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How To Sell Your Property ( UK )

There are five distinct phases to selling your property.

1. Preparation

During the preparation period you should be doing three things:

a) Decide how you are going to sell. This can be through an estate agent, selling privately or going to auction. When you have worked this out, you can then

b) work out how much it is going to cost you. This should include items such as relocation costs, purchase costs associated with a new property, solicitors’ and agents’ fees, tax (including VAT), mortgage penalties and even the cost of hiring a removals van.

c) Prepare the property for viewing and, hopefully, a quick sale.

2. Valuation and marketing

Your property should be prepared to pass the stiffest of inspections, both inside and out. Make sure that the person who values your home possesses the appropriate professional qualifications from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors or the National Association of Estate Agents. A valuer, usually employed by your estate agent, will visit the property and put a price on it. The price needs to be set low enough for you to be able to sell it within the timeframe you require and also so that you can attract enough potential buyers to view the property. But it also needs to be set sufficiently high that you don’t lose out on any money that you could have made from the sale.
The agent will then advertise your property in the local press, in his window or on the internet

3. Negotiation

When someone is interested in buying your property, they may make an offer below the asking price. It is up to you to decide how much or how little you are prepared to accept. If your property has been on the market for months with very few viewers, you may be happy to accept less than the valuation price just to be rid of it and move on. However, if several offers come in during the first two weeks of the sale period, you would be well advised to stick to the asking price. Whether you accept an offer or not depends on your situation and circumstances.

4. Conveyancing

Once you have agreed the sale with a buyer, your solicitor will take over. Although the conveyancing process (moving title of the property from your name to the buyer’s) takes the same length of time for buyers and sellers, there is much more onus on the buyer’s solicitor in terms of the amount of work required so your legal bill on a property sale should be lower than for a property purchase. The normal total cost of disbursements for a seller usually amounts to an £8 land registry charge, plus legal fees. Though not usually charged as a percentage of the property value, most solicitors and conveyancers will link their fees to the price band in which your property falls. Expect to pay anything from £250 to £500 for solicitors fees on the sale.

5. Completion

This is the last stage of the process. It is the precise moment at which the sale is complete and you no longer own the property.

PREPARATION

When to sell

The best time to sell is when there are many buyers in the market and prices are increasing, and when interest rates remain low.

Buying and selling property is also seasonal, with more sales being made between March and July each year. The year-end or Christmas period is slow, but a pick-up is usually achieved in the new year.

When not to sell

The worst time to sell is when there are fewest buyers in the market. If interest rates are temporarily raised to calm the market, you may find that buyers are in short supply. If both your neighbours put identical houses up for sale at the same time, it may be a bad idea for you to do the same. Try to follow the markets and read the signs.
If your property is in a sought-after location, you should have no problem selling at a reasonable asking price regardless of the time of year or market conditions.

Choosing An Estate Agent

An estate agent can take care of all aspects of the property sale for you. A good estate agent will:

Arrange a property valuation

Advertise the property for sale – both online and in traditional media

Court potential buyers

Arrange and conduct property viewings

Negotiate with potential buyers on your behalf

Help to maximise the property sale price

An estate agent will ensure you avoid mistakes when selling your home, which could otherwise be costly. The agent will charge a commission of up to four per cent of the sale price, although this is normally around two per cent. The actual amount is likely to be at the top end of this scale if you instruct them as a joint or multiple agent, but at the lower end if you decide they should be the sole agent in charge of the sale. No fees are payable up front and you should accept only a no sale, no fee agreement with your chosen agent.

Try several agents and get recommendations from people living around you. Find out about estate agency bodies and only choose one which is professionally accredited.

An estate agent acting as a sole agency is acting alone in the sale of your property. You are contractually bound not to allow other agents to try and sell your property during the term of the agreement and will be liable for a commission payment to the sole agent should you do so and successfully sell the property.

Two agencies working together to try and sell your home is known as joint sole agency. The main advantage is that there will be more than one outlet or distribution channel for your property. You may pay slightly more in total commission than you would if there were just a single sole agent, as both businesses will receive a share of the commission when the property is sold.

Multiple agency is where you instruct a number of agencies working in competition with each other. Each is acting fully autonomously and the person or business that sells your property gets to keep the commission. It can be the case that the agent will spend less on marketing your property or act less aggressively trying to sell your property under these terms. This is because they are aware that there is a possibility that they will receive zero commission regardless of how much effort they put in, and so may focus their efforts on properties for which they are the sole agents.
Auction

If you need a quick and virtually guaranteed sale, you could auction your property. As long as the property is sold, you can guarantee that the transaction will be complete within 28 days of the auction date which offers a certainty of timescales not enjoyed by either of the other two methods.
Auctions are becoming increasingly popular with buyers but there is no guarantee that the seller will achieve the asking price of the property. Auctions are not suitable for everyone, as they attract a certain breed of buyer that may not be interested in every type of property. However, if you set the reserve price low enough, then you can virtually guarantee a sale, even if the price may not be what you are looking for.
Selling your property at auction generally costs around two and a half percent of the price attained. There may well be additional charges involved for marketing your property, adding it to the catalogue or contributing to the hire of the auction room. These charges are not always made separately – sometimes they are incorporated into the commission payment – but you will probably have to pay for them separately if your property is not sold.

Private sale

You could decide to do all the agent’s work yourself by selling privately, and, if you manage to get a few lucky breaks along the way (such as already knowing someone who might be interested in buying your property), it is possible to spend no money at all on the actual sale of your house.

For those people whose overriding goal is to maximise the proportion of the sale revenue that ends up in their own bank account, selling privately is certainly the best option. You can directly constrain your marketing expenditure and not a single penny of the sale price will be lost in commission payments.

The main downside of a private sale is that sometimes it can take longer to sell your home, as your property does not enjoy the level of exposure that it would have if it were being marketed by a professional estate agent. But if time is not crucial, then saving thousands of pounds can be a good reason to go it alone.

Prepare for Viewing

Buyers can be put off before they’re through the front door. Make sure the outside of your property looks its best, with the rubbish in a bin, and communal hallways clear of junk. Make sure any lawn, garden or window box is a selling point. Clean, repair and repaint exterior surfaces. This should be done before you contact an agent.
Caravans, white vans and old vehicles on and around your property deter more buyers than anything else. Get rid of them on viewing days.

Make sure that you clear away any junk or untidy looking areas in your property before potential purchases arrive on the doorstep. Aim to have your property in pristine, showhome condition at all times. This means sparkling surfaces in bathrooms and kitchen, fresh made beds, plumped cushions on sofas and chairs, polished furniture and clean floors throughout.

Disguise pet smells and make sure that fresh flowers are displayed. Make your home as warm and welcoming as possible to potential buyers.

The Future

A new way of selling your home will be introduced in June 2007. You will have to prepare a Home Information Pack (HIP) which will be made available to purchasers and will cost the seller around £1,000 to prepare.

The Home Information Pack is like a traditional survey and will include local authority searches and the property’s title deeds as well as energy performance information and certificate. Buyers and sellers will be given A-G ratings on their properties, as well as practical measures to cut fuel bills and carbon emissions. This must be introduced in response to new European laws.

The Government says that the home condition report – the most expensive part of the pack – will no longer be mandatory. Sellers will only be obliged to provide a half-HIP at an estimated cost of £150 to £200.

HIPs are supposed to speed up the house buying process, ensure that fewer deals fall through, help first-time buyers and reduce the scope for gazumping.

Selling your home can be a stressful and expensive experience. To make it easier on yourself you should:

a) choose a reputable estate agent

b) prepare your home for sale

c) build in plenty of time – the process can take months

d) find out what it is going to cost and make sure you can afford it.

This is meant as a general guide and should not be seen as legal advice.

Trademark Vs Copyright – What’s the Difference? And When I Decide Which I Need, Do I Need a Lawyer?

Over the years many clients have asked me the same question. I have a new business, which I plan to build and grow so I want to protect my brand identity, the goodwill associated with that. So, do I get a copyright or a trademark on my name, or slogan or logo? What does each protect? What are the differences between trademark and copyright?

The answer to this question is not always an easy one, however, as we delve into the labyrinth of intellectual property there are some very important differences and some clear guidelines which help us select the appropriate vehicle for you.

Copyrights are typically related to original works of authorship, like a book or poem or screenplay, photographs, films or music (lyrics or music), while a trademark relates to brand names, slogans and logos.

Once the appropriate vehicle has been selected the most important thing to consider is the use of the proposed trademark. Users of a trademark have rights whether a trademark is registered or not. Trademark registration will give you an exclusive right to use the trademark nationwide, certain overseas rights, and a legal presumption of ownership.

However, registration of your trademark is only the start of defending your company name and goodwill. For your rights to a trademark to continue, you have to use it, protect it against infringers, and renew it. The history of trademark law is fraught with marks that lost their protection because they failed to maintain them. However, if properly maintained trademark protection can be perpetual.

An additional concern in the realm of trademark in the modern age is keyword advertising. Companies buy ads that appear in search engines, when a consumer searches for a competitors’ trademark. For example, a consumer might search for Nike and an ad for Adidas would appear, because Adidas had purchased the right to place an ad there. There continues to be a considerable amount of litigation on this subject with differing results throughout the many federal court districts.

Copyright protection affords the creators of original works protection against unauthorized use of their work. This also provides a vehicle for licensing or assignment or sale of rights to an original work. For the most part, copyright protection provides protection during the life or lives of the author(s) and an additional 70 years after the death of the final author. Publication of the work is not required to display the copyright “©” symbol, however, federal registration does afford the owner remedies not available without registration.

As you can see, with regard to the question of copyright vs. trademark there are specific reasons to select one of these over the other in an effort to protect your rights.

Ok, now you’ve decided whether I need to register a trademark or a copyright; you may be asking yourself, do I need a trademark attorney or copyright attorney to register my trademark or copyright or can I deal directly with the trademark or copyright office?

The answer, as with any such question is, always, it depends. You are not required to have a trademark attorney or copyright attorney; however, this is a question, which in reality asks, what degree of risk am I comfortable with. A medical doctor is not required to perform surgery on you; however, I would not recommend having surgery without one. Similarly, I would not recommend attempting to register a trademark or copyright without an experienced intellectual property attorney.

The process of obtaining a trademark or copyright is not simply filing some paperwork (however, this is certainly part of the application process). The trademark and copyright application process begins with an extensive search to uncover if your proposed name, logo, slogan or other proposed intellectual property is currently registered or unregistered but in use in your same industry.

Also there is the consideration that if during that name or logo search you uncover a similar trademark. Now what? Do you have to change your trademark? Can you still have your proposed trademark registered? The answer is (always): it depends. It depends on many factors.

Therefore, it is the trademark search and the ability to navigate the minefield of the application process where the skill of an experienced trademark attorney becomes the most valuable. It is his or her professional experience, which is your greatest asset during this process.

Certainly, as with anything if the cost of the service outweighs the benefits you need to determine if it is a good business decision. However, I have never, in all the years I have been practicing trademark and copyright law, had a client unhappy that they approached the protection of their most valuable business asset (their name and reputation) in a professional manner and in doing so assisted their business in reaching its full potential and ultimately an increase in revenue. I have said it many times before, brand protection pays for itself, whether by peace of mind, or by preventing your competition from trading on your goodwill or by giving you the ability to truly develop your brand identity and set you apart from your competition.

How to Prevent Falls and Slips in the Workplace

Falls and slips in the workplace is one of the biggest reasons for employer’s liability claims in the US. Over fifty percent of all liability claims are a result of slips and falls, which means that business owners need to pay careful attention to their risk assessment in order to reduce any accidents.

Workplace accidents can result in fatalities, this includes a slip over packaging tape that wasn’t picked up, in fact over six hundred workers died in 2012 as a result of falling or slipping at work.

There are a number of steps a business owner can take to prevent these accidents from happening, carrying out a thorough risk assessment is one of them. A risk assessment takes time to complete, but gives the business owner a workable document to determine what areas of the property have safety concerns.

Based on a risk assessment a company can also write guidelines for staff members to reduce any accidents occurring in the future. Of course accidents are what they are, there is no strict prevention, but efforts can be made to reduce the number of accidents taking place in the workplace throughout the US each year.

Cracks in the floor, broken tiles and lifting flooring can all result in a nasty accident. A slight fall in the office building can leave an employee off work for months, claiming against the company for medical expenses, loss of income and even mental distress caused by the accident.

Broken legs, broken arms, concussions and even death have been seen as a result of a slip or fall from poorly maintained floors. Spending money on the flooring of the building and ensuring the flooring is in excellent condition, maybe combining high slip areas with anti skid tape, can all help reduce the risk of these unnecessary accidents.

Another essential step is to light poor visibility areas to ensure that staff members can see the walkways clearly, this includes both inside and outside the building. Walkways leading to the car park should have good lightening, especially for those winter months when employees will make their way to their vehicles in the dark.

Many accidents result from poor visibility, dark corridors, poorly lit exterior areas and dimly lit stairwells can all result in a serious accident, which in turn can result in a liability claim against the company.

It’s advisable to ensure your liability insurance is up to date and that you have adequate cover, a risk assessment, putting down anti skid tape and lighting poorly visible areas won’t guarantee that accidents won’t happen.

Over and above floor maintenance, you need to ensure your staff follow strict housekeeping rules. If something is spilled on the floor, it should be cleaned quickly, marking the area as wet to ensure other staff members are aware, so they don’t slip on the slippery and wet surface. Packaging tape dropped on the floor or boxes should be picked up immediately to reduce the risk of a staff member getting their leg tangled in the tap, falling and breaking a bone.

Rules should be set in place to reduce these housekeeping mistakes, they can be included in the general staff guidelines, a way to reduce workplace accidents from taking place.

Use anti skid tape is slippery and dangerous areas. This anti skid tape can be used on stairs, in high traffic areas and throughout the workplace to reduce the risk of staff falling and injuring themselves, again resulting in a claim against the company.

The anti skid tape is available in a choice of colors to blend in with your company color scheme, so it doesn’t look unsightly. Instead the anti skid tape offers another solution to reducing workplace accidents.