MANAGING DIRECTOR OF PROPERTY HUNT
Q. Dear Russell, with the general election having been called, should I wait to buy a property?
A. The election will certainly affect the property market and everybody is currently sitting on the fence awaiting the outcome on 6 May. The impact on the housing market will depend largely on whether we get a hung parliament or an outright majority for one of the parties.
A hung parliament spells trouble for sterling and an even weaker pound will attract overseas investors. Foreign buyers are currently waiting to see whether the pound will fall any further in the wake of the election before jumping into the market – their arrival will increase competition.
With just under a month to go until polling day, those waiting to make their move following the result should make the most of the time they have to research the properties and areas that they are interested in and get their finances arranged. This will put them in a better position once the election is out of the way and the competition starts hotting up.
It would definitely be better to get your mortgage sorted now because mortgage rates are only going to go up. But check how long your mortgage offer will be valid for – many are only valid for six months and if you need to extend it might be difficult to do so at the same favourable rates. But researching the best mortgage deal now will give you the opportunity to get lower monthly instalments and then negotiate on the property price when you find one you like.
You need to be watching the market closely, or have somebody watching it for you if you don’t have the time, to make sure you are first in once the election is over.
Q. Dear Russell, I just agreed to buy a property but I have just found out that I am not allowed a parking permit with the flat. Is this normal?
A. Unfortunately, yes. The local council may have decided to stop issuing new parking permits, so any properties built after a certain date will not be eligible. Kensington & Chelsea is a prime example in London of a council that is no longer offering new permits.
Therefore, if you have agreed to buy a property that has been converted from commercial use, you will not necessarily be given a new permit. Equally, if you have bought a flat that was added on to an existing property after a certain date, then the council will not give you one either. Residents of the other flats in the building will be eligible, however. There is very little you can do about this and contesting the decision is time-consuming and usually unsuccessful.
The alternatives available to you are to get an annual pass at the local car park or to rent a garage.
Russell Hunt is managing director of Property Hunt, a search agent for London and the Home Counties.