Friday, January 25, 2008

Managing your affairs

There is something that I'd like to share with every reader of this blog article whether they are relatively young or very old:

Make a will and 100% make sure you have created a lasting power of attorney (LPA).

If you own a property and have even the smallest amount of savings you owe it to your nearest and dearest to organise things so that there is as little stress as possible. If you have a partner then each appointing the other is a good idea or your children may be the right people, or a brother or sister but you never know when you will be struck down in such a way that you are not capable of running your financial affairs and personal care. The national statistics for road accidents, heart attacks, strokes etc should serve as a pointer as to why this action is necessary.

You may have guessed that I'm speaking from personal experience and indeed I am. My 83 year old mother finally ended up in hospital after worrying me for some time. Her condition was brought on by a series of mini-strokes and these have left her with vascular dementia which is an incurable problem that will only get worse over time. We, in conjunction with our solicitor, have been battling with the newly formed 'Office of the Public Guardian' (which replaced the Court of Protection on 1st October last year) to get access to funds in order to pay for her care in a home specifically for her condition. The order for this has only just arrived to allow an 'interim' payment and the actual court date will not be until mid-February 2008.

It is, in my opinion, an unfortunate fact that if you have savings, have bought your own home, have a personal pension over and above the state old-age pension then you will have to pay for your care until your money and assets have dwindled to £21,500. If you work on the basis of very nearly £600 per week then you will realise just how quickly everything you ever worked for will evaporate. On the other hand if you don't own a bean or live in Scotland then don't worry, you certainly won't end up with less than you have now and you will still get the care. A somewhat concealed fact is that it doesn't stop at £21,500. After this point is reached they continue to take about £5 per £100 worth of care costs until you are down to £13,500.

If you are reading this then you are obviously used to dealing with the web so follow this link and have a read.

You may want to speak to your solicitor or just download the forms but I thoroughly recommend you take some action. Every one of us will believe it is too soon, we're not old enough and any number of other excuses not to take action. Don't kid yourself!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

HIP's with the Tories

Over the course of 2007 from June onwards HIPs (Home Information Packs) have been introduced to the UK property market and now every property marketed must have one.

I have always been a supporter of HIPs (unlike a lot of estate agents) but in their original ‘pure’ form with compulsory Home Condition Reports as well as the domestic energy assessment and legal documentation. The purpose of this Blog entry is not to argue the rights and wrongs but to draw the public’s attention to the Tories’ ‘Home Buying Review’. They are anti-HIP but are looking at ways of improving the current process.

This is an opportunity for everyone to have their personal say about the home buying and selling process. The review is being conducted by Grant Shapps, Kirstie Allsopp (from Channel 4’s ‘Location, Location, Location’) and Owen Inskip (a chartered surveyor and former estate agent)

Among the areas where views are specifically sought are:

· Professionalism of estate agents: should there be a requirement for training, qualifications and regulation?
· Professionalism and attitude of solicitors: In particular the way they communicate.
· Can and should the makingand accepting of an offer be made legally binding?
· Is the ‘buyer beware’ system of buying appropriate to buying homes?
· E-conveyancing.
· De-mystifying the home buying and selling process for consumers.
· Sellers solicitors to be instructed and ready to issue a contract before the sale is agreed and when the property is marketed.
· Buyers to ensure they have a mortgage agreed in principle before they begin looking.

The consultation is online at and I urge everyone who has had a moan about HIPs to visit and make their views known.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

2008...What lies ahead?

I would hate to appear like HBOS, Nationwide and all the others making predictions about the house sales market in that they don’t agree and have conflicting views, but I do have my own opinion!

I don’t believe we’re looking at a ‘crash’ in the same way that we had in the late 1980’s and early ‘90’s. I do believe that we will find it tougher than it has been and necessary to use every marketing tool available. Agents who have been used to just taking orders will need to relearn how to work at servicing those buyers that are out there to make sure they view and buy through them. Sellers will need to be kept closely in touch with how the market is reacting to their home and advised about how it is faring.

Initial marketing price will be important and will need regular review as things develop. At David Clark and Company most of us have been through poor markets before and you can rely on our best advice.

Happy New Year!