How Do You Sell Your Home Without Estate Agents Or Solicitors?

Selling your home is often a case of expense after expense after expense, and we can completely sympathise –few people like spending money that they don’t have to. So is it possible to sell your home without using solicitors or estate agents?
Here’s a quick rundown of how you could do just that!

Eliminating Estate Agents

If you want to eliminate estate agents, you could just advertise your home locally. Of course, in a world where most people’s first resort is Zoopla or Rightmove, you may struggle if you don’t advertise online. As a result, it could pay to use an online-only agent that simply lists your properties on those sites, and they typically start at around £100 to £200. You cannot directly upload properties to Zoopla or Rightmove, as that requires a long-term subscription, and you would end up paying substantially more (£500 per month or so) for those subscriptions.
Mortgage Loan
Regardless, if you do decide to advertise your house in the local papers then the first thing you’ll need to do is to tidy your home extensively, and then take well-lit photos of each room. It’s a good idea to open the curtains and have all the lights on when you take these photos, and position yourself in a suitable corner so that you get the widest possible angle. Don’t forget to include the garden, the front of the house and the back of the house. If you have any outbuildings, include those.
Next, arrange for an energy performance certificate. If the property has had an EPC assessment in the past 10 years, you can reuse the EPC, but otherwise you will have to spend between £50 and £120 to get a new one. An energy specialist will come into the house, take a load of measurements and produce the certificate.
Finally, talk price. This can be a sticking point, of course, as you want to maximise your price, and the buyer wants to minimise it. Choose a price that is 10% above the actual value, as it gives you an opportunity to reduce it as necessary.
You will also have to include a contact number so that people can talk to you regarding viewings. Naturally, if you miss one, you could lose a potential sale, so it’s essential that people can contact you at almost any time of the day. Don’t forget that you will have to show them around at a time that’s convenient for them and then follow up on any offers.
Once you have accepted an offer, you next move onto the legal side.

Squishing Solicitors

Now, we could cheat a little and say instruct a conveyancer, as they are not technically solicitors. However, we’ve made the assumption that you want to lower your costs as much as possible, and conveyancers are definitely not free. So, here’s what you need to do.
First, you need get your title deeds from the Land Registry. These are the documents that tell you what you own and all the conditions that affect the property. Then, you need to fill out forms TA6, TA10 and TA13 and create a contract of sale. If you have a mortgage, you need to create a settlement figure and then organise the final accounts, prepare the final settlement and pay off the remainder of the mortgage. You’ll also have to receive the house deposit, approve the deed of transfer, handover the deeds and finally send the outstanding balance to the account of your choice.
Here’s the sticking point, though: Many solicitors will not deal with a seller who doesn’t have legal representation. This is because the solicitor cannot automatically trust the documentation as there are no guarantees backing it and no insurance, and it results in extra work for them. It also means that you are personally liable for any mistakes within the documentation, and again, you don’t have any insurance backing you up. Finally, you may not be able to handle the mortgage agreement on your own, as a lot of mortgage providers require an undertaking to be created – this is a formal agreement between legal professionals to pay off the mortgage using the proceeds.
Now, we absolutely understand why you want to eliminate estate agents and solicitors from the house-buying process, as all that commission can add up toa lot. However, if you really want to save money but still have the convenience of support when you need it, use a hybrid estate agent with a fixed fee, and use a conveyancer to cover yourself. If you do everything by yourself, it’s possible that you could end up in a serious legal tangle.

Is Real Estate a Sensible Investment For the Future?

Investing in real estate is said to be one of the most important investments that you can make. For many people, they are keen to invest their money into a ‘safe bet’. Some investors are keen to have a more diversified portfolio. As such, this means that they seek to invest their coffers into property. However, is this as safe a bet as many realtors would have you believe? For many, they are unsure as to whether real estate is a safe investment.

Real Estate

It’s all about being in the know. Let’s find out more about investments via the real estate route.

Planning for the Future

As an investment strategy, opting for real estate can be a savvy move to make. Of course, if you can afford to buy property or second properties, you can ensure that you see an ROI. But, there are some things that you need to consider. In order to maximize your ROI, you need to invest earlier in your life. So, if you are nearing retirement, investing in real estate and houses would not be a financially sensible route to take. However, if you are in your late forties, you can see a definite ROI by the time you come to retire. As with any investment product, you need to play the long game. If you want quick cash, real estate is not for you.

A Safer Pension Plan?

Pension plans come in many different forms. As such real estate can be a safe pension plan, if you invest early. But, investing later in life is not a savvy move to make. If you want to maximize your profit, investing early is wise. But, it’s not all plain sailing. You need to do some research. When it comes to real estate, having a working knowledge of housing markets and stock exchanges is vital. After all, this is not something that you can go into blind. Make sure that you do your research of the neighborhood and predicted forecasts of the housing market in that region. Look at yap and coming areas as opposed to established neighborhoods for a more profitable venture.

Buy to Let?

The buy to let market is booming in the US at the moment. With fewer people being able to obtain mortgages, it’s vital that you consider the buy to let market as an investment. It can ensure that your mortgage is paid without you having to spend a great deal of cash in the process. Do make sure that you have a competitive edge when it comes to the buy to let market. Having a furnished pad within a city centre is a great way to boost your chances of renting quickly and successfully. Hiring movers can ensure that you have all of the key kit in place without causing damage to the property.

Don’t Forget to Look Overseas

Many people think that they have to invest in their own country. But this is not the case. If you want to see a viable investment, investing in overseas properties as holiday homes can be a great way to ensure that you are maximizing your earning potential. Do be sure to do your research on property laws before you commit.

How to Secure Property Development Finance

Property development can be an exciting venture, but it’s important to remember that it’s not a hobby: it’s a business. Approach it with a mind to making money, otherwise you’ll have trouble in convincing others that you mean business and possibly fail in securing the finance necessary to fund your development.

property development Putting Together a Business Plan

A solid business plan is the cornerstone of any successful property development; it will serve as your manual on making the project profitable, and is absolutely vital in securing property development finance from any lender.

Having a proper business plan in place can help clarify the project in your mind and keep you grounded in your excitement. It should detail all your findings, including every scenario that could impact the sale of the property, and it should highlight all associated costs and pitfalls.

Specifically, you should detail the area of the development, why you feel it’s worth investing in, the supply and demand of properties currently on the market in the area, current housing prices, and land registry figures (information pertaining to the schools, employers and transport in the area).

Your business plan should detail every aspect of the development, from start to finish; it’s your strongest weapon in securing finance and should therefore be easy to read and understand, and provide an accurate vision of the projected profit margins.

Crunching Numbers and Assessing Profit Margins

No matter how much you want the project to work, you’ll be doing yourself a great disservice if you manipulate the numbers in order to secure property development financing. If the numbers aren’t feasible, you’ll be the one who suffers, landing yourself with huge debts and with a monstrous, unfinished project on your hands.

To this end, thoroughly research the viability of the project, crunching all the necessary numbers and realising the pros and cons that go into such an endeavour. It’s imperative that you figure out if there’s a good risk to reward ratio, and whether or not it’s truly worth taking the financial risk.

When costing out the project, there are numerous things to consider: quotes for labour and materials; buying and selling prices; legal costs; loan interest rates; profit margins; and your own living costs if you intend to work on the project full time.

Securing Property Development Finance

Mortgage brokers and banks specialising in property development are your best bet for securing the appropriate finance required to complete the project. High street banks also offer commercial loans for business projects, although they can be harder to borrow from. The first step is to set-up a meeting with the bank manager and have him or her go over your business plan. 

Friends and family with significant savings are also potential lenders, although it’s important to treat the situation strictly as a business venture in order to keep friendships intact. For your part, you should offer good interest rates or a share of the profits. 

Joint ventures are another route to securing finance: by teaming up with someone else in the business of developing property, you can pool your money together and split associated costs; the risks and rewards are shared. If you’re new to property development, partnering with an experienced, successful developer will improve your chances of securing financing as some lenders may be apprehensive, or won’t give loans at all to new property developers. 

However you decide to pursue financing, you must be sure to present a solid business plan with projected profit margins and costs; no one is likely to invest in your development otherwise.

Financing Fees and Criteria

Lenders have strict criteria when it comes to financing property development as it is a high risk, high reward endeavour. They will want to see a real financial commitment from you, to prove you are serious about the project, so you will almost certainly need to own the plot of land outright.

 If you are successful in securing a loan from a commercial bank you can expect to be hit with a number of fees, including: a set-up fee; an exit fee; introducer fees; survey and legal fees; and in some cases, a percentage of the facility. Your lender will most likely loan 50-60% of the development costs, paid out in 4-5 stage payments – each payment being paid out after a site inspection.

If you’re serious about pursuing a career in property development then you must treat every property as a different enterprise. You must be sure to carry out the steps outlined above thoroughly, for each separate project, to ensure it will be worth your time, effort and money.

Cathy Livingstone is a freelance writer with expertise within the business and property development finance arena.

Why the New Mortgage Rules are not all Bad News for Canadian Investors

Earlier this year on July 9th, Finance Minister, Jim Flaherty announced new changes to the mortgage rules. The new measures included shortened amortization periods (30 to 25 years), lowering the maximum amount Canadians could borrow against their home when refinancing (85 to 80 percent), fixing the maximum gross debt service ratio (39 percent) and limiting government backed insured mortgages on homes over $1 million. The main objectives for these changes were to stabilize the housing market and reduce the increasing homeowner debt throughout Canada. After the announcement, many homeowners and property investors were left wondering how these changes were going to affect their investments. Below is an examination of how the new mortgage rules truly affect Canadian real estate investors.

New Mortgage Rules will only affect CMHC Insured Mortgages

First of all it is interesting to note that the majority of Canadians will actually not be affected by these mortgage changes. This is because the new mortgage rules only apply to CMHC insured mortgages and non-bank lenders who use CMHC rules on conventional mortgages. The truth is that the majority of Canadian real estate investors are not taking out CMHC insured mortgages, in fact, only a mere 11% of all Canadian mortgages were insured by CMHC in 2011! There are still a number of 30+ year amortizations (not backed by CMHC) that are available for Canadians.

New Mortgage Rules will benefit the Rental Market

Although there is much concern and speculation surrounding the new mortgage rules, the new changes are actually great news for the rental market. With less people being able to afford a property, more people will be looking to rent, leading to an increase demand for rental property and an upward pressure on rental rates to increase.

Vacancy rates will also go down and real estate investors will enjoy an increase demand of renters. With more people renting, investors can get a steady supply of income from their investment properties. Rental duration is also set to increase, as an increasing amount of renters will be forced to rent longer while they save for a bigger down payment.

New Mortgage Rules will reduce homeowner debt

Lowering the maximum amount Canadians can borrow when refinancing is often left out of the conversation when it comes to the new mortgage rules. Capping financing at 80%, down from 85%, will mostly affect first-time homebuyers and buyers looking to upgrade their current homes. These individuals may no longer be able to afford the more expensive properties, and instead, will have to choose properties that are more within their price range. This will restrict and hopefully reduce the growing homeowner debt problem in Canada.

New Mortgage Rules will increase Canadian Home Prices

The new mortgage rules will have an impact on overall Canadian home prices, especially on its affordability. It is important to note that homebuyers and investors don’t judge what they can afford based on the price of the house, but rather on the monthly payments. With a shortened amortization period of 5 years, monthly payments will increase by roughly 1%. This puts pressure on housing prices to come down in order to balance out the rise in monthly payments. The 5- year change on the amortization period will require (roughly) a 10% decrease in market prices. Below is an example of this:

Say the price of a home is $400,000. Monthly payments on a 30-year amortization will be $1,910. With a 25-year amortization however, monthly expenses will jump to $2,110, an 11% increase in monthly payments. A couple that could afford a mortgage of $1,910 might not be able to afford the new monthly payments of $2,110. Therefore, in order for the monthly payments to stay at $1,910, the price of the house needs to come down by 10%, to $360,000.

Investing in Buy to Let Property in the UK

Buy to let was coined as a term in the UK in 1995, but the practice of taking out mortgages on a property with the express intention of privately letting it had existed for some time before then. The 1988 Housing Act introduced ‘assured shorthold tenancies’ and overrode much of the legislation contained in the Rent Act eleven years earlier, reducing security of tenure for tenants and removing many restrictions on landlords. The prospect of becoming a landlord became more attractive and the number of buy to let mortgages has since increased significantly.

Lending peaked between 2006 and 2008, but the subsequent shrinkage of the market has not been indicative of lack of returns – simply of stricter lending criteria curbing the abundance of loans. Recent years have seen a small but steady growth, as demand from both buyers and renters continue to push house prices and rent up. This progression is particularly prevalent in the capital; Rightmove’s October 2012 House Price Index notes a 6.2% increase in house prices in London over the past year (comparing against a regional change of 1.5%; all regions have demonstrated an increase since September, with only the South East and Yorkshire-Humberside showing a decrease since October 2011). The popularity of buy to let can be attributed in part to its potential yield in both the long and short term; with rent set at 125% of the interest-only aspect of the mortgage repayments, landlords can generally make a profit through rental income (the margins increasing in line with the size of the property portfolio) before selling the property after it has appreciated in value.

As of 2012, the number of buy to let loans in effect stands as 1.4 million (up 17% from last year). Detractors of buy to let argue that the number of properties being bought for private rental is a contributory factor to the continued rise of house prices, but the ratio of buy to let investors to first time buyers over the last decade is less clear-cut in determining a causal relationship; high demand for the relatively low supply of properties in the UK is likely the largest determining factor. Those who support buy to let claim that a greater profusion of rental properties gives tenants a wider choice, and thus higher quality, of properties; this also means that landlords have it easier to attract the ‘right tenants’ for their property.

The average gross rental yield for UK property currently stands at 5.4%, ranging from 3.9% (in Belfast) to as high as 8.4% (in Liverpool). Whilst these figures might not represent as high a return as other investments, property is certainly performing better than the equity market, and demand is unlikely to decrease in the coming years. This means that rent will likely continue to appreciate in line with inflation.

This return is in addition to the tax breaks that buy to let landlords in the UK can enjoy. The UK is very popular with both local and overseas ‘jet to let’ investors because many expenses incurred in the running of a property can be offset against their income tax bill, including professional fees (letting agents, solicitors and accountants, for instance), travel, insurance premiums, mortgage interest rates, repairs and maintenance and losses on the sale of the property.

However, one should bear in mind that property is far more ‘hands-on’ than many other types of investment. Thorough research of an area, including development and local rates, is required, as is knowledge of the target demographic. A sound marketing strategy and an idea of projected monthly income and outgoings are advised. Whether or not a letting agent is employed in the day-to-day running of the property, a landlord needs to be well-versed in relevant legislature and know their rights and obligations.

Written by Brian Godfrey on behalf of TurnKey Landlords, the specialist buy to let mortgage arm of TurnKey Mortgages. TurnKey Landlords provides an expert buy to let mortgage brokerage service and a dedicated advice and guidance resource for landlords in the UK.