Our eminent residential property expert, Ross Ward, answers your questions about moving home. If you are buying or selling and you’d like his advice, email your query to email@example.com
I have pulled out of a house purchase because problems were revealed in the survey. My solicitor has already carried out searches – can I sell them to another buyer?
Search results can be transferred, although they are only valid for three to six months.
Your solicitor will notify the vendor’s solicitor that searches are available and if the property is resold in time, it is likely you will be able to recover the whole, or a large part, of the money spent.
Subsequent buyers are not obliged to purchase your searches, but are likely to do so – it will not save much in terms of cost, but is likely to save time.
Whilst searches only have a shelf life of three to six months, they can be used for longer if supported by an indemnity insurance policy. This will effectively protect you for up to 12 months against something that would have come up on a new search.
I am buying a new property from a local builder. How can I be sure the site has planning permission?
When a new house is erected, it normally requires planning permission and building regulation approval. Your solicitor will receive copies of both documents before contracts are exchanged. This gives him a chance to check if there are any conditions imposed and if so, to include a clause in the contract stipulating the builder complies with any prerequisites.
Your solicitor is also likely to require a Building Regulation Completion Certificate, which is issued by the local council to confirm the work meets the approval that was granted. In addition, you will need to check there is a NHBC guarantee or certificate provided by the builder’s architect, confirming the house is built to a satisfactory standard and complies with all local authority permissions.
Can you explain the difference between fixtures and fittings?
Fixtures are any items that are attached to, or form part of, the property and are included in the sale. For example, the central heating system or bathroom suite would normally be regarded as a fixture and should be left by the vendor on completion.
Fittings are items that do not form part of the house and are not included, unless the vendor agrees or a separate price is negotiated, i.e. carpets, curtains, freestanding furniture and light fittings. There are one or two grey areas, however, such as satellite dishes, curtain rails and other items that are actually fixed to the property, but are often removed.
To avoid any confusion, a schedule of fixtures and fittings is normally provided for the buyers before exchange of contracts and if an additional price has been agreed for certain items, this should be referred to in the contract. There may also be reference to compensation, paid to the buyer, if the vendor causes damage when removing fixtures or fittings.
I receive more telephone calls about this issue than any other after completion. Frequently, the cost of trying to resolve a dispute is more than the value of the items in question, but buyers feel aggrieved when vendors take out a fitting they assumed would be included. If you are not given a list of fixtures and fittings prior to exchange of contracts, I would advise you request one to avoid future problems.