A matter of some utility
Q I have recently inherited a rural property with amazing potential for conversion. How do I go about arranging to have the property connected to mains services and sewerage, and what sort of charge should I expect to pay for this?
A There are two issues to consider before you can connect your property to mains services and sewerage. The first is do you have a legal right to do so? If the access of these services is across someone else’s land you will have to obtain an easement. An easement is a documented legal right to lay services across their property. The landowner has no obligation to grant you an easement, so you will have to negotiate this and will probably have to make a payment. If the landowner is in a position to "hold you to ransom" this payment could be significant!
The next question is where mains services are sited. If your property is rural, the mains services may be hundreds of yards or even miles from your property. If this is the case, the cost of connecting to mains could be tens of thousands of pounds. You will also need to check with the council that the mains has adequate capacity to supply you.
I would recommend that you try to connect to mains water if at all possible because a connection to the mains generally reassures buyers that the quantity and quality of water will be adequate. Private supplies can run dry and may need treatment to bring them up to an acceptable standard to drink. However, there is no necessity to connect to mains sewers. Most rural properties have private drainage to their own septic tanks and this is perfectly adequate. Again, you have to ensure that you have sufficient ground for an outflow or you may need to obtain an easement from a neighbour to have an outflow on their land. -JM
Q I am anxious to take up a new appointment overseas, and therefore need to sell my house quickly. I am torn between putting it on the market at "offers over" to maximise my profit, or at a "fixed price" to get a quick sale. What do you suggest?
A We would strongly recommend that in the first instance you put your house on the market at an offers over figure. When the market is very active, as it has been for some time now, you may find that there are a number of parties who would be keen to purchase your property and the way to ensure that you receive the maximum price for it, in the shortest period of time, is to give everybody a chance to bid at a closing date. It is therefore important that you take your agents advice on the asking price in order to create as much competition as possible. If, after a period of marketing, you find that you are not receiving serious interest in the property, again in consultation with your agent, you could consider amending the asking price to a fixed price for the property, which states the level at which you are prepared to deal. A fixed price can be of interest to parties who have previously bid unsuccessfully on other properties and want some certainty in their purchase and also to those moving from the south who are not entirely familiar or comfortable with the Scottish bidding system. Finally, don’t give too many clues about trying to sell the property in a rush otherwise buyers may detect an opportunity for a bargain purchase. -JM
Q I am considering going in with my sister on the purchase of a house. What sort of special contract would we need to have in order to have such an arrangement?
A Much depends on the actual arrangement which you intend to have with your sister. If you are both putting in exactly the same amount of deposit towards the purchase price and agreeing that you will divide any mortgage payments equally between you, then there may be little need for any special contracts between you, as you are simply joint purchasers similar to that of spouses or partners. Your solicitor will advise you on whether an agreement is required and how the joint title should be drawn up. This will largely depend on whether you wish each other to inherit your respective shares should one of you die or whether you wish to bequeath your share to another party.
However, if one of you is planning to put a larger deposit towards the purchase price or wishing to take on more of the mortgage than the other then it is preferable to have an agreement in place stating exactly what the arrangements will be. Such an agreement is likely to include details of the respective shares you wish to take in the property, the formula for calculating who gets what on sale or death and possibly a provision to allow the other to acquire the property for market value, should the other wish out of the arrangement. -DP
Q What should I ensure is included in documentation for a private house transaction? My son and daughter-in-law are moving into my five-bedroomed family house, while I am swapping into their two-bedroomed cottage down the road.
A I am unclear from your e-mail whether you are each intending to retain ownership of your current properties or whether you are intending to actually transfer the title of your respective houses to each other.
If you intend to retain ownership of your properties then you would be well advised to instruct a solicitor to draw up an agreement stating exactly what the arrangement is between you. In such an agreement you would wish to detail the period of time during which you intend to occupy each other’s houses, who would be responsible for maintenance and repairs, as well as insurance, and any other special conditions similar to that of a lease. You would also have to be mindful of any mortgage over any of the properties, as the Mortgage Lenders are unlikely to sanction such a transfer.
However if you intend to transfer title to each other then such an arrangement would be fairly similar to a purchase and sale on the open market. Where both parties are related by blood or marriage, one to the other, then the same solicitors' firm can normally act for both parties. However, nowadays, it is usual for each party to be at least represented by separate solicitors within the firm who would act as if it was an arm's length transaction. They would have to make it clear however that if a dispute arose during the transaction then one of the parties would have to consult an independent firm of solicitors. Whether any money was passing hands or not and whether any mortgage funds were being obtained a solicitor would have to ensure that a good title was being obtained for each property in accordance with usual house buying procedures. -DP
Search for a job
Search for a car
Search for a house
Weather for Edinburgh
Friday 24 May 2013
Temperature: 2 C to 12 C
Wind Speed: 21 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 5 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West