2020 Property Market Review with Optimum Professional Services
There is no doubt that once the March lockdown was over, the housing market nationally saw a boost, and this was mirrored in Swindon and Wiltshire.
By September, housing prices were rising at their fastest annual rate since the Brexit referendum of 2016, according to Nationwide. At the same time, Bank of England data showed mortgage approvals during August rose to the highest level in almost 13 years.
The market has been partly fuelled by the temporary holiday to Stamp Duty Land Tax for property sales below £500,000 (which is due to end on 31st March 2021).
As we move into 2021, we should see the momentum continue, since the New Year and looking towards spring are traditionally a busy time for the housing market.
Iain Mason, Head of Legal at Swindon-based Optimum Professional Services, said conveyancing instructions for people buying and selling property have been soaring, but with that brings a risk of delays.
“The market may be frenetic but there are still some things that have not changed,” said Iain. “Searches need to carried out, and in Swindon there is a delay in this process due to the high levels of activity. The process is currently taking about five weeks, so this needs factoring in. If you are in a chain, it is as important as ever to keep in touch with what is happening at each stage – where people are with their mortgage applications for example.”
The ongoing pandemic also needs to be considered. This may mean incorporating the appropriate mechanisms into contracts to address the need to delay completion, should either the buyer or seller be unable to complete as a result of the pandemic.
Iain also advises that returning contracts as soon as possible (perhaps opting for special delivery instead the regular postal service) would help avoid delays. And he adds, “It is also important to make sure deposit monies are made available as soon as possible, so this doesn’t present any last minute problems. Different banks have different limits on how much can be transferred on a daily basis. ”
Meanwhile, leaseholds for newbuild properties have also been hitting the headlines. Thousands of homeowners across the country are finding themselves subject to hefty annual ground rents that are paid to the freeholder (usually the developer) that, under the terms of the lease, double every ten years.
In some cases, people have bought their properties completely unaware that they are buying them as a leasehold and not freehold. These spiralling ground rents bring a double problem for the homeowner, because they make the property difficult to sell and in some cases impossible to remortgage.
Iain added, “In principle, there may be good reasons for houses to be sold as leasehold. For example, obligations to pay for the upkeep of communal areas – where these are not going to be adopted by a local council – can be more straightforward to recover from leases. But to impose leases that start high and double every ten years, and to mis-sell properties without the buyer being full aware they are acquiring a leasehold, cannot be condoned. Of course, careful scrutiny of legal paperwork relating to property sales should have highlighted a lease and its terms.”
For legal advice for a property purchase, particularly where a leasehold property is concerned, contact the solicitor-led legal team at Optimum Professional Services: visit www.optps.co.uk, email email@example.com or call 01793 538 198.
Pictured above: Iain Mason, Head of Legal at Swindon-based Optimum Professional Services