Robert Williams Estate Agents, Exeter
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This week, Graham answers a question commonly asked by sellers. And the answer is...
A: The basic rule is that you’re free to take anything that you didn’t specifically say would be staying. Make sure your agent doesn’t include anything in the sales particulars that you plan to take with you – that way, your buyer/s won’t expect it to be there when they take ownership.
Secondly and more importantly, at the beginning of the conveyancing process your solicitor will ask you to complete a ‘Fixtures and Fittings’ form, on which you are required to list the specific items which are to stay with the property. This document forms part of the legal contract between you and your buyer, so you can’t just change your mind on a whim - otherwise you are technically breaching the terms of that contract.
The one real exception to the basic rule involves the issue of safety. So, for example, while you are perfectly free to remove any light fittings which aren’t specifically listed, you are not entitled to leave bare wires hanging out of the ceiling or walls.
Things like carpets and curtains probably wouldn’t measure up to the exact sizes and shapes needed to fit your new home in any case, but needless to say, if you do decide that you want to take those after all – despite having originally promised to leave them behind – you must inform your solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.
It’s worth remembering that the Fixtures and Fittings form also covers the garden so, if you don’t actually specify which plants and shrubs are staying, you are theoretically entitled to take them all with you. However, I suspect most people would regard this as rather extreme! If you want to dig up any specific plants and take them to your new home then make sure that it is mentioned in the forms, your solicitor is informed as soon as possible, or you have the blessing of your buyers.
If you’d like any advice on any aspect of selling a home, we have years of experience within our team. Give us a call on 01392 204800.


The English Housing Survey 2021-22 reveals the three most common reasons for homeowners to have moved home in the last 3 years.
(For reference: Younger owner occupiers are aged 16 to 54 and older owner occupiers are aged 55 and over).
If you're thinking about buying your first home, upsizing, downsizing or moving to a different area then we can help.
We cover all of Exeter as well as the surrounding South Devon towns and villages.


Join the Q&A with Graham. Do you have a property-related question? Just ask Graham!
A: You’re right to think about this as there are several costs associated with buying a home and you do need to take them into account.
The first thing is of course your deposit. You’ll need a minimum of 5% but in most cases 10%, or more if you can - interest rates are generally better for lower loan-to-value mortgages.
Stamp Duty (SDLT) is the largest cost. At the moment, in England and NI, the rates are 0% on properties under £250,000; 5% on £250,001-£925,000; 10% on £925,001-£1,500,000, and 12% on £1,500,001+. For first time buyers, it’s 0% to £425,000, then 5% from £425,001 to £625,000. You pay in proportion. So, for example, if you’re buying at £500,000 the first £250,000 is at 0% and you’d pay 5% of the remaining £250,000, so £12,500.
Conveyancing is the legal process carried out by a conveyancer/solicitor. The fee varies, but allow £500 to £1,150, then an additional £500+ for disbursements, including searches, Land Registry, etc. Note that SDLT and conveyancing fees may be more for leasehold properties.
Then there are valuation/survey costs. Your lender will probably charge around £200-£300 to do a valuation, and depending on the property, and you could opt for a more in-depth survey too, which could cost from £300 to £1,000+.
Some mortgages come with a Mortgage Arrangement Fee, which can range massively, depending on the mortgage. Some are paid upfront, others can be added to the loan.
If you buy at auction, there's a buyers’ fee. Other than removals, that’s about it in terms of the costs involved in buying, but it’s best to factor in the likely running costs: gas and electricity, Council Tax, water rates, TV/broadband services, insurances, and, for leasehold properties, ground rent and service charges. You may also want to get life insurance to pay off the loan in the case of your death.
It’s a costly business, but I think you’ll agree, homeownership is indeed a privilege, and the rewards are well worth it, providing you don’t overstretch yourself of course.
If we can help in any way, just give us a call on 01392 204800.
Good luck in your quest!
Join our Q&A with Graham - if you have any property-related questions, just ask us!
A. Almost everyone has dreamed of living in a thatched cottage at some time or other. However, despite the alluring epitome of cosiness, most of us never actually buy one. Partly because there aren’t that many around – just over 60,000 of them in the whole of the UK.
Also, although there has been something of a mini-revival in the use of thatch for new architect-designed homes in recent years, around 75% of thatched properties are listed, which comes with some restrictions. And then there’s the thatch itself, which does need special care and attention. There is no denying though that thatch makes a quintessentially beautiful home.
All thatched cottages require re-roofing from time to time, and this can be a costly exercise – so one thing to consider when thinking about buying such a property is the condition of the roof. What kind of thatching material has been used, when was it last replaced (as a rule, long straw needs replacing every 25 years or so, while Norfolk reed can last up to 60 years), and how much would it cost to have it done today? Have any special fire-retardant coatings have been applied, and when? Also, it’s normally necessary to replace the ridge approximately halfway through the roof’s lifetime.
It’s also worth bearing in mind though that no roof lasts forever, and a well-made and maintained thatched roof is in reality very easy to live with. Its naturally insulating properties, the thickness of the projecting eves generally doing away with the need for guttering, and of course there’s the enormous visual appeal, as well as the pleasure of knowing that you are the custodian of a piece of living history.
All in all, for those prepared to face up to the additional responsibilities of ownership, there is undoubtedly something uniquely rewarding about living in a thatched cottage.
We have RICS Chartered Surveyors and property specialists within our team, who can help answer more general questions or those about any specific property.
For more advice, give us a call on 01392 204800.
Join our Q&A with Graham. If you have any property-related questions, just ask us!
A: Searches are a vitally important part of the conveyancing process. They are basically a series of checks made by the buyer’s solicitor to ensure that everything about the property is as it should be, so their client’s purchase can proceed without complication. Or indeed that any complications are ironed out, if possible, before the transaction can complete. Searches are an outside expense and therefore must be paid to the solicitor upfront.
There are four main types of searches:
1. Local searches. These are commissioned from the Local Authority and check things like planning applications and major changes in the infrastructure nearby; things that may affect the area and might influence your decision on buying that particular property.
2. Environmental and specialist searches. The Environmental search investigates any previous uses of the land to ascertain whether there is likely to be any contamination to the surrounding environment or threat to the property, including areas prone to flooding. Specialist searches tend to differ in different parts of the country, for example, in old mining territories or where there has previously been some sort of industry, higher levels of radon gas or Chancel Repair liabilities.
3. Land Registry searches. These provide all the necessary ownership information about a property and give details of the boundaries and any restricted covenants, as well as revealing any whether there are any debts outstanding on it or anything else of concern.
4. And finally, the Water & Drainage searches, which give information on how water is supplied to the property and details of the drainage and any public sewers that flow through the boundaries. These details may affect any intentions to extend, for example.
Delays can occur for any number of reasons. For example, although Local Authority data is being digitized, the process won’t be fully complete until 2025 so many searches still require the attention of council staff and as a result, local search times can vary enormously from one area to another.
There is of course also the possibility that the results of the searches could flag up issues that need attention before solicitors are satisfied the transaction can progress. The way forward will greatly depend on the nature of the issues, but solicitors deal with these things all the time and will advise accordingly.
We have years of experience with home sales as well as specialist sales progressors within our team. For more advice on searches or any other property-related matter, give us a call on 01392 204800.


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