Searches are an integral and extremely important part of the conveyancing process. Basically, they comprise a series of checks made by the buyer’s solicitor to ensure that everything about the property is as it should be. 

Broadly speaking, searches fall into 3 main categories:

  1. Local searches. These are commissioned from the local authority and are concerned with things like planning issues and major changes to the infrastructure of the area.
  2. Specialised and environmental searches. These often tend to be more important in particular parts of the country – for example, in areas liable to flooding, or where there are old mine workings.
  3. Land Registry searches. These not only provide all the necessary ownership information about a property, but also reveal whether there are any debts outstanding on it or anything else of concern. 

Solicitors will normally handle these enquiries directly, except in the case of local searches, where they may employ the services of a specialist personal search company. 

Generally speaking, searches have to be paid for upfront as they are an expense. If the sale falls through for any reason, the buyer will still have to reimburse the solicitor for this outlay – even where the actual conveyancing work is offered on a ‘no sale-no fee’ basis. 

As for delays, these can occur for any number of reasons. For example, even in this day and age, local authority searches can’t be conducted at the click of a mouse. They require the attention of council staff so at any given time, some local authorities may simply be too short-staffed to handle search enquiries quickly - as a result, local search times can vary enormously from one area to another, from less than a week to well over a month. With some solicitors, it is also general practice to hold off commissioning searches until their client has received a firm mortgage offer – just in case the whole deal falls at the first hurdle. 

So, if you want to minimise the risk of any delay, get your mortgage offer sorted out as soon as possible and instruct your solicitor to order the searches right away.

testing the market

Firstly, your home is not necessarily worth what you think it is. The truth is that every property is worth precisely what a serious buyer is prepared to pay for it and that’s why pricing is the most difficult part of the whole selling process to get right. 

Now, of course we all want to get the best possible price for our homes so it’s always tempting to err on the optimistic side. After all, years ago, it wasn’t unknown for property to sell for substantially more than its original valuation. However, those days are gone and going to market at an inflated price is not a good idea – particularly now, given that there are fewer buyers than then and those that are in the market are understandably price conscious. 

In the current climate, it’s not even worth taking a punt, just in case there’s someone out there who’s prepared to pay a bit over the odds for his or her dream home. By doing so, you could actually be spoiling your best chance of getting a sale – and that’s certainly not something you want to risk doing in today’s market. Statistics show that properties invariably attract the most viewings during their first few weeks on the market and that’s also generally the time when the best offers are made. Thereafter, buyer interest declines. Even when prices are later reduced, it can be difficult to persuade buyers to reconsider a property they have already rejected. 

You might like to consider asking your agent about marketing your home on the basis of ‘offers in excess of…’, which is a bit like setting a reserve price at auction and if pitched at the right level, it could generate extra buyer interest. But take the advice of your agent – after all, they’re the ones with market experience.

For an in-depth look at the 3 common pests that occupy the interior, exterior and interior/exterior areas of properties, read our identification guide below:

Interior

There are several pests that take up residence within our properties. The most common have been listed and detailed below:

Bed bugs

Bed bugs are one of the most disruptive pests in the home and neglecting to eliminate them can cause serious discomfort and hygiene issues. Bed bugs commonly infest beds, sofas, carpets and curtains. They're an incredibly small pest, which makes them hard to identify. However, they do leave notable trails behind, making identifying them easier. They leave smear marks and old skin shells in and around the places they inhabit.

Bed bugs can be removed effectively in proper pest control measures are employed. If you do discover a bed bug infestation, notify your landlord or estate agent immediately.

Cockroaches

Notoriously known as one of the worst pests to have. Cockroaches are tough to eliminate due to their hard shells and ability to withstand most harmful pest chemicals. Cockroaches can also survive on any food and can survive months without food.

They can be identified by their oval shape, their 3-inch-long bodies and their orange/brown colouring. Many species have wings, however some cannot fly. They can next anywhere in the house, but be sure to look behind cupboards, around skirting boards and in any cracks or gaps in the wall.

Mice

While they can be found outside, mice enjoy warmth and food, which usually leads them into houses. Mice are known for hiding in crevices, under floorboards and generally dark places, out of immediate sight. While they don’t cause us any immediate harm, they breed exceptionally quickly, and this can become a hygiene problem.

Mice can be identified by their small brown/grey bodies, with an average size of 3-8cm. While it’s rare to spot a mouse out in the open of your home, there are notable signs to look out for, such as their droppings. Mice droppings are usually grouped, and they commonly dig up carpet to use in their nests.

Exterior

Pests infiltrating the exterior of your property can cause just as much damage as those that reside within. Pests such as rats, birds and wasps can cause severe harm to the structure of your property and need to be dealt with swiftly.

Birds

Birds can become a nuisance if they’re not dealt with immediately. Once birds find a place to nest, it can become difficult to relocate them, especially if they’re pigeons. Birds cause disruptions by nesting in exterior structures such as gutters, piping and roofing.

Identifying birds is fairly simple, as they’re not exactly discrete. Aside from their squawking, the bigger issue is their droppings, particularly pigeon droppings, as they’re incredibly acidic and notoriously difficult to clean from certain surfaces. If the droppings are left to fester, they will permanently damage the surface, and this is especially harmful to cars and other expensive belongings.

Wasps

Wasps are, for the most part, helpful. However, no one likes wasps because they disrupt our summers and fly into our drinks, but this isn’t the biggest issue they cause. Wasps nests can become very dangerous if they’re left to develop and identifying them early is essential. Fortunately, they’re quite noticeable by their distinct structure and that buzzing sound. They’re usually spotted underneath gutters, cracks within exterior walls, sheds and other crevices high up. Additionally, it’s not uncommon to find them in trees, if the tree is big enough.

Either way wasp nests are very dangerous, and it’s strongly advised you contact your landlord, estate agent or pest control company to safely remove the nest.

Foxes

In most cases, foxes don’t disrupt people because they prefer to nest away from us. However, foxes occasionally raise their young in our gardens and they can become an issue for us. The biggest problem they cause is tearing apart our bins and disrupting our gardens and wildlife. Identifying them is simple enough but as they only really come out at night, its rare you will spot one in the day. You'll be able to tell if you have a fox if your bins are regularly opened and shredded. If your fox problem is becoming severe, ensure your bins are sealed shut and call a pest control professional if they continue to reside within your premises.

Interior and Exterior

There are some pests that dominate both the interior and exterior of properties.

Rats

Arguably the most common pest, rats are unsightly and can cause severe damage to your property if left untreated. Not only do they breed rapidly, they’re carriers of disease, meaning they present a serious health and safety issue.

Rats, in a similar vein to mice, prefer to keep a low profile, hiding in crevices, under floorboards and in gardens. They can, however, be identified by their droppings they leave behind. Rat droppings are not grouped like mice, as they defecate on the move. Be on the lookout for gnaw marks and chewed furniture as their teeth continue to grow and they will grind them down biting on things.

Ants

Ants are known to be pests that occupy both the interior and exterior of our properties. Ants on their own aren’t particularly harmful, but in numbers, they can cause hygiene issues, as well as structural damage.

Ants living outside of the property can nest in cracks in the wall, leading to structural damage and eventually, infiltration into the property. These nests are tough to remove and require trained professionals if the nest is too big for filler to cover it. once ants are inside, they’ll be looking for food, so ensure everything is sealed tight and call a pest control professional to assess the situation if it’s serious.

Woodlice

Again, not a particularly harmful pest on their own, but in numbers, they can cause structural damage. Woodlice love damp places, particularly woody areas. They aren’t known for residing in the interiors of properties, but if they are found inside, it’s usually a sign of damp within the property. They can also be found within exterior walls, which can lead them inside the property if nothing is done.

They can be identified by their small, grey oval shaped forms, being about 1cm long and they usually travel in large groups.

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If you do notice any signs of pest within your property, it’s very important to contact your landlord or estate agent so they can contact the relevant pest professionals. Pest control is seriously important when it comes to home ownership, as they can causes thousands of pounds worth of damage if they are left neglected. Hopefully this identification guide will help you stay on the lookout for any notable pest signs, so you can keep your property safe from harm all year round.

 

🌹 There is little else more quintessentially British than the chocolate box cottage. Bringing up idyllic images of rambling roses framing the doorway, thatched roofs, exposed beams and open fires, an escape to a rural retreat is the aspiration of many.

🍫 We have taken the opportunity during this National Chocolate Week to delve further into this market and the buyers who have made this dream their reality this year.
So far in 2018, there have been 2,100 country cottages sold in rural locations across England and Wales. The South of the country dominates, with 46% of sales but a fifth were in the Midlands and 15% in the East. The remaining 19% were spread across the North, Yorkshire and the Humber and Wales.

🌳 Unsurprisingly, buyers are prepared to pay a premium for a rural idyll. Chocolate box cottages sold this year for an average of £364 per square foot. This is 33% higher than the average price paid for all homes across rural locations.

💷 How much is your house worth? Free, instant, online valuation available here.

 

 The short answer is no. Of course, you are perfectly at liberty to knock down your own garden wall and flatten your front garden if you want to, but you need council permission to drive your car backwards and forwards across their pavement - and that depends on your willingness to pay for a council-approved contractor to insert a dropped kerb and reinforced crossover. 

In any case, many councils are now refusing permission for dropped kerbs in all but the most exceptional cases, on the perfectly understandable grounds that there are already far too many of them. After all, every new dropped kerb effectively eliminates one more parking space on the street itself – thereby making the problem worse for everyone else. 

Besides, the dropped kerb is only part of the problem. You are perfectly at liberty to flatten your own front garden, but you can’t concrete it over or have it paved without planning permission, and this applies to patios and terraces too.

 The reason for this is the growing concern over the progressive loss of green spaces in cities and towns and the increased risk this brings of surface water flooding. Wherever this happens, it drastically reduces the extent to which rainwater can soak away naturally into the ground. Instead, it collects rapidly on the surface, before pouring into already seriously over-stretched sewage systems. 

There is a way round this, of course. You can use special porous bricks, gravel or paving slabs with large gaps to allow the water to soak through.At the end of the day, you can always try to get permission but just bear in mind it may well be refused.

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