Buying and Selling Guide
At Cooper Brouard we know that excellent presentation and comprehensive exposure through the internet and printed and social media are vital for effectively marketing your home.
We use professional quality digital cameras, clear floor plans, bespoke videos and concise language to produce our acclaimed property details. In addition, our constantly updated online presence ensures those details are on your potential buyer’s doorstep, social media account or email inbox without delay.
The combined experience of our negotiating team allows us to offer the best advice when negotiating your sale. Accompanied viewings and swift feedback keep you informed at all times.
But how do you ensure moving house and selling your property goes as smoothly as possible? Read our top ten tips to find out more.
Ten Essential Steps For A Smooth Home Purchase
Step 1: Set Your Budget
You have probably already been looking at properties that offer you the size and facilities you require — so the next stage is to figure out what you can afford to buy!
If you already own a property, arrange for us to give you a free verbal valuation. To speed up the buying process, some owners ask us to take sales particulars of their property in readiness to put on the market as soon as they find a home to buy. As a property owner, you may choose to sell before you buy and rent while you house hunt. This puts you in a strong position as a “cash buyer”, because you don’t have to wait until your house is under offer in order to make an offer.
Step 2: Borrowing? Speak to a Bank or Financial Advisor
They will ask for bank statements and utility bills to assess the level of lending they will allow. Don’t be afraid to shop around for comparison, in order to get the best offer possible.
Step 3: Continue House Hunting
Guernsey has a relatively small supply of properties on the market at any one time so don’t be too rigid in your requirements or you will have very little to view. The more properties you view, the easier it is recognise value for money and how realistic your expectations are; plus you may be pleasantly surprised by a property you did not like on the particulars.
Step 4: You’ve Found Your Dream Home
If you are a first time or cash buyer then it’s time to make an offer. On the other hand, if you have a property to sell before you can buy contact us to get your property on the market as quickly as possible (see our guide Preparing Your Home for Market below). When you have an offer on your own property you can make an offer on the property you wish to buy.
Step 5: UK Sellers
If you are selling in the UK, it is worth noting that the sale process in Guernsey moves more swiftly, typically 20 working days, than on the mainland. You will need to have at least exchanged contracts in the UK before committing to conditions of sale in Guernsey, the sales contract which are binding on signature and payment of a deposit, typically 10%.
Step 6: Property Matters
Your offer may need to be subject to a satisfactory survey of the property, finance approval from your lender, licence to occupy the property, but definitely must be subject to property matters, which include your advocate’s searches of the title of the property. You will also need to agree a completion date. This is the day on which the property will be conveyed to you in the court and on which you will take possession.
Step 7: Conditions of Sale
After an offer has been accepted, we will prepare a standard contract and an inventory of personalty being left in the property, known as conditions of sale.
This sets out the terms of the sale, the completion date (typically 6 to 8 weeks after agreeing a sale) and an operative date (normally around 20 working days after an offer is accepted) by which you must have had your survey, finance and any other conditions agreed. At this point you should contact your lender with details of the house and ask them to arrange a survey of the property promptly.
Note: there is no binding legal contract between you and the seller until both parties have signed conditions of sale and you have paid your deposit.
Step 8: Legal Formalities
As a buyer you must instruct an advocate to act on your behalf. You will be allocated a conveyancing clerk, who will ensure that the conditions of sale have been prepared correctly, the ownership of the property is clear, and that boundaries are as described on the title deeds.
The clerk will also advise on when you can sign conditions of sale and pay a deposit. This is normally 10% of the purchase price, but with the seller’s approval this can be reduced to 5%.
Both Cooper Brouard and your advocates are required under Anti Money Laundering and counter the Financing of Terrorism laws to collect due diligence on you including authorisation of you identity, residency and source of funds.
Step 9: Buying Costs
Be aware of all these extra buying costs! You will have to pay:
● Document duty and advocates fees on the realty price (purchase price minus the value of the items on the inventory – generally no greater than 2.5% of the purchase value) of the property you are purchasing.
● Document Duty: payable via your advocates to The States of Guernsey.
The rates are:
- 2.25% of the consideration or market value up to £250,000
- 3.5% between £250,000 and £400,000
- 4% – between £400,000 and £750,000
- 4.25% between £750,000 and £1,000,000
- 4.5% between £1,000,000 and £2,000,000
- 5.5% of the consideration or market value above £2,000,000
● Advocate Fees: since the introduction of the monopoly law in 2012 there is no fixed advocate’s fee on property sales. We recommend you get quotes from at least two firms but bear in mind the quality of advice is just as important as the size of the bill.
Call us for advice if you are unsure who to ask.
Step 10: Tying up loose ends
Once conditions of sale are signed and binding, there are a few things to put in place before going to court. These small but important steps can be easy to forget, so it’s good to follow a checklist!
● Arrange house/contents insurance.
● Arrange Life insurance for the mortgage (this and the house insurance may be required by your lender before they issue their mortgage facility letter).
● Obtain estimates from removal companies.
● Advise water, telephone, gas, oil, and electricity suppliers to arrange final readings at your current home and arrange supply and billing in your new home.
● Empty cesspool at existing home if not on main drain.
● Re-direct post to new address.
● Leave contact numbers for tradesman who have worked in your existing home.
● Leave instructions and guarantees for appliances being left in your existing house.
● Advise change of address to, for example:
- States of Guernsey Driving Licence and Vehicle registration
- Bank, building society, credit card company
- Tax and social security offices
- Doctor, dentist, vets etc
- Medical and other insurances
- Friends, relations and neighbours
- Clubs and associations
- Premium Bonds, National Savings, stocks and shares registrars
- Pension companies
- Your purchaser
- Standing orders i.e. Sky TV, HP providers
With all these in place, it only remains for you to arrive at your advocates offices or meet them in the Royal Court building just after 9.00 am on the completion date. You will have received a statement from them detailing the balance of the purchase price that you are required to pay. You will be taken to the Royal Court and in front of a Jurat, you and the vendor will give your consent to the conveyance of the property. If you are borrowing money the same process is repeated for the bond.
Preparing Your Home for Market
Experts tell us that within 15 seconds of entering a property we have made our mind up if we can make it our home. That may not always be the case, but it does emphasise how important first impressions are. If you’re selling your home, find some time and make a checklist of essential jobs — luckily we’ve put one together to get you started!
Exterior – First Impressions
Look at the front of your property with a critical eye. Forget that you are the owner who has walked through the front door hundreds of times, not noticing the slightly chipped paint, weed filled lawn or dripping pipe. Imagine you are a prospective purchaser on a viewing or doing a drive-by. What will their first impression be?
Here are things to look out for:
● Check that the house name or number is clearly visible.
● Keep the grass cut and hedges trimmed.
● Is there a wall or fence that needs attention?
● Remove weeds – especially anything growing in the rainwater gutters!
● Even if it doesn’t need re-decorating, give the paintwork a wash.
● Make the windows sparkle.
● Clean paths and paving.
● Remove anything that doesn’t need to be seen, including dustbins and plant pots if they’re not in flower or looking their best.
The rear garden is also important, but most buyers will want to see inside the house first.
We all know how important it is to declutter, but not everyone is able to do it properly. Think of it as a head start on the packing you will have to do anyway. If it cannot be sold, donated or disposed of then plan on having somewhere to store it – preferably away from the property.
Here are some other ways you can declutter:
● Clear hallways of coats and shoes.
● Remove pieces of furniture if it makes it easier for two or more people to walk through.
● Halve the number of pictures and ornaments.
● Bedrooms: take out unseasonal clothes and hang shirts together, trousers together and jackets together – just in case buyers can’t resist having a peek at how much storage there is when the estate agent isn’t looking.
● Show a room off at its best by positioning furniture correctly. For instance, the trend for large televisions does not suit all rooms.
Creating a Welcoming Ambience
There are numerous websites giving advice about how best to present your house for sale and they all stress how buyers are attracted to clean and spacious rooms. You’ll want your home to be as clean and tidy as possible, to make sure you’re showing the property to its best importance. It’s an obvious point, but makes all the difference!
Here are a few things to consider:
● Vacuum and dust the house more regularly and use furniture polish for that aroma of feelgood nostalgia.
● Dark wall colours can make rooms appear smaller than they are; consider repainting walls in neutral tones. Bright colours are best avoided too; you don’t want to be remembered as ‘that house with the lime green bathroom’!
● Eliminate unpleasant odours with fresh flowers, scented candles or air fresheners – nothing overpowering, just enough to offer a pleasant ambience, especially if there is a lingering aroma of wet dog or stale tobacco in the air.
● It is not unusual for homeowners to go as far as shampooing carpets before the house is put on the market for sale. You might surprise yourself with the difference this makes.
For many people the kitchen is the centre of a family home; a practical working area rather than a showcase. We all like to think our kitchen would pass the test, but all too often they do not make the grade. There are lots of little things you can do to breathe new life into this hub of the home:
● Clean or whiten tiling grout on the walls.
● Straighten wonky cupboard doors and drawers.
● New flooring is a relatively inexpensive way to lift a tired kitchen.
● Replacing old appliances or the kitchen sink is more than many vendors would want to do, but there is no excuse for these items not to be sparkling clean.
● Invest in new hand towels and tea towels, but don’t leave them just hanging around.
● Remove cat and dog food from the floor – it’s clutter and the smell is unpleasant.
● It may be nice to display children’s school artwork or friends’ postcards on the fridge door, but it’s distracting for buyers and best avoided.
● Take away the cookery books, perhaps with the exception of the latest Jamie or Nigella even if you haven’t opened the covers since receiving them the Christmas before last.
● Organise cupboards by disposing of outdated tins and half empty packets to make the cupboards appear more spacious.
● Last but not least, give the kitchen a daily sprucing.
● Good natural light is an asset but not always plentiful, so make the most of what there is.
● An estate agent will often lift net curtains or open blinds to show how additional light shines into a room.
● Room lighting is also important, so make sure all the light bulbs work and clear cobwebs and dust from lampshades.
The rear garden might be the last thing a buyer looks at, but it certainly isn’t the least important. For many this will form the final impression of the house, so best make sure your back garden is looking its very best. Here are a few things you can do:
● As with the front, keep the grass and any plants or hedges looking neat and tidy.
● Clear away dustbins, pots and anything that does not need to be there.
● If you have paving, give it a power clean to blast away any stubborn dirt.
● Only keep out patio furniture if it’s looking pristine.
● Explain to your children that in a small garden climbing frames and trampolines may need to be taken down whilst the property is on the market.
● Place a suitable mat by the front and back doors on which prospective buyers can wipe their feet or leave their shoes.
Last But Not Least: Learn to Let Go
The buyers are purchasing a lifestyle as much as the bricks and mortar. They should be encouraged to imagine themselves living in your property and this is best achieved with as few traces of the current owners as possible. This might sound harsh when you are selling your home but try and disassociate yourself.
Make a mental decision to let go and imagine handing over the keys to the new owners. Follow our advice and then you will be ready sell your property and your property will be ready to sell!
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