Robert Williams Estate Agents, Exeter
What's a 'flying freehold'?

A flying freehold applies where part of one property – for example an upper room or loft space – physically extends over another. This means that the owner of a flying freehold does not actually own the structure which supports that part of his or her property. They are therefore entirely dependent upon the goodwill of the owner of the adjoining property for its upkeep and structural integrity. A flying freehold can also exist where part of a property sits over a communal access area, like an archway.

Of course, this sort of thing happens all the time with houses that have been converted into separate flats, or purpose-built apartment blocks. These are invariably leasehold, so there is always a freeholder somewhere who retains the power to compel each leaseholder to maintain their part of the communal fabric.

Fortunately, they’re relatively rare in freeholds in most parts of the country these days. Nevertheless, they do persist in some areas, particularly with older properties.

In practice, flying freeholds have been around for donkeys’ years without causing anyone any trouble. However, because they are different to the ‘norm’ and something of an anomaly, solicitors, banks and building societies tend to be rather wary of them.

So, you fall in love with the property you’ve seen and want to buy it… well, while it’s undeniable that the flying freehold could complicate matters and your solicitor will certainly want to check it out thoroughly, however, most of the difficulties associated with flying freeholds are easily surmountable – for example, by taking out indemnity insurance.

So, if you’re faced with a flying freehold on a property that you really can’t resist, my advice would be to go for it.

If you’d like to discuss this in more depth, give us a call on 01392 204800.

How can I pay my mortgage off early?

Well, that depends on your circumstances.

If you have a lump sum - of savings, or from an inheritance or work bonus, etc - the first thing to check is whether your mortgage is subject to any annual limits; this is the amount you can overpay each year without incurring a fee, which is typically 10% of your original mortgage value, but it varies from lender to lender. If the lump sum is above the annual limit, you could keep some back for the next year. Obviously, paying a lump sum off your mortgage has an immediate effect on the balance and therefore the amount of interest you pay as well as the term of your mortgage.

Making monthly overpayments is another option. The annual limit will still apply, so be mindful of that. This would have a rippling effect on your mortgage, reducing your balance quicker and therefore reducing the amount of interest you pay over the term. If you plan to do this on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to let your lender know.

You could remortgage with a shorter term, which would lower the amount of interest you’d pay over the term but would commit you to an increase in your monthly payments. Before doing this, you must be confident you can afford a higher payment every month.

Some lenders offer an ‘offset mortgage’, which links your bank savings account to your mortgage – they offset one against the other and only charge interest on the difference. Check arrangement fees and interest rates though.

Before you do anything, check that paying your mortgage is right for you. Yes, there are many benefits, including lower interest rates for lower loan-to-value ratios and being mortgage-free sooner than you otherwise would have been. However, if you have any loans or debt at a higher interest rate than your mortgage, it makes sense to prioritise those. If you don’t have a pension, that might also be something to consider. If you have a lump sum, look at savings interest rates and if they’re higher than your mortgage rate then it could be more profitable short term to lock the money into savings, but bear in mind that interest on savings is taxable.

It goes without saying that, if your current mortgage deal is about to expire, make sure you switch to another deal to avoid being automatically transferred onto your lender’s Standard Variable Rate, and always pay any remortgage fee upfront as you’ll pay interest on it if you add it to your mortgage.

So, it’s not an easy question to answer as there are so many variables. My advice is, look at all angles before committing to anything, speak to your lender, and good luck in your quest!

People may give you differing answers to this question, however, my advice – and that of other property professionals – would always be to put your house on the market first.

It obviously wouldn’t do any harm to look at prices and check that it’s possible to buy what you want with your expected budget. However, any offers you make would almost certainly be rejected until such point that you are ‘proceedable’ – that is, you are in a position to proceed with the purchase. And if you need to sell your house to be able to buy, you’re not in that position until you have agreed a sale on yours.

A cash or first time buyer for your home would put you in the strongest position to make an offer on something else because, assuming their finances are in place, they are proceedable, therefore putting you in the same position. You would also have strength as a buyer if your home was under offer to someone with a proceedable buyer for theirs.

Different agents and sellers have varying viewpoints - some won’t even entertain allowing viewings by buyers who aren’t able to proceed straight away, and at the other end of the scale, there are some out there who would accept an offer and be happy to wait until such time that their offeree had a buyer – probably though for a set amount of time, or until an acceptable offer was made by someone in a stronger position.

It also depends on the state of the market. In a buoyant market with greater demand than supply, there is a greater chance of a buyer being found in a shorter amount of time than in a market when supply is greater, so more sellers would be inclined to wait.

And individual circumstances are also an influencing factor - some sellers need to move as soon as possible and others are in no hurry.

Fact is, you can’t buy until you’ve sold, so find a buyer first and put yourselves in the strongest possible position. You’d be sorely disappointed if you found your dream home and couldn’t buy it. With an offer on the table, you’ll have a more accurate idea of your budget too.

If you’d like any further advice, give us a call on 01392 204800.

These two values are indeed very different things. The market value of a property is what you would aim to sell it for, whereas the insured value is what it would cost to rebuild it in the event of a major fire, accident or subsidence, for example.

The market value is almost always higher because the insured value doesn’t need to consider the value of the land on which the property sits. However, in the case of listed buildings, properties made from non-standard materials, or those with special architectural features, the rebuild cost could actually be higher.

Insurance companies usually provide an estimate and increase their valuations annually in line with inflation. It’s important to tell them if you’ve extended or improved your home so they can take this into account.

We would however advise you to check the insured value yourself every few years, just to make sure you have adequate cover. There are two ways of doing this – the most accurate way is to hire a chartered surveyor to carry out a professional assessment, or the less costly option is to use the ABI (Association of British Insurers) BCIS (Building Cost Information Service) Residential Rebuilding Costs calculator at https://abi.bcis.co.uk/.

You’ll need to register, measure the gross external floor area of your home, and enter that as well as a few other details into the calculator. Once you have the result, you can compare it with your level of cover and ask your insurer to make any necessary adjustments. It might mean you pay a slightly higher premium, but it’s worth it for the peace of mind that there wouldn’t be a shortfall should you need to make a claim.

To find out the market value of your home, contact your local estate agent. We’d be happy to provide you with a market valuation free of charge and without obligation – just give us a call on 01392 204800.

All of these methods are offered by estate agents. Most properties are sold by Private Treaty, whereby a property is advertised at an asking price on the open market and when an offer is made, a sale price can be negotiated and agreed. At this point, the property becomes Sold Subject to Contract while the legal searches are carried out and contracts drawn up. When everything is in order and the sale/purchase can proceed, the contracts are signed and exchanged, the deposit paid and a completion date set. This process works to an unspecified timeframe and either party can withdraw from their sale or purchase up to the point of exchange of contracts – this is the contentious part of the current home buying/selling process in England and Wales. The transaction is legally binding at the point of exchange of contracts, and then the settlement of outstanding funds and handover of keys mark the transfer of ownership and completion.

Sale by Informal Tender is less common and is used if there are – or there are expected to be – several interested buyers. The property is advertised as normal on the open market. Prospective buyers are asked to submit a sealed bid (or ‘tender’), usually within a specific timeframe and then the vendor and their agent selects either the highest bid or the one from the most suitable buyer, whichever is the more important factor under the vendor’s circumstances. The property then becomes Sold Subject to Contract and the transaction proceeds in the same way as a Private Treaty sale/purchase.

The more unusual method is sale by Formal Tender, which combines the processes of both informal tender and auction. The legal pack is prepared before marketing and the property is marketed openly for a set amount of time, during which, bids are invited. Unlike Informal Tender, interested parties sign a contract and provide deposit details when placing their bid (or ‘tender’), and unlike Public Auction, all bids are confidential. The highest or most suitable tender is selected and upon acceptance the deposit is paid and contracts are immediately exchanged, legally binding both the buyer and seller to the transaction. With the legal work, deposit and contracts already in place, completion is set for a date usually within 28 days.

Your estate agent will be able to advise which is the most appropriate method for your property and your circumstances. If you’d like to discuss anything property-related, give us a call on 01392 204800.

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