Friday, 13 May 2016

5 Reasons to Hire an RICS Chartered Surveyor

5 Reasons to Hire an RICS Chartered Surveyor
A guest blog from

Buying a property is one of the largest financial commitments many people may make in their life. Much as you would hire a Conveyancing Solicitor to ensure there are no legal issues with a property, an RICS Chartered Surveyor will look for any physical issues with the property.

In 2014, the average repair bill for homebuyers who did not commission an independent survey was £5,750! If that is not reason enough to book a survey, here are 5 more benefits of doing so:

1. Highlight potential defects

Unlike even the most thorough inspection you make when viewing a property, a Surveyor will inspect all areas of the property that are safe and accessible, including the loft space, basement and roof. Surveyors also have specialist equipment, allowing them to produce in-depth reports even when access is restricted. This allows them to spot potential defects you may have missed with a naked eye.

2. Market valuation of property

Unlike a mortgage valuation an independent market valuation is far more credible and takes into consideration large, significant defects. The report is longer and includes comparable properties and brief information to substantiate the Surveyors valuation. This allows it to be used as an effective negotiation tool and prevents acquiring your investment at too high a premium.

A Surveyor can provide an accurate reinstatement value for your building insurance, to ensure you have adequate cover. This is crucial so your property is neither under nor over insured. In the event of a claim, if you are underinsured your settlement may be reduced proportionally to the gap in insurance or in extreme cases your claim may rejected. If you are over insured, you may be wasting money overpaying on your insurance premium.

3.  An RICS Surveyor is unbiased and regulated

Chartered Surveyors are regulated by the RICS and are held to a strict code of conduct. These rules clearly define the professional standards, which are expected of the Surveyor and require firms to have a complaints handling procedure. This helps to ensure that estate agents, mortgage companies or any other parties with an interest in the transaction, do not have any influence over the Surveyor.

What happens if a Surveyor makes a mistake and misses a defect, which could later cost you money to repair? Chartered Surveyors are required to have professional indemnity insurance cover for such an occasion. If you suffer a loss as a result of an error made your Surveyor, this will be covered by their PII policy and their insurer will cover these costs for you. Effectively, it acts as a safety net for both you and the Surveyor.

4. A survey is not a mortgage valuation

A mortgage valuation is for the benefit of the mortgage lender and in some cases the homebuyer may not even receive a copy of the report. It is to help the mortgage provider make an informed decision before agreeing to lend funds. The Surveyor will briefly inspect the property (usually lasting less than 20 minutes) and will collate their findings with information about local, comparable properties. The report is concise and will only highlight major, obvious defects, which could have a significant effect of the property value which could therefore affect it as security for the proposed loan.

5. Grow your investment

Even after your initial purchase, a Surveyor can help maximise your investment. They can offer professional advice about the scope and suitability of potential extensions to your property. This can help avoid unforeseen delays and expenses, as well as providing you with information about how such investments will affect the overall property value.

About the author is a brokerage for RICS Chartered Surveyors. You can get free, fixed quotes from local RICS Chartered Surveyors by either visiting our website or calling us on 0333 011 6683.

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Thursday, 16 April 2015

Help to Buy ISA

The Help to buy ISA will be introduced by Autumn this year, available at bank and building societies. Each provider will be able to apply there own ISA stipulations e.i interest rate and withdrawal rules but normal transfer rules will be in place to ensure savers have the flexibility to transfer to accounts with better rates. 

There will be a maximum monthly saving limit of £200 for every £200 paid in the Government will contribute £50, the top up will be capped at £3000 and tax free meaning the maximum about of savings from the buyer is £12,000. The ISA is available 4 years from the initial scheme starting, once the account is open there is no time limitation on how long a person can use the ISA or when they claim the contribution. 

To ensure the Governments contribution is used correctly the funds will be released when the property has been purchased. The great thing is the ISA is available one per person not one per household and up to £1000 can be deposited into the account as the first payment. The property purchase cannot be for buy-to-let purposes, only for first time buyers who will be living in the property and their only residence. In London the the purchase value can be up to £450,000 other areas in the UK price must not exceed £250,000. The top up can be claimed at any time as long as there has been a minimum of £400 government contribution.

So first time buyers.....what are you waiting for!

Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Alarms

Landlords will soon be required by law to install working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in all their tenanted properties, this is expected to be in place from October 2015. The smoke alarms will need to be installed on every floor of the property and tested at the start of a tenancy. The carbon monoxide alarms will be required in high risk rooms, for example where a solid fuel heating system is installed. During the tenancy period it will be the responsibility of the tenant to maintain and test the alarms and to report any faults. 

The fire service are on hand to support private landlords on meeting the requirements and new responsibilities. Grant funding from the government will enable landlords to claim free smoke and carbon monoxide alarms, the allocation of funding will be announced in due course. 

Landlords who fail to comply are at risk of facing sanctions and be landed with a bill of up to £5,000 civil penalty. 

The new compliance will bring property up to standard on current building regulations, new builds are required to have hard-wired smoke alarms installed. 

It is a simple safety procedure that will save lives and a simple understanding for both landlord and tenant as to where their obligations lie on installing, testing and maintaining.

Make sure your property is up to standard!

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists 

Thursday, 5 March 2015

Energy Performance Certificate

Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) were originally introduced as part of the Home Information Pack (HIP) required to market your property, since the HIP was suspended in May 2010 the EPC was to remain a mandatory requirement. When putting your property up for sale or rent you must have an up to date Energy Performance Certificate and it is required for any property with a tenancy commencing on or after 1st October 2008.

Visually the EPC is the colour coded chart you see on property details listed by estate agents, it is usual practice for your estate agent to make the arrangements for the EPC to be carried out with your instruction. The chart is split into 'Energy Performance Rating' and 'Environmental (CO2) Impact Rating' both rated A (most efficient) to G (least efficient). Also included in the certificate document is information on the property's energy use and typical cost along with recommendations on how reduce energy use and save money. It is valid for 10 years unless any changes are made that can effect the rating i.e insulation, double glazing or a new boiler.

Having this information readily available is all well and good, providing that extra bit of information for potential buyers and tenants on the energy efficiency of a property. But I have often wondered why there has never been a requirement in place for what rating the property should be at or above, especially for rental property. Then what was released a couple of weeks ago....

As of 1st April 2018 all rental property must have a minimum rating of at least an E. This new stipulation means that any property rented out with a rating of F or G is illegal. This could be a costly rule to adherer to for most landlords so my advice is to put a plan in place now to budget for any work that needs carrying out to bump up the EPC rating to an E or above. Don't leave it too late or it will cost you more in the long run!

If you need an Energy Performance Certificate please contact us Beth Alexandra Property Specialists 01344 771278 or email

Monday, 16 February 2015

Choosing The Right Conveyancer

Do you already have a conveyancer in place? It is surprising how many vendors and buyers don't, when an offer is accepted both parties should be ready to hit the ground running. It can be a negative start to spend the first 1 - 2 weeks on researching and retrieving quotes from solicitors. This eats away at precious time in which the selling process should be well under way, no one likes to be kept waiting. The key to choosing a solicitor is knowing they are going to be proactive, efficient and keep in touch with you every step of the way. A common occurrence between a conveyancer and their client is lack of communication. My motto is, make sure your file is top of the pile! 

If you have the benefit of knowing a solicitor and had recent experience with which was it was a positive one then I strongly advise you go back to them. Most likely they helped you to buy the property you are now selling! If you find yourself in a position with no solicitor then the first port of call is your estate agent. They should always have a panel of conveyancers who will take on your case. The benefit of using a firm the agent has recommended is not only for the reassurance but they will have a fantastic professional relationship with one another. Both agent and conveyancer are aware of each others processes and routine and will work as a team to get you moving. 

An easy mistake to make is opting for the cheapest quote, the price maybe great but will the service mirror it? Understandably moving house is a costly process but what you are dealing with is the most expensive asset you own, you cannot afford costly mistakes. Don't be afraid when looking into different firms searching outside your area. A number of soliciting firms now use online portals which you the client can log into and view the progress. This can actually be less time consuming than waiting for a meeting or a phone call with your conveyancer. 

Whichever route you take be one step ahead and begin the research early, leaving it too late can lead into a rushed decision so be prepared.

At Beth Alexandra Property Specialists we will guide you every step of the way. 

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Real Interiors UK - New Year New Home

Whilst diets and promotions top many New Years’ resolution lists, January is also the perfect time to make the changes to your home that have been bugging you for months.

Shirley Goodgroves from Real Interiors is a ‘Home Staging’ expert with a sharp eye and a creative touch.  She uses her experience and vision to look beyond clutter and mess and turns tired homes into attractive options that appeal to potential buyers.

Whether you are looking for a haven in the chaos of family life or want top dollar in the estate agent’s window, Shirley’s fail-safe tips will make you a property guru in 2015.

  • Your house is worth more when it’s tidy according to a recent survey by Big Yellow Self Storage and 22% of buyers won’t make an offer on a property if its too cluttered.  Have a big sort out in January and then try to keep on top of it a bit at a time.
  • Be realistic! Your home was created over months and years so you won’t transform it in an hour.  If it’s all too daunting, spend 10 mins clearing out a kitchen drawer and once you start seeing results you’ll want to continue.
  • If you’re thinking of putting your home on the market this Spring, assess what buyers might think of it.  Have an evaluation done by a property professional and consider staging to maximise your property value before you call the agent.
  • Forget your personal taste, buyers are looking for neutral but not bland properties so its essential that this is what you offer.  You can introduce colour through accessories rather than paint.  A properly dressed bed, vase of flowers and well placed mirrors and pictures will transform your home into an attractive investment.
  • Remember all those little jobs that you’ve been meaning to sort out but never got around to?  Now is the time to fix the dripping tap, change the cracked tile and rehang dropped doors on cupboards.
  • Its true that wafts of baking bread and freshly brewed coffee create the perfect ambience for buyers but be warned – they are put off by smells of animals, damp and cigarette smoke.
  • If you do nothing else, ensure your house is clean.  Sparkling windows and dust free skirting boards will show a buyer that this is a property which is well cared for and looked after.

For assistance on staging your home for sale, decluttering when it’s all become too much or simply to feel happy with the home you’re in, call Shirley at Real Interiors on 07866 566141 for a solution that’s perfect for you.

For more information go to





Monday, 8 December 2014

What The Stamp Duty Reform Will Mean To You

The stamp duty reform revealed and put into place last week, should we see as good news or bad news? The initial positive is buyers purchasing property under £937,500 will save on their stamp duty bill but the projected outcome will be that property prices will rise again. So actually will the new structure benefit us at all? Previously many house prices were determined by stamp duty thresholds, for example going over £250,000 tripled the percentage of stamp duty to 3%
Did the old formation keep property prices in relatively good order? Here is the old structure for you to take a look at for residential property:

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage

£0 - £125,000                                0%
£125,001 - £250,000                     1%
£250,001 - £500,000                     3%
£500,001 - 1million                      4%
1million  - 2million                      5%
over 2million                                7%

As of 4th Decmeber 2014 this is what the reform looks like for residential property:

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage

£0 - £125,000                               0%
£125,001 - £250,000                    2%
£250,001 - £925,000                    5%
£925,001 - 1.5million                10%
over 1.5million                          12%

Instant reaction is 'the percentages are higher!' yes this is true but the difference is you no longer pay stamp duty on the whole purchase price. You will only pay a portion of the total value that falls between each bracket. This is an example if you were purchasing a property with the old & new rates at the current average asking price of £273,000

OLD Rates

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage                   Stamp Duty Paid     

£273,000                                       3%                                                  £8,190

NEW Rates

Purchase Price               Stamp Duty Percentage                   Stamp Duty Paid   

£273,000                                       2%                                                  £2,500

(£125,000 of the purchase price falls within the second bracket £125,001 - £250,000)

                                                      5%                                                  £1,150

(£23,000 of the purchase price falls within the third bracket £250,001 - £925,000)

                                                                                     TOTAL           £3,650

So this means a total saving of £4,540! Lets see what the near future holds for the property market.....

Beth Alexandra Property Specialists