Buying or selling a home is the biggest transaction most of us will make. So a valuation based on local knowledge of location, what similar houses are selling for, planning applications lurking in the shadows and local government plans for future development is an essential weapon in what can be a real battle to negotiate the right price. But first and foremost a valuation should be based on a detailed examination of the building's age, size and general wear and tear. What about the room layout and number of bedrooms, the heating system, storage, built-in cupboards? Has the owner made structural or other improvements?
You should also ask if you using the right kind of residential property valuation? Don't rely on a mortgage valuation report - this is produced by a surveyor hired by a mortgage lender purely to ascertain if they will get their loan back on the house if it has to be sold suddenly for any reason. There is no full inspection, valuations are often based on drive-by surveys or even done remotely and derived from market trends and other statistics - fine for the lender, not for the borrower.
The safe, thorough and cost-effective route for buyers is through professional surveyors, such as Lamar Chartered Surveyors, specialists in North, East and West London property and a RICS member. Our membership shows we are properly qualified surveyors who will guarantee a high standard of service to all our clients.
Inheritance Tax is payable by different people in different circumstances. Typically, the executor or personal representative pays it using funds from the deceased's estate. The trustees are usually responsible for paying Inheritance Tax on assets in, or transferred into, a trust. Sometimes people who have received gifts, or who inherit from the deceased, have to pay Inheritance Tax - but this is not common.
To find out if Inheritance Tax is due on an estate, you must first value the estate. This means adding up the value of all the assets in the estate - such as a house, possessions, money and investments - and deducting any debts the deceased may have owed, including household bills and funeral expenses.
The buck stops with you, the executor/s (i.e. the person or people chosen by the deceased to carry out their wishes as laid down in their will). Inheritance tax law states you need to submit an accurate market value of a person's property at the date of death for "inheritance tax purposes" - not probate. At Lamar Chartered Surveyors, we would calculate that by adding up all your relative's or friend's assets and then taking away any debts, bills and funeral expenses that have to be paid off first.
While inheritance tax is normally paid on an estate (which comprises the whole of a person's possessions), it can also be paid out on gifts and trusts that have previously been given and set up by the individual.
The bottom line is that any single person's estate worth over £325,000 is taxed at 40% (or 36% on charitable donations) with one big exception - the threshold can jump to a maximum £650,000 if all the assets of the deceased are passed on to their spouse or civil partner either during their lifetime or at time of death. But pick us as your surveyor and we'll liaise with the district valuer and Revenue and Customs to ensure an accurate and efficient completion of what is a tough process. We'll even help you fill in an inheritance tax form if you don't owe any tax - and yes, it's another form!
When you are buying a commercial property, think location, tenure, classification, rather than location, location, location. Businesses change, expand, contract. How long do you plan to trade? Do you aim to grow? What sort of planning classification do you need - is it, say, for a shop, a finance house, a restaurant? They all have different planning rules and a surveyor with intimate local knowledge can advise you on picking the right building for a valuation.
Unlike full residential valuations, normally called for when a property is bought and sold, commercial property valuations are needed for a range of reasons and often act as a security blanket in the face of the unexpected. Land and building values change so it pays to keep up to date.
There is uncertainty in business and it's best to be prepared. Will there be a change in directors? A change in share ownership? If you don't have a valuation to hand, your business could miss out on potential investors. A local surveyor who has valued your property and is quickly available in a crisis can pay dividends.
Do you want to expand and need more funding? Your lender will want security so what better than to slip a valuation report on their desk and get fast access to additional finance. Similarly, if you wish to sell or transfer part ownership, a valuation in hand will keep Inland Revenue on side when working out stamp duty or capital gains tax payable.
Of course, property values can drop as well as rise, particularly if a building deteriorates. So if you rent and want to claim the cost of repairs from your landlord when your lease expires or comes up for renewal, a valuation will show if your claim is higher than any fall in property value. This can benefit either landlord or leaseholder - the landlord need only meet repair claims up to the loss in value. So it's worth getting a valuation before you start costly repairs.
Valuations may seem just an added expense but they provide information essential to the smooth operation of what is generally a company's prime asset - its premises.