With the pace of change in technology it can be very difficult to keep up to date and know what is the best mobile device for you or which home entertainment system will best serve your needs. But at least with technology you are using it every day and engaged with it most of the time. So generally people will know what works for them or will listen to friends and family and rely on the experts in the stores.
If we now think about your prospective home, how do you get the advice you need? Beyond the visual appeal and deciding the location that is right for you, how do you know if the building is well constructed? That you know all the costs and charges that you will face? Who do you trust for sound quality advice?
If I set the scene on who fulfils what role during the home purchase process then it may be possible to give you some clear guidance on who to trust and how best to equip yourself. Your home will be THE major purchase you make and it is one that is extremely infrequent and therefore it is entirely fair that you would not have the knowledge base or clear path for assistance.
The players in the home purchase process will typically be the estate agent, the developer, the mortgage company, and the solicitor. With all those roles how many are acting for you? Well only the solicitor in reality, because that is the only person you instruct.
The estate agent is there to act for the person SELLING the property. They are not there to help you buy. They have a duty of care and they have a code to follow to ensure they do not mislead you. But it is important to know they are there to get the best price for the seller.
The seller may be an individual or you may be buying direct from the developer. If you are buying from an individual they should be transparent and answer all questions fairly, however I have come across situations where deliberate misinformation has been given by the person selling. If you are buying direct from the developer then you can be pretty sure you will get clear information and assistance. Of course the developer is trying to get the best price they possibly can and will present in the best light. Most are professional and abide by codes and they will want to take you the process to work with you. However, you must be clear, they are not on your side, and you are their customer.
The mortgage company are there to lend the money to facilitate you buying your home. Their role is entirely for themselves. They want to make their financial return by lending money and receiving interest plus the money lent back over the life of the loan. They care that the home you are buying is a good investment for them and that their loan is safe and protected. That means they can be as sure as possible the home will hold its value. Therefore if they arrange a home buyers report and valuation, then that is for them and their requirements. It is not something that will necessarily be an assurance to you on the property. You will be expected to pay for it as part of the transaction costs, but do not believe it will meet your needs.
The solicitor you appoint is most certainly on your side. Choose your solicitor with care and diligence. You should research who will best serve your needs. Personally I would avoid a solicitor recommended by the estate agent because I would want to obtain quotes from a number of different firms and know who will be best for me. As tempting as it may be, do not be suckered into accepting the lowest quote. There are a large number of very large firms of conveyancers who will offer a very cheap service. For something as important as your home purchase I would want to be part of a factory conveyancing process!
So how do you level up the teams and ensure you are not playing a one sided game? Well there is wealth of guidance available that exists on line. Obviously the Leasehold Advisory Service has excellent guides on its website. Equally the National Housebuilding Federation, the RICS, the NHBC have guidance. Alternatively there are organisations such as Home Owner’s Alliance and Which? all have assistance.
Make sure the most exciting purchase you can make is done with eyes wide open and you even up the teams. Dream as you view but wake up to the reality of the seriousness of the buying process.
Non Exec Chair
Leasehold Advisory Service