Certainly in my job, whilst the basics of buying a house haven't changed, what has is the way we find houses. Not so long ago, many of us used to wait for the ESPC paper to come out on a Thursday (sometimes a Wednesday if you knew where to look) and that was your first insight into new properties for sale. Nowadays, we click a button and it's instantly on phones and tablets and you can get a viewing request within 5 minutes! I even read this week about an estate agent in London whose offices had a touch screen coffee table on which people could browse properties. Maybe something the ESPC showroom will adopt? All very interesting but it doesn't change the fundamental worries people have when they have offered for a property as until they see the good old fashioned "SOLD" on the for sale board, they are not convinced it is theirs!
Buying a house is one of the most stressful things you can do in your lifetime and the confidence and guidance of your solicitor is crucial. Websites like Google make it easy to find an answer to anything and as such, people often think they know more about a process than they actually do. For example, did you know that once you make an offer you can't then view the property again until missives (the contracts) are concluded? In other words, until the legally binding contract is in place? This is a standard rule which most solicitors adhere to and yet often buyers aren't aware of this. Another common misconception is the stamp duty land tax which is payable. The rate is currently 1% for properties with purchase prices of between £125K to £250K and 3% for those between £250k and £500K. It is often thought that this is progressive so that the higher percentage is only paid on the balance above the threshold. This is not the case however, as, with stamp duty, the relevant percentage is charged on the full purchase price (in other words for a property being purchased at £252,000, 3% will be charged on the full £252,000 and not just at 3% on £3,000). This is all set to change next year in Scotland with the introduction of the Land and Buildings Transaction Tax which will see a move away from the slab approach we have at the moment to a more progressive system. We expect the rates to be announced by the Government in a couple of months.
All things considered then, whilst the latest gadget is great, it's not as good as actually speaking to someone and ensuring that you are given bespoke advice which tells you what you need to know and gives you the right answers!