News

Fantastic News for Home Buyers - No Stamp Duty for homes up to £500,000

 

The cost of stamp duty on homes up to £500,000 has been suspended, potentially saving future house buyers tens of thousands of pounds.

 

The Chancellor, Mr Sunak announced he has decided to cut stamp duty, telling the Commons: “Right now, there is no stamp duty on transactions below £125,000.

 

 “Today, I am increasing the threshold to £500,000. This will be a temporary cut running until March 31 2021 – and, as is always the case, these changes to stamp duty will take effect immediately.

 

 “The average stamp duty bill will fall by £4,500. And nearly nine out of 10 people buying a main home this year, will pay no stamp duty at all.”

Click here for the Government Stamp Duty Calculator https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/calculate-stamp-duty-land-tax/#/intro

We currently have 47 properties to chose from that are Stamp Duty Exempt under the new rules. Contact us today for help to find your new home.

New Government Guidance On Moving Home

The government has amended the coronavirus (COVID-19) regulations to make clear that people who wish to move home can do so. This guidance provides important public health information to ensure that moving home and key activities around this, such as viewing property, can happen safely.

It is important that everyone knows how to stay alert, contain the virus and save lives. Our success containing the virus so far has been hard fought and hard won. We must proceed with the utmost care in the next phase, and avoid undoing what we have achieved. One of the simplest steps you can take when moving home is to wash your hands frequently and wherever possible stay at least 2 metres apart from people who are not members of your household.

This document does not represent a return to normality. The process of finding and moving into a new home will need to be different given those involved in the process will have to adapt practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible. This will include doing more of the process online, such as virtual initial viewings; vacating your current property whilst other people are shown around; and ensuring your property is thoroughly cleaned before someone else moves in.

We encourage all parties involved to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay moves, for example if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the moving process or has to self-isolate. It may also become necessary to pause all home moves for a short period of time to manage the spread of the coronavirus. We will let you know if this has to happen.

You should consider whether you need to make provisions in contracts to manage these risks. You should not expect to move into any home where people have coronavirus or are self-isolating.

Advice to the public

More detail on progressing the individual elements of the home buying and selling or rental process and how this applies to different groups is set out in the next section.

Vulnerable people or those shielding

We recognise people who are shielding or otherwise vulnerable may also have pressing needs to move home; however, this should be balanced with the increased risks presented by coronavirus.

In line with government’s advice, those who are shielding or otherwise clinically vulnerable should ensure they are aware of the medical advice, including on staying at home and avoiding unnecessary contacts over this period, if at all possible. All parties involved in home buying and selling should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals in this group, or where someone in a chain is in this group.

Clinically vulnerable and shielded individuals (ie those who have received a letter advising they are in the clinically extremely vulnerable group) will need to carefully consider their personal situation and the circumstances of their own move and may wish to seek medical advice before deciding whether to commit to or go ahead with a move. Some moves are likely to be lower risk - for instance if the home is empty, all travel can take place in their own transport and they can avoid contact with others.

We would encourage everyone in these categories who does intend to move, to make clear their status to all of the professionals involved in the process. They may be able to implement additional precautionary measures to further protect you.

People self-isolating or having tested positive for coronavirus

Moving home is not appropriate whilst you pose a direct risk of transmitting coronavirus. People who have coronavirus or are self-isolating with their family member should not leave their home to either move home, or undertake property viewings.

If you are contractually committed to move home, you should delay your move until all members of your household have come to the end of their self-isolation period. All parties involved in home buying and selling should prioritise agreeing amicable arrangements to change move dates for individuals, or where someone in a chain or their family member is self-isolating or has tested positive for coronavirus.

Should a move be essential for people in this category, for instance due to an urgent health and safety risk, please contact Public Health England/local public health teams for advice.

What does this mean for my property move or purchase which is scheduled whilst measures to fight coronavirus apply?

People are free to move home, however the process of finding and moving into a new home is likely to be different, as those involved in the process will need to adapt practices and procedures to ensure that the risk of spread of coronavirus is reduced as far as possible. It is vital that everyone stays alert and safe.

  • Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and property agents should help you to do this.
  • All physical viewings should be limited to members of the same household and open house viewings should not take place.
  • When physically viewing properties, where possible, you should avoid touching surfaces, wash your hands regularly, and bring your own hand sanitiser. The number of people on a viewing should be minimised to those from your household that absolutely have to be there. If you need to be accompanied by small children, you should try to keep them from touching surfaces and ensure they wash their hands regularly.
  • If people are being shown around your current home, you should open all internal doors and ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned after each viewing with standard household cleaning products.
  • As most people choose to, we recommend that you vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household.
  • Anyone involved in any aspect of the home moving process should practice social distancing in line with public health advice.
  • When moving between properties, you and those in your household should try to do as much of the packing yourself as you can. Where this is not possible, you should speak to removal firms in advance. There is further advice about this below.
  • If you are particularly worried about the risk of infection, then speak to the professionals involved, your landlord, estate agent or removers as they may be able to put in place extra measures.

Everyone involved in the moving process must follow social distancing to minimise the spread of the virus.

1. Preparing to buy, sell or move home

You can put your home on the market and start to look for properties you want to move into. If any member of the household being viewed is showing symptoms or is self-isolating then estate agents should not physically visit the property.

  • You can begin to market your home and estate agents are able to visit in order to take photos/videos of the property.
  • To help prevent the spread of infection, we encourage people to do the majority of their property searching online; for example only physically viewing those properties which you believe you are most likely to want to move into.
  • As usual, you can also start to bring together the documentation necessary to sell your property (more information on these documents is available in the government’s guidance on how to sell homes).
  • If you wish to buy a new build property you should make contact with the developer in the usual way. You should be able to view the show home or visit the particular plot you are interested in purchasing, although there will be appointment systems in place.

2. Viewings

People should use virtual viewings before visiting properties in person where possible, in order to minimise public health risks. If any member of either the household being viewed, or the household undertaking a viewing is showing symptoms of coronavirus or is self-isolating, then a physical viewing should be delayed. All viewings should take place by appointment and only involve members of a single household.

  • We encourage people to do their property searching online wherever possible. Initial viewings should be done virtually wherever this is possible and physical viewings should only be conducted where buyers are seriously considering making an offer on a property.
  • To support this, agents may ask home occupiers to conduct virtual viewings. This will help reduce the number of properties people need to visit before finding their future home.
  • Viewings should be conducted by appointment only and no open house viewings should take place.
  • If your property is being viewed, you should open all the internal doors prior to the viewing, and allow access to handwashing facilities and ideally separate towels/paper towels.
  • As most people choose to do, we encourage that you vacate your property whilst viewings are taking place in order to minimise your contact with those not in your household.
  • When viewing a property, all parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible. Agents will ask you to restrict the number of people who accompany you on a viewing so that social distancing can be practised, and only those in your immediate household should be there.
  • We expect agents to accompany clients on a viewing but follow social distancing rules wherever possible. Where viewings are unaccompanied, agents should make sure viewers and homeowners understand how they should conduct themselves.
  • Once the viewing has taken place, the homeowner should ensure surfaces, such as door handles, are cleaned with standard household cleaning products and towels disposed of safely or washed as appropriate.

3. Making offers or reservations

You are free to make or accept an offer or reserve a property as normal.

  • There is a greater risk that parties may need to delay their move because someone is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. Where needed your legal adviser should advise you and help make sure that any contracts or agreements are as flexible as possible to accommodate this risk.
  • Prospective purchasers may wish to visit a property again once they have agreed a sale, for example to measure up. Where this has been agreed to, the above advice on prioritising virtual visits, hygiene measures, maintaining social distancing at all times and mitigating contact where possible should be followed.
  • Purchasers may also want to send in tradespeople to carry out inspections. Where possible these should be scheduled with one person visiting the property at any time. No tradespeople should enter a property where a member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating. Where a tradesperson is visiting the property, the occupier should maintain social distancing, wash their hands regularly and minimise contact as far as possible, for example by staying in another room. These visits should be carried out in line with government safer working guidance.

4. Property searches and surveys

Your legal representative should be able to carry out searches on your property online in order to progress your transaction and you can contact them to discuss likely timescales.

Your surveyor can undertake surveys of the property you wish to purchase.

  • Surveyors should not enter a property where a member of the household is showing symptoms of coronavirus or self-isolating.
  • Where possible we encourage inspections to take place by appointment only, with one person visiting the property at any time. Surveyors should follow government guidance for professionals working in other people’s homes and guidance on social distancing.
  • If your home is being surveyed, you should ensure the surveyor has access to all the parts of the property they need to inspect, and make efforts to minimise contact with the surveyor, for example by staying in another room whilst they are inspecting your home.

5. Agreeing to move

Once you have agreed to move home by exchanging contracts or signing a tenancy agreement, you have entered into a legal agreement to move. We encourage all parties to be as flexible as possible over this period and be prepared to delay moves if needed, for example if someone becomes ill with coronavirus during the moving process or has to self-isolate. You should not expect to move into any home where people are ill or self-isolating.

  • Your legal adviser should be able to help you to ensure that any contract you enter into has sufficient flexibility to allow the purchase to be delayed in the event that an individual in one of the parties contracts coronavirus or has to self-isolate.
  • We encourage you to be as flexible as possible if you are asked to delay your move, and in turn, you can speak to your legal advisor about this.

6. Moving your belongings

Removal firms are able to operate, although they may need to adjust usual procedures in order to ensure moves happen as safely as possible.

  • We encourage you to contact removal firms as early as possible in advance of your move.
  • You and your household should also try and do as much of the packing yourself as possible. However, where this is not possible, you should speak to your removal firms in advance.
  • We ask that, where possible, you clean your belongings, with standard domestic cleaning products before they are handled by others, including removal firms.
  • Whilst the removers are in your home, you should ensure any internal doors are open and seek to minimise your contact with the crew, maintaining a distance of at least 2 metres where possible.
  • All parties should wash their hands and avoid touching surfaces where possible to reduce the risk of transmitting the coronavirus.
  • You should not provide refreshments but you should ensure they have access to hand washing facilities, using separate towels or paper towels if possible, which should be washed or disposed of safely afterwards.
Housing Market Re-Opens

 

The Government announced last night that it's a green light for home movers and estate agents. Under new regulations, key activities relating to moving home will be permitted, with renters and buyers allowed to move home and view properties as long as they observe physical distancing.

Further updates to follow.

OPERATIONAL UPDATE

 

We have full access to emails, operating systems and where appropriate, calls by phone, WhatsApp etc.

Even though we can’t visit you at this time, we are still able to value your home by live video link.  HIT THE REQUEST A VIDEO VALUATION TAB and then we will be in touch to provide a unique LIVE Harrison Brant Valuation.

Our Top 10 Tips For A Successful Sale

The housing market may be paused right now, but if you are planning to sell after the lockdown, this does not mean you need to postpone your preparation.

Whilst the current situation means that certain tasks are no longer possible, there are still lots of jobs that can be completed around the home.

The main thing to remember is that as a seller, you get two opportunities to make the right impression to potential buyers.

The first is when a buyer sees your home listed on online, which means that your property needs to look shipshape for the photographs.

The second is when a buyer comes to view your home.  In both cases, you will want to make sure that your home looks as good as it can.

To help you, we have drawn up a checklist of our top ten tips, to ensure that you are ready to go!

 

1)    Now is the time to look at your home with fresh eyes.

Enter each room as if it were for the first time. Is there anything you could improve upon? Some basic DIY can make a significant difference to the appeal of a room, i.e. touching up paintwork to skirting boards, walls and ceilings or anything else that you feel might improve its first impression.

2)    Does each room have a purpose?

Look at dressing each room for its primary purpose, i.e. has an unused bedroom evolved into a storeroom?  If so, restore it to a bedroom as that is what your buyer will be expecting to see.

3)    Do the rooms feel light and airy?

Is it time for a spring clean/declutter? Make sure that there are clear pathways around your home, particularly in any hallways and landing areas.

4)    Look at the front of your home.

Consider its curb appeal, this is the first impression a buyer will get, can it be improved upon? Weeding, touching up paint work, cleaning the facias and windows, do consider if this should be a job for a local contractor. Jet washing pathways and drives can also help, as can moving rubbish bins out of view.

5)    Your rear garden

Should you have one, this is likely to be one of the more important selling features of your home, so anything that can be done to improve it, is worth considering. It maybe that just some basic tidying and cutting back would suffice. If however, you feel greater expenditure is needed then do consider contacting us for further advice to see if it would be worthwhile.

6)    Garages and outbuildings

These should be tidied and cleared as necessary. Not only does this suggest there is ample storage space available, anyone thinking of working from home can see the potential for a home office or gym etc.

7)    Time to clear the loft space?

Not only will this save you time when you move, a clear loft will allow a buyer to see the potential for converting into additional accommodation.

8)    Finishing touches

Consider increasing the number of indoor plants within your home, this will not only provide a pleasant living environment for you, but will help to create a homelier feel for viewers.

9)    Historical paperwork

This is an ideal time to get together any relevant historical paperwork that will be needed for the conveyancing process. Not having this available when required, will cause a delay to your move. Examples of such paperwork would be documentation for the latest boiler service, any electrical work, building regulation or planning documents for any work that has been carried out to your home.

10)  Why did you buy your home?

We often find that the reasons why you purchased your property are just as relevant today to potential buyers.  If you compile a list of these reasons, we will look to incorporate our marketing material.

TUESDAY 31 MARCH 2020

TUESDAY 31 MARCH 2020

Updated advice on conveyancing and amending existing contracts

 

The Law Society has published updated guidance for conveyancers in England, reinforcing that home moves into occupied properties should only take place in situations where contracts have been exchanged and deferral is impossible.

Moves into unoccupied properties may continue, with conveyancers helping clients to consider the current Public Health England advice. Plus, after looking at the deferring transaction advice and the wishes of the client are that a move must take place, they must provide this in writing. Agents must advise their clients that police emergency powers do not apply for critical home moves.

Decontamination

If it is known or suspected that previous occupants or someone they have been in contact with has Coronavirus it is advised a deep clean should be undertaken. 

Deep clean advice

Amending existing contracts

The Law Society, Society of Licensed Conveyancers, Conveyancing Association, CILEx, and Bold Legal Group, have agreed on the outline of a process for deferring a completion date where an existing contract is in place, allowing for tailoring to individual needs.

A two-step process is recommended allowing for a delayed move at the end of the current stay-at-home period but also for an extension to this period if the Government restrictions are extended.


The Law Society has identified a range of scenarios that may arise for clients, such as:

  • Mortgages - Where the lender has agreed to extend the mortgage instructions for three months, conveyancers should ascertain whether any formal confirmation is necessary and ask the lender to provide it.
  • Searches and costs - The usual obligations apply to the client and lender client and consideration prior to the eventual completion should be given as to whether searches will need refreshing. The duty to advise clients of the potential for additional costs involved in managing their transactions remains as always.

Further considerations are in the Law Society Guidance.

Contracts not yet exchanged

Transactions can continue in the stay-at-home period and the Law Society advises careful consideration before instructing a conveyancer to exchange contracts. Where the instruction is given to exchange, conveyancers should incorporate a suitable clause in the contract to cover any ongoing risks caused by the virus.

Home moving advice

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has issued guidance on buying and selling homes during the stay-at-home period, urging all parties involved in home moving to adapt and be flexible to alter their usual processes. 

 

 

Update 27th March

We have moved our updates from the news page to a more prominent position for ease of access.

We have full access to emails, operating systems and where appropriate, calls by phone, WhatsApp etc. Even though we can’t visit you at this time, we are still able to value you home by live video link. HIT THE REQUEST A VIDEO VALUATION TAB and then we will be in touch to provide a LIVE Harrison Brant Valuation.

 

Update 27th March

The Government have published some clearer advice in respect of the above.

In simple terms, they have rightly paused the sales process and due to this, lenders are working to extend mortgage offers.

Where contacts have been exchanged, the move date should be deferred, with a new completion date to be mutually agreed by the chain. If new a date can’t be agreed and safety guidelines can be observed, then the move may be able to proceed.

If the move is simple single transaction to an empty dwelling, then this can proceed so long as the safety guidelines are observed. Again this assumes that contracts have already been exchanged.

Our view is that buyers and sellers should remain committed to their transactions whilst there is a delay to the process. Should you have any concerns or queries, please feel free to contact us via the usual email addresses.

The full advice is at: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/government-advice-on-home-moving-during-the-coronavirus-covid-19-outbreak

 

 

 

24 March Update

We have moved our updates from the news page to a more prominent position for ease of access.

In light of the current Government guidance, all colleagues that were remaining in the offices are now working from home and the offices are temporarily closed.

 

We have full access to emails, operating systems and where appropriate, calls by phone, WhatsApp etc. Even though we can’t visit you at this time, we are still able to value you home by live video link. HIT THE REQUEST A VALUATION TAB and then ready to sell now and we will be in touch to provide a LIVE Harrison Brant Valuation.

 

We are continuing to deliver our multi-award winning services and fully market our client’s properties. Should you wish to view a property, please do let us know and once we are able to facilitate viewings we will be in touch.

 

In the interim, do feel free to contact the team via our usual email addresses or from the registration and or contact us page of our website and we will provide any information or advice that you may require.

 

Please note that the teams will do their very best to respond to you in an efficient manner. However, response times may be a little longer than usual.

24th March Update

In accordance with Government advice, we are all working from home.

Do feel free to contact us via our usual email addresses or from the registration and or contact us page of our website.

Coronavirus Statement

20 March 2020 

I would like to reassure you that we are open for business, adopting a business as usual policy albeit in unusual times. In order to do this, I have implemented changes in the way we operate.

From today, I have put in place a number of contingency plans that include home working and adopting technology including video tour viewings and conferencing in order that we may continue to offer our award-winning customer service.

Please be assured that my first priority is to protect our customers, my teams at Harrison Brant and Osborn Humphreys, our lettings brand.

This also means that I require the assistance of all sellers, landlords, applicants and tenants who should let us know should there be any reason in accordance with the Government’s current guidelines, for us NOT to conduct viewings and/or appointments of any kind. This also applies to our teams, contractors, surveyors etc.

I wish to limit the possibility of spreading the virus and with this in mind, I require all parties to confirm by email, at the time of making appointments, there is no reason for us not to do so. Should there be a change in your health or those connected to you, prior to the appointment, please let us know. Thank you in advance for your co-operation and understating on this.

I would ask that where possible, you contact us by phone or email rather than visiting the offices. Please note that the teams will do their very best to respond to you in an efficient manner. However, response times may be a little longer than usual.

I am continuing to monitor the situation and will keep you advised should there be any necessary changes to the above.

Keith Harrison MNAEA

Director