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Moving home can be an exciting, yet daunting, process, and with the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) system recently seeing major changes, it’s important that movers – whether buying, selling or both  - are aware of the possible impact this could have when moving home.

With this in mind, here at Owl Search have taken a closer look at the latest SDLT thresholds and rates.

What is stamp duty?

Stamp Duty Land Tax is a government tax applied on land property transactions over a certain price, charged in bands. The majority of people purchasing a property will be required to pay it, with the tax charged at different rates depending on whether the property is residential, non-residential, freehold or leasehold.

It’s important to note that tax relief may be available for certain types of transaction – whether you’re buying outright or with a mortgage.

Stamp duty for first-time buyers

As of November 2017, stamp duty was abolished for first-time buyers purchasing a home for up to £300,000, with no stamp duty required on the first £300,000 for properties up to £500,000.

First-time buyers purchasing homes for more than £500,000, however, will have to pay the standard rates of stamp duty. The changes have led to significant cuts in stamp duty for the vast majority of first-time buyers – the government says that 80% of first-time buyers will now pay no stamp duty, while 95% of first-time purchasers are expected to benefit overall. A total of £5,000 could be saved by first-time buyers on their stamp duty bills.

The table below demonstrates the new stamp duty bands for first-time buyers:

Property price

Old stamp duty cost

New stamp duty cost

£200,000

£1,500

£0

£300,000

£5,000

£0

£400,000

£10,000

£5,000

£500,000

£15,000

£10,000

 

SDLT for home movers

Home movers are liable to pay stamp duty when the sale of the property goes through, with up to 30 days to pay. As a home mover, you won’t pay any stamp duty on the first £125,000 of a property purchase, while there is a stamp duty rate of 2% on homes worth between £125,0001 and £250,000.

For homes worth between £250,001 and £925,000, meanwhile, there is a 5% stamp duty charge. For property worth between £925,001 and £1.5 million, it’s 10%. Anything above £1.5 million is taxed at 12%.

Moreover, an extra 3% rate of SDLT on purchases of additional properties – such as buy-to-let and second homes – was introduced in April 2016, meaning that purchasers will pay on top of current rates for each band.

The table below shows the percentage of stamp duty that purchasers will be charged per threshold:

Purchase price

Standard rate

Buy-to-let/second home rate

Up to £125,000

0%

3%

£125,001 - £250,000

2%

5%

£250,001 - £925,000

5%

8%

£925,001 - £1.5m

10%

13%

Over £1.5m

12%

15%

 

For a leasehold property, buyers will pay SDLT on the purchase price of the ‘lease premium’ from the rates above. If the total rent over the ‘net present’ value is more than £125,000, you also pay stamp duty of 1% on the portion over £125,000 – this is unless you buy an existing assigned lease.

As stamp duty is an inevitable cost you will face when moving home, knowing the basics as well as the new rates and thresholds is crucial.

Owl Search are here to help you with stamp duty and much, much more. If you are interested in selling and or buying a home in Hertfordshire, Borehamwood, North West London, Central London or any of the surrounding areas, please get in contact with us on 020 3432 3888.

 

What’s more, we offer a free instant online valuation for sellers who would like an estimate of their property’s current worth. 

There’s no doubt that when you come to sell your home for the first time, you will have plenty of questions. While first-time buyers have a wealth of information to turn to, it can be difficult for first-time property sellers to find the advice they need.

Given the importance of that first big property sale, we’ve put together some top tips for people selling their home in North West London, Hertfordshire and the surrounding locations for the first time.

Choose the right estate agent

This is arguably one of the most important things to get right. Not only is selecting a skilled agent crucial but having a good relationship with them throughout the sales process is also key. The agent you instruct should have expert local knowledge, an excellent understanding of the property market and be a source of valuable advice.

It’s their job to make the process as smooth and hassle-free as possible, so sellers should make sure they do their homework before choosing a trustworthy and responsive agent. Reading online reviews and checking social media pages are just two of the ways to gain some insight before instructing the right agent for your specific needs.

 

Set the right asking price

Your home will get the most exposure immediately after it’s listed, so it’s advisable to set a realistic asking price from the outset. It can be quite tricky to determine, but your agent will advise you on the property’s value, using their knowledge of the local market and other variables to set a fair and reasonable asking price.

Beware, though – set the price too high and you may put potential buyers off. Set the price too low, and risk selling yourself (or rather, your home) short.

 

Depersonalise and declutter

It’s no surprise that prospective buyers can be put off by excessive pictures, knick-knacks, clutter and personal items on display – after all, they will want to visualise themselves living there.

Of course, this is a difficult balance to strike. You want your home to be enticing and full of character without potential buyers feeling like they are intruding.

As well as being a deterrent on viewing day, clutter in the home can make rooms feel smaller and less organised. If possible, try and show buyers your home life at its best, without all the clutter.

 

Target your target demographic effectively

Knowing your target market – as well as the right time to list your property – can help to make all the difference.

Your demographic as a first-time seller is likely to be a first-time buyer. This group of buyers – typically aged in their 20s and 30s – are heavily reliant on technology, looking for their first home on their digital devices. This means you will need to ensure that your property has a significant online presence and be internet-savvy when it comes to selling.

Your online advertisement will need to be bright and engaging, able to stand out from the crowd and pique the interest of buyers when they first lay eyes on it. Make sure the agent you choose lists on the major property portals such as Rightmove and Zoopla – a go-to for many first-time buyers when it comes to browsing for a property.

If you take these top tips into account, you can have a smoother ride through the selling process and increase your chances of securing an eager buyer with a great offer.

To find out more about how Owl Search can help to get your home sold in Hertfordshire, Borehamwood, North West London and the surrounding areas, please get in contact with us on 020 3432 3888.

 

 

We also offer free online valuations for sellers who would like an estimate of their property’s current worth. 

The process of buying a home is a stressful one and the moving process can be just as daunting. Getting preparations in order, however, will help you to keep a clear head and lighten the load when moving day comes around.

Here at Owl Search, to help you prepare accordingly, we’ve put together five fundamental things you can do to make the moving process run more smoothly…

Declutter

Taking stock of your belongings and deciding what you no longer want or need is a good place to start. Not only will it help when it comes to packing, it will also give you a chance to free up space in your new home.

If you come across something you haven’t worn or used in over three months – seasonal items aside – then get shot of it. It’s better to be assertive from the beginning, your future self will thank you for it.

Of course, you don’t want everything to go to waste. Selling any unwanted goods on eBay will help to raise extra funds for your new home. Alternatively, Gone for Good, websites like freecycle and local charity shops provide useful solutions for old clothes and electronics.

Get organised

In most cases, the moving process can take a while. It’s best to get into gear early and give yourself time to prepare. Using a checklist for the duration of the move will help you to keep on top of important tasks and itemise everything you need. Dividing your tasks into weeks and giving yourself a deadline every seven days is a practical way of getting the job done. Nothing feels more satisfying than ticking a completed task off a list.

Pack efficiently

Packing typically requires the most time and effort and should commence at least a few weeks prior to the move. For this, you will need tools and materials such as packing tape, bubble wrap, marker pens, zip tie bags, labels and various sized boxes.

It’s advisable to put some time aside to focus on packing. This could mean taking a bit of time off work, finding a babysitter for your children, or simply clearing your schedule for the weekend. Doing so will enable you to pack coherently and consistently for several hours (how fun!) and therefore get a lot more done, as opposed to packing for short bursts of time.

Having an ‘essentials’ box for important documents such as birth certificates, passports, and other important information will help you to locate them easily and protect them from being stuffed in a box full of wires or clothes.

Find the right removal company

Unless you have generous friends and family who are prepared to help you transfer all of your possessions, it’s likely you’ll need to find a dependable removal company. You want to be sure that your beloved items are moved in a professional and safe manner, so when comparing quotes, do so based on the ratings, service and feedback of each company rather than just the price. If possible, try to find a firm local to your new home as they will already know the ins and outs of parking access.

After your move

Once moving day is over and you’re starting to settle in to your new home, you will need to account for each item on your inventory and check for any missing or damaged items. It’s also advisable to check that all of your keys for your new property work and everything is in order. Be sure to notify important contacts of your new address to avoid any confusion.

To ensure that all bills or other mail you’ve not changed your address on will still reach you, consider Royal Mail’s Postal Redirection service. You can get redirected post for three, six or 12 months.

All in all, while moving can be stressful, particularly if you’re selling a home at the same time, some preparation and thought can go a long way to make the process smoother.

Covering areas such as Borehamwood, Stanmore, Edgware, Harrow and Wembley, here at Owl Search, we can help with every step of the property buying and selling process. For more information, please contact us on 020 3432 3888.

 

We also provide free and instant valuations to give you an idea of how much your home could be worth on the current market. 

It’s important, when selling your home, to maximise its value wherever you can. One sure-fire way of making that happen is to make full use of any garage space you have.

Garage space, especially in areas where available parking is at a premium, can become a major selling point and hugely increase the appeal of your home to would-be buyers.

It’s certainly a valuable asset and something you should be happy to pitch to prospective purchasers as part of your sales strategy.

It’s also very versatile. It doesn’t merely need to be a place to park a car; it could also be used for storage or transformed into a home gym, home office or creative space.

If you have a garage, here’s why it could increase the value of your home. If you don’t have one, you may even consider investing in this feature to improve your chances of selling and the asking price you can set.

A highly versatile asset

As mentioned above, a garage doesn’t need to have one single purpose. If you are already blessed with parking space outside your home in the form of a driveway or a parking permit, you may decide on other uses for your garage.

Luckily, it’s a space that lends itself well to a number of different functions. If adding value to your home is your main consideration, turning your garage into additional living space is the best way forward. Not only will this enable you to set a higher asking price, it’s also something that is fairly easy and cheap to achieve.

While it’s unlikely to cost you much time, money or effort to create an extra bedroom, you need to ensure you don’t fall foul of any planning or building regulations. The likelihood of you needing planning permission is low, but it’s a wise move to check with the relevant authorities first. Make sure you seek expert advice before carrying out any building work and adhere to the rules at all times.

There are other ways of making use of spare garage space, though. It’s an ideal venue for a home gym (likely to have considerable appeal to young professional buyers) and could also be easily converted into a home office, a study or a workshop space.

If you possess a garage that’s to the side of your house, or backs immediately on to it, turning it into additional kitchen or living space may be another alternative option.

A great way to offer parking space

For many buyers, guaranteed parking space is a top priority – a must-have even. It’s even more important for those looking to buy in busy residential areas or densely populated ones, for example major London commuter hubs such as Borehamwood, Bushey and Watford, or lively suburbs of the capital such as Harrow, Wembley and Stanmore. 

A driveway isn’t always possible, particularly in locations with closely packed streets where front garden space is limited and roads tend to be narrow. The closer to London an area is, the more unlikely it is to have a wide number of available parking spaces – so if your home can offer garage space its attractiveness to buyers is bound to go up.

Crowded roads, parking restrictions, heavy parking fines and parking problems are all common issues in heavily residential areas, which makes garage parking space all the more appealing. Make use of any parking space you have – whether it be a driveway, garage space or both – and inform buyers about it when they come to view your home.

An added bonus is the extra value provided by a garage should your buyer be looking to sell a few years down the line. The beautiful thing about a garage is that demand for parking space is highly unlikely to fall in the coming years, which means its value as an asset is also likely to remain high.

A good way of adding value

Adding extra space to a home is a great way of increasing its value, whether that be an extension, a loft conversion or a repurposed garage. If you don’t fancy turning your garage into an additional bedroom, a second kitchen, a home gym or a playroom, you could take the simpler route of transforming it into a home office or workshop space.

This won’t cost much time or money to achieve and can help to attract buyers who run their own businesses or work from home and seek a quiet, secluded place to operate from where distractions will be minimal.

Whatever you decide to do with your garage space, at the very least do something with it. It’s too valuable an asset to be neglected completely. Analyse the upsides and downsides to each approach – costs, disruption levels, potential to add value, possible need for planning permission – and work out whether you want to keep your garage as it is or convert it into something totally different.

On its own, a safe space to park a car will have considerable appeal (especially to London-based buyers), so don’t underestimate your garage’s importance when it comes to selling.

To find out more about how Owl Search can help to get your home sold, please contact us on 020 3432 3888. 

We cover a number of areas in North West London and Hertfordshire, using our extensive experience and knowledge to help you sell.

 

We also provide free and instant online valuations to give you an idea of how much your home could be worth. 

With Owl Search recently expanding its operations to Borehamwood, here we take a quick look at the area and explain why it is such a good location to sell a home.

From strong transport links and easy access to stunning countryside, to an overload of restaurants, pubs, cafes and shops, there are plenty of ways in which this Hertfordshire commuter town is an appealing choice for buyers.

The local property market

Borehamwood is a magnet for all types of buyers, but particularly first-time buyers and families with young children who are looking for more property for their money.

Consequently, demand for homes in Borehamwood is consistently high, with London workers keen for a quick commute and those employed at Elstree Studios or in nearby Barnet and Watford eager to live locally.

This high demand and enduring popularity is reflected in an average property price of over £400,000 (Rightmove), up by 21% since 2015.

Flats, with an average price of around £320,000, are the most popular (and affordable) abode, while terraced properties generally sell for an average price of approximately £430,000, and semi-detached properties fetch around the £575,000 mark.

Borehamwood has a good mixture of properties on offer – from smart new-builds and stylish end of terrace homes, to attractive bungalows and well-presented flats. There should be something to fit every taste, from retirees and second-steppers to buy-to-let investors and first-time buyers.

When it comes to selling your home, there’s plenty of things that will impress prospective buyers – the fast transport links to London, the strong local economy, good local amenities and high-performing local schools.

The area

A popular commuter hub nestled between Watford and Barnet on the outskirts of North London, Borehamwood has a population of around 31,000 and is a short hop from The Chilterns (an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty).

The town is best known for being the home of Elstree Studios, an illustrious venue that plays host to the filming of various top British TV shows including Big Brother, Strictly Come Dancing, The Chase, EastEnders and Holby City. It is also regarded as the birthplace of Star Wars, while a huge number of feature films – including Indiana Jones, Superman, Paddington Bear, The Shining, The World’s End and The King’s Speech, were all produced at the legendary studios.

While Elstree Studios undoubtedly puts Borehamwood on the map, it is far from the only thing the town has going for it. Boreham Wood F.C. currently play in the National League, while the town is filled with a number of parks and green spaces that are ideal for running, cycling, dog-walking and a wide range of other leisure activities.

Keen shoppers, meanwhile, are well catered for with a growing Retail Park, a range of supermarkets, department stores and a selection of independent local businesses and outlets.

When it comes to restaurants and eateries, there are too many to mention – from Thai to breakfast bars, quirky cafes to pizza joints, and Chinese to Indian – so it’s generally best for residents to discover as they go, finding the restaurant that suits their needs best. There is certainly more than enough choice to go around.

The transport links

One of Borehamwood’s biggest strengths – and you’d expect nothing less of a key part of London’s commuter belt – is its fast, wide-ranging and reliable transport links.

London St Pancras is just under 25 minutes away, while London Blackfriars can be reached in only 32 minutes from Elstree & Borehamwood station (TfL zone 6).

The area is well-served by a number of London bus routes - bus services also run to nearby locations such as Watford, Barnet, Edgware, Hatfield and Stanmore.

What’s more, the town is located just to the east of the A1, while the M25 is also close by – making Borehamwood very accessible by road.

London Luton Airport is about a 40 minute drive away, and London Heathrow Airport can be reached in around 44 minutes. 

The future

There is no suggestion that demand for homes here will fall anytime soon, which will help to keep average house prices growing. With Elstree Studios in its locker, Borehamwood has a pull that many other commuter towns could only dream of.

Additionally, the ripple effect – where Londoners move out of the capital to find cheaper homes elsewhere – is only expected to grow in the coming years, also helping to keep both demand and price growth in Borehamwood steady.

Sellers, particularly in locations which have lots of ready-made plus points, will therefore remain in a strong negotiating position when it comes to discussing offers.

At Owl Search, we offer property lettings, property sales and property management across North West London and now Hertfordshire.

To find out more about we can help you to sell your home in Borehamwood, please contact us on 020 3432 3888.

 

We also provide free and instant valuations to give you an idea of how much your home could be worth.  

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