Well, it’s not absolutely necessary but it would be sensible to do so.
If you are relatively young, the whole subject of making a will may sound a bit morbid – not to say premature! Nevertheless, you have just made probably the biggest joint investment in your lives, so you want to be sure that both your interests are equally protected.
For the sake of argument, I’m assuming that you did buy it jointly, and that it is in both your names. However, there are actually two different types of joint ownership – and you need to check.
If you own the property as ‘Joint Tenants’ – in other words, what most people actually think of as joint owners - then each of you should automatically become the sole owner of the entire property if the other dies, irrespective of whether you are married or not.
If however, you own the property as ‘Tenants in Common’, the surviving partner has no automatic right of inheritance and the deceased’s share becomes part of his or her estate to be distributed, in the absence of a will, according to the rules of intestacy - which in practice means that it goes to any living relatives in a strictly laid-down order of precedence, or even reverts to the Crown.
Of course, if you are married or in a civil partnership, then that’s not a problem, since the spouse automatically comes top of the list. But if you’re not, and therefore from a legal standpoint you are only co-habiting, then the only recourse open to the surviving co-owner would be to buy out the deceased’s share.
Either way, to be on the safe side, I would advise making two so-called ‘mirror’ wills, which basically match and reflect each other so that in the event that either party dies, the survivor is equally protected. A bit morbid perhaps, but it’s better to be safe than sorry.
This is one of the things often used as an example of how unprofessional estate agents can sometimes be. However, your agent is actually legally obliged to pass on all formal offers right up until contracts are exchanged, which is of course when the agreement becomes legally binding. Up to that point, your buyer is entitled to change their offer at any time – and by the same token, you are equally free to accept another offer.
Now, this might make sense in the case of higher offers, but why pass on lower offers? Well, in certain circumstances, a slightly lower offer may actually be in your best interests. For example, if you absolutely must move by a certain date and you’ve already accepted an offer but your buyer is trapped in a slow-moving chain, a marginally lower offer from, say, a cash buyer – someone who can effectively guarantee completion within your timeframe – may well be worth considering.
Practical and legal points aside, there is, of course, a moral argument to this rule – moving home is a big event in anyone’s life and once an agreement is made, most ideally wouldn’t want to renege on the deal and let the other party down. If you really are set on accepting a particular offer, irrespective of any others that might materialise, then you can always absolve your agent of his legal duty by confirming your wishes in writing.
At the end of the day, everyone’s situation is different and you have to do what’s right for you; if it meant your family was going to be homeless then you would have to do the right thing for your family, even if it did mean breaking a chain or letting others down. Given the choice, I’m sure we’d all opt for the more morally ‘right’ option if we could.
Your estate agent will advertise your house, make sure that the details are seen by potential buyers and arrange and attend viewing appointments but yes, there are actually a few things you can do to help the process to a speedy completion with minimal stress.
We have produced a series of quick tips for you to learn more about this very topic.
A. The market is certainly quieter right now – and has been for some time, of course. Mind you, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be an increase in activity this month, in fact we are already seeing the early signs of this in website traffic which is up by 25% from a month ago. Admittedly, it might be stretching a point to describe it as “the autumn rush!” Nevertheless, the fact remains that September usually sees something of an uplift in buyer activity – even if it’s only relative - and there’s no reason why this year should be any different.
However, it actually doesn’t matter very much whether there is a rush or not. The reality is that the housing market always has its busier times and its quieter periods. And despite the popular belief – particularly among sellers - that a busy market is almost by definition a good market, the terms are by no means interchangeable. Yes, there may well be more prospective buyers rushing around during “busy” times. But for precisely that reason, they will generally have a lot more properties to choose from as well.
As for whether or not you would be better advised to wait before putting your current home on the market…that all rather depends on how much you actually need to move – and the tone of your question certainly implies that you have some leeway as far as timing is concerned.
What this really comes down to, therefore, is the perennial question – shall I sell now or hang on for a better price?
Whatever’s happening to prices generally, it’s always tempting to wait. The one tiny flaw in this argument, however, is that we are currently in a falling market, so by waiting to go on the market, you're increasing the chances of receiving lower offers.
So, my advice is simple: if you are serious about moving, then there is really nothing to be gained by hanging on. Just be sure to listen to what your agent says about pricing – and be prepared to consider offers. Otherwise, you could be in for a rather longer wait that you bargained for!
What a summer it has been, record breaking in fact. Maintenance is a must for landlords this year. We have put together our top tips so you can fix small issues now and prevent them escalating later when the weather changes later in the year.
Start your checklist of things ‘to do’ with a property inspection. These should be being done a minimum of quarterly, although this can be twice a year for those tenants you feel confident with.
Arrange a mutually convenient time to meet your tenants at the property and check the conditions against the inventory report you made at the beginning. Then any changes you or they must make can be highlighted. Double check with the tenants that there’s nothing they’ve noticed that needs attention. Sometimes people find these conversations easier in person rather than emailing or phoning.
After the inspection, write it up into a report as then you and the tenants have a document to agree who needs to do what before the next inspection. It makes your expectations clear and also demonstrates your commitment to looking after the property.
Please note: Robert Williams Lettings Team completes these checks for you and provides you with a detailed report.
Hot weather damage
Winter is normally when we are most aware of weather affecting properties but the summer can actually be as destructive, especially with the temperatures it’s been this year. Take care to notice damage the conditions could have caused.
Dry weather can increase subsidence, which can have serious effects on the foundations and make properties unstable. Cracks in the walls, often around weak spots like windows and doors, or extensions can be a sign this is starting.
Make sure as well that your landlord insurance covers you for subsidence as it is possibly a long term problem if it starts.
All gardens have suffered with the weather due to the sun. Of course waiting for the rain is an option but make sure the tenants are aware of their responsibilities too.
In the inspection report, include a garden section, a description of the current condition and how to be maintain it before winter hits. The plants, shrubs and grass must be cut back to it is clear, tidy and before the cold comes.
If the garden becomes overgrown, it can harbour pests and also make it much harder to re-let. Ensure the tenants are aware you will continue to check the outside space on your subsequent inspections.
Check doors and windows
Often tenants go on holiday in the summer so the property is empty. This can provide an excellent opportunity to do some work on the exterior. Focus on windows and doors, firstly that they open and close easily.
With windows, check the exterior putty around the panes. Apply lubricating oil to hinges and also replace worn out draught excluders.
A contractor can remove rotten wood and jobs like this are worth their weight as they prevent bigger problems occurring in wet winter weather.
Chimney and roof checks
Summer is the best time to check the top of the house and it is best to hire a contractor for this too. So many accidents happen to the inexperienced or those without the correct equipment. It is rarely worth the risk.
Get leaves and debris cleared away and check roof flashings for cracks or leaks. Ensure any tiles are affixed firmly or replaced so it’s all sturdy through winter.
Sort this sooner rather than later before the weather turns and save yourself a lot of money in the future.
‘Who you gonna call?’
If you have not got the time to carry out and write inspection reports, check gardens, assess wall cracks, ensure windows are sealed, make sure hinges are working, get up on the roof and fix it if necessary, don’t worry. You don’t have to do it all yourself. If you are a busy private landlord, please get in touch and we can easily recommend our trusted traders. Alternatively, we can talk you through the package options for managing your property so you get the investment results without the hassle.
Robert Williams Estate Agents, 2 Southernhay West, Exeter, EX1 1JG
Tel: 01392 204800 | Sales: firstname.lastname@example.org Lettings: email@example.com