Carrier’s Guide to Buying a Home and Moving

Published:
13:17 12 August 2022



Moving can be a stressful and time-consuming process – and as such there may be a few things you forget to consider along the way.

“For most people, moving is an emotional undertaking rather than a business transaction,” says Stuart Harries of Hertfordshire law firm Debenhams Ottaway. “When people find a home they love, they start imagining their life there, and their main concern is how quickly they can move in, start decorating and have a housewarming party.

“It happens to all of us and it’s totally understandable, but it often means the more mundane legal factors are overlooked – and that’s where transfer agents come in.”

Below, Stuart answers some of the most frequently asked questions about conveyancing and shares his top tips on what to consider when buying and selling your home.

Q: Why do I need a carrier?

A: It’s our job to walk you through the complex process of buying and selling a home and see the big picture. We will consider things like the future use of the property and what will happen if you have to sell a few years down the line. For example, will you be able to add your dream kitchen extension or convert the loft into a home office, and are there any legal restrictions that might prevent you from doing so?

Q: What does a notary do?

A: A transfer agent will review the title deeds of the property to learn more about its history. I often think of the title as a car’s logbook, but it’s not that stereotypical – each will have its own unique aspects. We will make sure that all the land the buyer expects to own is included and we will ask the seller what else they can tell us about the property.

Working with local authorities and environmental agencies is an important part of our job. If it is a listed property or is in a conservation area, which many homes in St Albans and Hertfordshire are, building restrictions may prevent you from making certain changes. We’ll find out what you can and can’t do, to avoid disappointment later.

We will also consult with mortgage lenders and review individual customer circumstances to see what stamp duty they will be required to pay.


A transfer agent can give you a better idea of ​​the potential costs of a move and whether you qualify for tax breaks.
– Credit: Debenhams Ottaway

Q: What is relief for multiple dwellings?

A: Buyers looking for properties with separate living accommodation, such as a granny annex, will be pleased to know that substantial savings can be made on property tax stamp duty – it’s called relief for multiple dwelling occupancy. However, strict rules apply – the house must have separate living accommodation established, for example, having its own kitchen, bathroom and separate access.

Q: Will I have to pay more property tax on stamp duty if I buy a second property?

A: If you are buying a second property, you will most likely have to pay the higher rate. If you want to help your children get on the property ladder, it’s worth speaking with a land transfer agent first to find out what the long-term capital gains tax implications might be.

Q: When should I instruct a carrier?

A: As soon as possible! Talking to a transfer agent early on can give you a better idea of ​​potential costs. You can then determine how this will fit into your budget.

Remember that there will be background checks on your finances, so it’s worth planning ahead as it can save you valuable time during the process.

Q: Do I need to update my will when buying a home?

A: Absolutely. It’s likely to be the most expensive purchase you’ll ever make, so it’s important to future-proof your investment. Although it can be hard to think about, setting out what you would like to happen to your property in a will can bring peace of mind. Debenhams Ottaway has specialists who can help you write or review your will.

Equity release is becoming increasingly popular as people can see the potential benefits of releasing their home’s value over their lifetime. There is enormous value attached to a property, which is usually passed on to the owner’s estate upon death. Equity release, on the other hand, allows you to enjoy the money yourself or watch your family benefit – for example, it could be used to help pay for school fees.

Q: How do I choose a carrier?

A: Word of mouth is the best way to choose a transfer agent – ​​that’s how we get most of our referrals. Ask friends and neighbors who have recently moved and check to see if the real estate agent you are using has financial ties to a lawyer. If they don’t, that’s usually a good sign.


Stuart Harries at Hertfordshire law firm, Debenhams Ottaway

Stuart Harries of Hertfordshire law firm Debenhams Ottaway has 20 years’ experience in residential property
– Credit: Debenhams Ottaway

It should be kept in mind that the lowest cost rarely equates to the best value or the most efficient and reliable service. At Debenhams Ottaway, we may not offer the cheapest service, but we pride ourselves on our customer-focused, hands-on approach.

Our team of qualified legal advisers will keep you regularly informed of the progress of the sale, will advise you at every stage and will always be available to answer all your questions.

Our goal is to make the home buying process as easy and stress-free as possible so you can look forward to the next chapter in your life.

To find out more, call Stuart Harries on 01727 738221 or email [email protected] You can also visit debenhamsottaway.co.uk for more information.

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