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Profile Kate Faulkner
Managing Director  Bsc(Econ) CIM MBA
Kate's Top Tips
(simply click on the required title below) 
About Kate Faulkner    (back to top)
Kate lives and breathes property on a daily basis. Whether it’s about the history of housing, buying from new, the future of property prices, developing a property for your needs or purely for profit, renting as a tenant or letting as a landlord, Kate either has direct experience to draw from or has worked in the industry and has a great network of contacts to call on.

She is passionate about making sure anyone wanting to carry out a property project, such as buying and selling or investing in property gets the independent information they need and knows what companies to avoid and who is a must to talk to.

Kate’s desire to get the right information to people about how to carry out any property project has led to Kate publishing five books to date. Her first The Property Book was with Channel 5’s House Doctor since then Kate now writes the Which? Essential Guides to Property including, Buy, Sell and Move House; Renting and Letting and Develop your Property. Kate regularly features on local BBC Radio stations to comment on property issues and has appeared on Radio 4’s You and Yours.

Because of the huge number of changes in the property market over the next few years and the increased importance of property from an investment perspective, Kate set up to promote good companies within the property industry and make sure you get independent answers to your property questions.

For more information about Kate, help with property projects, and knowing who are the better companies to work with, visit 
Kate’s top tips on:-

Buying      (back to top)
Buying a property usually means some sort of compromise as rarely do we have the budget we want to buy anything, and even if we did there are no guarantees that our ideal property exists or is up for sale when we want to buy!

However, if you follow these top tips, it should put you in the best position to purchase the property you want:-

  1. Make sure you have your finances in order, knowing what you can afford before you start hunting for a property.
  2. If you have a property to sell, gain a valuation from three different estate agents.
  3. Get a mortgage agreement in principle to prove that you can afford the property.
  4. Write down your ‘wish list’ for a property and the minimum you need, give this to the estate agent.
  5. When viewing a property, make a list of all the things that need fixing. Check hot water comes out the taps quickly.
  6. Before you make an offer on a property, find 2-3 comparable properties that have sold within the last three months, so you are confident it’s a fair offer. Never buy a property without an independent Homebuyer or Building Survey.
  7. Choose your legal company carefully – don’t just go with the first one you come across at offer time. Make sure you go for a ‘no sale, no fee’ and ‘fixed fee’ conveyancing and keep track of the conveyancing process.
  8. Get yourself organised near to exchange by making your deposit readily available, getting removal quotes, and making a list of everyone you need to write to tell them your new address.
  9. Once you’ve exchanged make sure that you confirm your removals/van hire and send out your change of address.
  10. On completion day, make sure you get a reading of the electrics and gas and ring these through to the utility companies, giving your name as the new owner. Consider changing the main locks – you never know who still has keys!
For more information about buying property and saving money off great services visit
Copyright Designs on Property Ltd 2007-2010
Selling    (back to top)
Selling is a little harder than buying as you spend most of your time on tender hooks either waiting for viewings or that one decent offer you need to move your life forward.

Here are some top tips to help make sure you sell your property in good time to secure your next new home:-      
  1. Get your property paperwork organised. Such as such as timber and damp guarantees, any building, planning or electric certificates and details of your mortgage account (roll) number.
  2. Make sure your property is clutter free and any work such as dripping taps, loose roof tiles, bare wires is fixed.
  3. Before you call the agents, look who is selling your type of property in the area. Look for agents with sold boards.
  4. Then look for 2-3 properties similar to yours, checking how much they sold for on-line. This will give you an idea of the likely sale price for your home. 
  5. Invite three agents to value your home. Make sure they are members of an organisation such as INEA. Ask how many and which comparable properties they have sold; how many viewings and weeks it took to get a sale. Ask for three prices: advertising price, a six week sale price and one in two weeks. What’s their complaints procedure?
  6. Choose a legal provider and HIP company at the same time as you appoint your agent. Ensure your legal company won’t charge you twice for the same information. Fill in the Property Information and Fixtures and Fittings forms and ensure they are included in the pack.
  7. Before you get an offer, work out the minimum amount you need. Be reasonable rather than greedy. Take into consideration the person’s ability to buy. Cash buyers are ideal, but keep your property on the market until exchange.
  8. Prepare for your move by packing week by week – or ask the removal company to pack for you. Eat everything you have in your cupboards/freezer. Once you have an offer, gain quotes from three removal companies.
  9. At exchange, list and start sending everyone your new address. Inform utility companies 10 days before you complete on your change of address and ask them to read your meter on completion.
  10. On moving day let pets and children stay elsewhere for the day. Never give the buyer keys unless your solicitor says it’s OK. Give them to the agent instead. Label any keys left in the home for your buyer.
For more information about selling property visit 

Copyright Designs on Property Ltd 2007-2010
Investing       (back to top)
Property investment now forms part of many people’s pension or future income plans. However the market is unregulated and there are many sharks out there that will happily relieve you of your money! Make sure you stick to these essential ‘to dos’ to ensure your investment is a success:-
  1. Decide what your objectives are for investing and how long you are willing to invest to achieve them. Property is typically a 5-10 year investment. Plan wisely and ensure the money you invest can be tied up for that period of time.
  2. Consider all types of investment from property funds (like shares) to syndicates, buy to let, renovation, building for profit, holiday homes and hotel apartments.  Don’t just look at the residential market, consider commercial to.
  3. Discuss your plans with an IFA experienced in property investment, either via other property investors, or themselves.
  4. Choose with your IFA, the best type of investment and research relentlessly all the opportunities. If BTL or finding land, compare hundreds of properties not just five or ten. Then go for the one which give you the best financial return.
  5. Secure a no sale, no fee and fixed fee conveyancer that can buy within weeks rather than months.
  6. Calculate ALL the costs of your property investment, from buying, selling, running costs, one off fees and get an expert to ensure that you have calculated them correctly.
  7. If buying a property, make sure you purchase at 10% below the real market value.
  8. Once you have secured your investment, find an experienced property tax specialist to minimise your tax bill.
  9. Check how your investment is performing every year versus the market and versus other forms of investment.
  10. Have an ‘emergency’ plan in case you need to sell your investment quickly, for example through illness or loss of job. 
For more information about investing in property visit 

Copyright Designs on Property Ltd 2007-2010
Take care choosing your service (back to top)

Most of the media tell us that all agents, solicitors, surveyors and removal guys are no good. This results in us choosing either the cheapest service, or the person we liked the most. However there are some fantastic companies out there to help you.

Follow these top tips to ensure you get the very best of help during this stressful time.
  1. Always choose a professional service that is a member of a recognised organisation such as an Ombudsman Scheme and in particular has an independent complaints procedure.
  2. Check what qualifications people have.
  3. Read the terms and conditions you sign for each service – ask questions about anything you don’t understand.
  4. Agree exactly what service(s) you will receive. How will they update you on progress? Who will show people around your house? Is the removals team permanent or temporary staff? If they make an error, what recourse do you have?
  5. When choosing an estate agent, make sure they have experience of selling your type of property, price bracket and will advertise your property weekly in the paper and permanently in their window.
  6. Choose a finance company via an independent financial adviser to make sure you get access to all companies’ products.
  7. Engage a legal company who you already know and/or ensure they work on a ‘no sale, no fee’ and fixed fee basis.
  8. Choose a HIP provider at the same time as an agent/legal company. Make sure you won’t pay twice for the information.
  9. When buying, always get an RIC qualified surveyor to ensure that you understand what physical work is required.
  10. Have a removal company quote for packing as well as removals. Make sure their staff are permanent and trained.

For more information about good property services in the UK visit 

Copyright Designs on Property Ltd 2007-2010

Pricing a property      (back to top)

Pricing a property isn’t an exact science. Just because next door’s house sold for £200,000 doesn’t mean yours will. It may go for more or less, depending on how many people can buy at the time yours is on the market. There isn’t just one price for a property, but five. Some of these may be the same, but some vary by 10% or more. There is a marketing price, an offer price, the mortgage valuation, surveyor’s price and the final price that someone pays.

Follow these steps to price a property of your own or one you are interested in.
  1. Find 3-5 similar properties similar to the one you are looking to value (as a buyer or seller) that have recently sold - or have offers on them.
  2. Calculate the space of each property (square foot or metre).
  3. Divide the price that the properties sold for by their space and compare the price per square metre/foot.
  4. Consider why one sold more than another, for example a bigger garden or a double versus a single third bedroom.
  5. Do the same space calculation on the property you are considering and find out the price per square foot/metre.
  6. Compare this price versus the similar properties and then work out what a fair price is for the property.
  7. Make an offer (or accept an offer) that is proved to be fair by the above calculation.
  8. Take into consideration the valuation of the mortgage lender and if necessary, lower your offer/accept less if necessary.
  9. Read carefully the report from the surveyor and make any additional checks they recommend, for example timber and damp checks. Take off your offer the price of any work required that has not been calculated into the price already.
  10. Agree a final price with the vendor. Don’t forget a property is not worth just what you are willing to pay for it, but also what someone is willing to sell for.
For more information about pricing a property visit 

Copyright Designs on Property Ltd 2007-2010
Buying Overseas   (back to top)

Many people find it terribly stressful to buy a property in the UK, let alone abroad. But people appear to be more trusting of agents and developers abroad than they do here. Some will not even view the property or visit the area they are buying into. Others just jump in while on holiday, only to regret it later.
Answer all of these questions in detail to ensure that you don’t get caught with a property you don’t want, can’t rent out and have no chance of selling! 
  1. Is this a safe country to buy? IE is legal property ownership water tight or can someone take your property /land and charge you for the privilege? Does the developer have permission to build? Has it been legally passed?
  2. Understand their financial system. Can you get a mortgage for a property in that country, and are you allowed to take as much money out of the country as you like? What are the costs associated with this and with currency exchange.
  3. If planning to rent the property, do you need a licence? Make offers/exchange/completion, subject to obtaining one.
  4. What is the buying and selling process? Are properties offered at a fixed or offers over price? Are offers legally binding?
  5. How much will a property cost to buy and sell? How much will it cost to run? What bank charges will you incur?
  6. Make sure you have an English speaking, independent property surveyor to check the property – whether new build or a second hand home.
  7. Who will look after the property when you are not there? A letting agent, a neighbour? A property management company? Find people that you can trust, ie that come recommended by someone who already owns property out there, not the company selling the property to you.
  8. What are the taxes you will need to pay in the country and what taxes will you be liable for at home? How will inheritance work?
  9. Ensure you have essential tradesmen you can call on if there is a problem, such as gas, electric and a plumber (or pool tender if it’s a holiday home!)0.   If investing, ensure you have an experienced property tax specialist (for both countries) to keep your tax bill down.
For more information about buying property abroad visit
Copyright Designs on Property Ltd 2007-201

Selling a Property Abroad         (back to top)
It is usually easier to buy abroad than it is to sell. Despite our criticism of the UK’s property market, selling property can be done quickly if priced well. However when you buy into a holiday home, they are not an ‘essential purchase’. Viewings and purchases tend to be in the high season months, so if the season is just finished, you may have to wait another year to be able to sell.
So here are some top tips to ensure you sell your property abroad when you want to:-
  1. If originally a new build, check with the developer to see if they have a facility to sell your home and if so how much it would cost and what price you are likely to get.
  2. Look to see how other people are selling their property and who has sold them.  
  3. Establish a price by trying to find out what someone paid for similar properties – if necessary act as a buyer for similar properties like yours and see what they are advertised for and what people pay for them.  
  4. Talk to local agents to find out the best time to sell your property, who might buy the property and how long it will take. If it will be another Brit, consider the UK agents who now sell property abroad such as INEA agents.
  5. Carefully cost how much it will be to sell, including taxes you may be liable for so you can factor this into the sales price.
    UK agents earn some of the lowest commissions in the world. Portugal agents charge up to 10% to sell your home.
  6. Find a good legal company make sure they are English speaking but with expertise in the country.
  7. Read any terms and conditions of services you need carefully (have them translated if necessary) before you sign them.
  8. Ensure the property is newly decorated and in keeping with its style, make it look like it’s ready to move into.
  9. Find the best deal you can to convert the sales proceeds back to UK currency; it can save you thousands of pounds.  
  10. Consult your tax expert to fill in any forms and pay any tax required in the UK and abroad.
For more information about selling property abroad visit

Copyright Designs on Property Ltd 2007-2010       (back to top)


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