Archive for February, 2012

“Dr in the House”

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Whilst we have been fortunate in the Aberdeen area to see the property market holding its own times are tough and selling your home cannot be taken for granted.

Sprucing up your house or home staging as it is known has become increasingly popular over the years and Ann Maurice the American house doctor is famous for her no – nonsense approach to it.  A mixture of flair and practicality has become her trademark. Our very own “Ann Maurice” – Anne-Maryse Churchill offers some practical advice.

Your home is the biggest investment of your life in most cases and it is important to make the very best of it.  I have known many sellers to say that they wish they had spruced up their homes for them to enjoy rather than for the benefit of the purchaser.  Some have even fallen in love again with their homes and simply decided to stay put, renovate or extend.

De-cluttering your home can make you feel good about yourself and your house.  Cast a critical eye over your property and take advice from well trusted friends or relatives about what needs to be done.  Be realistic, if you cannot afford to spend very much, a simple freshen up of paintwork and linen can make a big difference.  It goes without saying that a clean, bright, fresh smelling house is going to be much more attractive to a prospective purchaser.  The old adage of freshly baked bread and “real” coffee does make a difference. Flowers, pretty pictures, stylish colours of throws and cushions are all effective.  Compare that with old newspapers and flowing ashtrays and you get the picture! It is about selling a life style and giving viewers the ability to imagine themselves staying there.  That is why show homes are so effective.

When showing your property get someone to take the children and pets out to enjoy an activity away from the home to allow you to make things “just so” and speak to your viewer properly without distraction.

Lastly if you cannot afford your own home stylist simply search the internet for a wide range of ideas.  Ann Maurice has her own website known as The House Doctor Network which is a great starting point.

Good luck with the sale of your property.  Our own in-house team at James & George Collie Sales Department are always on hand and delighted to help. They can be contacted at 220 Union Street, Aberdeen, AB10 1TL on 01224-572777.

For more information on selling your home, please contact Anne-Maryse Churchill on 01224-581581.

The Home Report – Points to Consider

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The Home Report has been with us in Scotland since 1st December 2008 and it is fair to say the opinion is divided on whether or not it has been a success or, as claimed by its supporters, provides value for money.

However, as the Home Report was introduced by an SNP Administration, it is safe to say that it will remain and be an integral part of the house buying and selling process until at least 2016.

Whether a buyer or seller, it should be borne in mind that the property valuation brought out in the Single Survey Section of the Home Report is little more than a guesstimate by a surveyor of the median price that might be agreed upon between a willing buyer and a willing seller.

The reality is, and always has been, however, that a property is only worth what someone is prepared to pay for it on a given day. 

As ever, market forces, such a supply and demand, will play a significant role in what price a property achieves.   Whether or not there are competing bids will also have a bearing.  In the current market, it is highly unlikely that a property will sell for above valuation, unless there are competing offers.

It is perhaps misguided to regard a single survey valuation in the same way as one would regard the price of an ounce of gold or silver, for example.  It is understandable for a seller to feel that he or she is making a loss by accepting a below valuation offer but, in reality, there will only be a true loss if the price accepted is lower than the price the seller paid for the property in the first place.  

A further pointer to be borne in mind is that whilst most Banks and Building Societies will accept an in date Home Report (ie. a Home Report which is no more than 12 weeks old when considered by the Lender’s underwriter) certain lenders may insist on commissioning their own valuation.   The cost of that valuation will be passed onto the buyer, and may be comparatively expensive as in addition to the amount paid to the surveyor, the “Valuation Fee” may incorporate an administration charge which is retained by the Lender.

As such, it is always prudent for a buyer to liaise with his or her Mortgage Advisor, or the Lender directly, at the start of the buying process to ascertain whether or not the Home Report commissioned by the seller will be acceptable to the intended Lender.

For more information on Home Reports when buying or selling a property, please contact Rory Cradock on 01224-581581.

Powers of Attorney / Guardianships

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Do you have a relative or friend who is incapable or unable to manage their affairs?  A person’s capacity could be impaired gradually as a result of an illness such as dementia or suddenly as a result of an accident.  A doctor will be able to confirm whether or not that person is able to make decisions.  Depending on the nature of the decisions which need to be made, you may not have the automatic right to take actions on behalf that person.  If a person is incapable those close to them may need legal authority to do certain things for that person.  Where a young person is incapable, their parents are able to manage their affairs on their behalf until they reach the age of 16, but following their 16th birthday, legal authority will usually be required.  However, if there is not already a power of attorney in place giving you or someone else the authority to do these things then all is not lost.

It is possible to apply to the Sheriff Court to be appointed as the incapable adult’s Guardian under the terms of the Adults with Incapacity (Scotland) Act 2000.  This would allow you as the guardian to manage on an ongoing basis the financial or welfare affairs, or both of the incapable adult.  Financial guardianship can allow you to take decisions regarding selling the adult’s house, paying bills, signing documents on their behalf, making investment decisions etc.  Welfare guardianship can allow you to take decisions about where the adult should live, what medical or dental treatment they should receive, with whom the adult should socialise, etc.  The application to the court must be supported by two medical reports and a further report on the suitability of the proposed guardian.  Once a guardian has been appointed, the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) in Falkirk, supervises the guardian’s dealings concerning the adult’s finances and property.  If you are applying for a guardianship order relating to the personal welfare of the incapable adult, or relating to both the financial affairs and personal welfare of the incapable adult, then you may be able to apply for civil legal aid to help with the legal costs of making the application.

Where ongoing decisions are not going to be required, then an Intervention Order can allow someone to do a one off specific thing such as sell the house belonging to an incapable adult.  An Intervention Order requires a similar application to the court and medical and other supporting documentation will also be required. 

If full financial guardianship is not required, another option is to apply to the Office of the Public Guardian (Scotland) for authority to access the incapable adult’s funds through the Access to Funds scheme.  This scheme allows money to be transferred from the incapable adult’s bank account into a new account set up for the purposes of the scheme to pay day to day living expenses such as utility bills or care home fees.  It can also be used to request a lump sum to pay off any existing debts or to purchase specific items required by the adult. 

Obviously it is preferable for a Continuing and Welfare Power of Attorney in favour of a trusted relative, friend or solicitor to be set up before it is too late!  A Power of Attorney allows a person to nominate who they would like to be able to take decisions on their behalf in the event of them not being capable of making those decisions.  A Power of Attorney can be thought of like an insurance policy, it is something which you hope you don’t ever need, but it gives you peace of mind to have one in place, just in case.

For information or advice on Powers of Attorney or Guardianship, please contact Vivienne Bruce on 01224-581581