22 Baldocks Road, Theydon Bois, Epping, Essex, CM16 7EB

01992 666 191

Mon - Fri: 9am - 7pm
Sat - Sun: 9am - 5pm
Available for viewings 7 days a week

Your Local
Estate Agent

Your Local
Estate Agent
Covering West Essex

Your Local
Estate Agent

Your Local
Estate Agent
Covering West Essex

Your Local
Estate Agent

New guidance out this week from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) issued with the aim of reducing the number of External Wall Surveys (EWS1 Form) being requested by lenders on blocks of flats has been broadly welcomed. 

The aim is to help lenders save time when the inspections are not needed, with most lenders expected to follow the advice.

These checks were first developed to assess the potential financial impact of cladding on high-rise flats following the Grenfell tragedy in 2017.

Initially, only those who owned flats in over 18m with dangerous flammable ACM cladding were affected. Yet, since mortgage lenders started requesting fire surveys from a much wider range of sellers, hundreds of thousands of leaseholders have since been asked for completed EWS1 forms when they sell or re-mortgage. This led to severe delays owed in part to a shortage of qualified surveyors available do the checks leaving thousands of leaseholders in limbo.

The ‘valuation of properties in multi-storey, multi-occupancy residential buildings with cladding’ guidance was consulted on by lenders, valuers and fire safety experts for two months, and the recommendations are now set to be implemented by 5 April 2021.

Dame Janet Paraskeva, chair of the RICS standards and regulation board, said: “This announcement is a crucial step in unlocking the market, by ensuring that only those buildings where there are risks of costly remediation as a result of safety concerns from cladding are subject to additional checks.

“The guidance is anticipated to result in a reduction in the number of EWS1 requests which will therefore allow more focus on the assessments of higher risk buildings, which should speed up the overall process while ensuring appropriate protection for lenders and purchasers.”

In a joint statement, UK Finance and the Building Societies Association (BSA) said they welcomed the final guidance and expected the number of EWS1 requests to fall as a result. But they said it would still be up to lenders to have the final say. 

It states: “Government confirmation that it supports the guidance produced by RICS as an appropriate, risk-based and proportionate basis on which to proceed with valuation assessments, in line with the building safety Consolidated Advice Note published in January 2020 is a welcome and necessary step for lenders.

“We anticipate that many lenders will implement this guidance, which should see the number of EWS1 requests fall. However, this is a decision for each lender to make based on their own risk appetite.

“Those buying a flat should understand that a decision made by a valuer not to require an EWS1 inspection under the new guidance is no guarantee that fire safety remediation works will not be required in the future.”

Housing secretary Robert Jenrick has welcomed the new guidance from RICS.

He said: “I welcome RICS new guidance which will mean nearly 500,000 leaseholders will no longer need an EWS1 form – helping homeowners to sell or re-mortgage more quickly and easily.

“We need a sensible, proportionate approach to risk and costs should only be incurred where they are absolutely necessary and less costly and intrusive mitigations can’t be put in place.”

“Backed by nearly £700,000 government funding, over 500 assessors have now started training so that where valuations are needed these can be done more quickly, speeding up the process for homeowners.”

To be clear, this logo is a joke and after some Googling, I wasn't able to actually find a firm of solicitors unfortunate enough to have that name. 

If you were hoping I would name names then I am sorry to disappoint.  

Those solicitors who are the "wurst" know who they are.

Luckily, they are few and far between.

Most conveyancing solicitors these days are consummate professionals and thanks to the like of Google Reviews can easily be avoided.

This is my personal advice as to how I would select a good solicitor (and/or conveyancer) to support and act for me during a property sale or purchase.

If you're purchasing a property, your choice of solicitor is all that more important. I found this out myself first hand when buying. The  solicitor in question stuck to their guns and wouldn't compromise on the information supplied by the other party. Let's just say I am thankful for their assistance and it helped me dodge a bullet on what could have been a costly mistake. Although, I hasten to add I didn't handle it with too much decorum at the time.  

Moving home is a challenging and eye-opening experience for anyone and involves more paperwork than you can shake a stick at. It takes you outside of your comfort zone but as long as you have the right support; an excellent estate agent *cough* like Lyttons Estate Agents *cough*, solicitor and mortgage broker, you will find your way through without too much of a headache. 

Instructing a solicitor is essential for modern day property purchasing. Even if you’re purchasing without a mortgage, I would still recommend you employ a professional to check it over.

As an estate agent, I have somewhat selfish reasons as to why I want you to employ the best solicitor/conveyancer you can. Essentially, a good solicitor is easier to work with and it’ll make my job that much easier.  

What do I look for in a solicitor? 

Communication. This is my No. 1 requirement for numerous reasons. If you can’t get hold of your solicitor as their fee-payer then the chances I will are even less. They won’t be able to help you with the other items on this list. I look for them to be able to communicate with me and other estate agents during sales progression, you of course and the other solicitors in the chain in a timely manner, especially by email and definitely on the days when exchange of contracts and completion takes place.

Helps you understand. This is an extension of communication but goes that one step further. I have had questions, you will have questions, we all have questions that we need help to answer. A good solicitor will explain why something is relevant to you and help you understand when our knowledge as mere estate agents is exhausted. 

Attention to detail. This should go without saying, especially when you’re purchasing. You’re employing a solicitor to explore your property purchase to ensure you’re buying what you think you’re buying. If this isn’t the case, they should make you aware of it.

Value. I have used “value” in lieu of “price”. Whether a solicitor/conveyancer is “cheap” or “expensive” is determined by the service you receive and the job they have done, not the bill at the end. I have used solicitors that are the cheapest quote and did an excellent job. I have had solicitors who were the most expensive and were so difficult to get hold of, the buyer sat in their office until she was seen so that we could exchange contracts on her purchase. 

In my opinion, price should never be the determining factor of who you choose to instruct. 

What do you think? Have I missed anything out? 

I have a number of local solicitors with whom I work with regularly and would be more than happy to recommend.  

I don’t receive any referral fees for recommending them, they’re just good and they’ll make your life easier by using them. 

I hope you find these tips useful and best of luck with your property sale or purchase. 

The new £500,000 nil rate band for Stamp Duty Land Tax [SDLT] won't end on 31st March 2021, it will end on the 30th June. 2021. Then, to smooth the transition back to normal, the nil rate band will be £250,000, double its standard level, until the end of September 2021. 

That means you will continue pay 0% SDLT on the first £500,000 until 30th June 2021 [Save £15,000]

Then from the 1st of July, you will pay 0% SDLT on the first £250,000 until the end of September 2021. [Save the 2% you would have paid from £125,001 to £250,000 = £2.5k]

From 1st October 2021, back to normal Stamp Duty thresholds.



36 in 100 property sales fall through. That is a ridiculously high, avoidable number of failed property transactions that would have taken weeks, sometime months of paperwork, discussions, viewings and much more – and you could go back at square one. 

You will easily spend £1,000’s in solicitor’s fees, surveys, and refinancing by this stage. You have probably committed to your move physically, emotionally and financially, only to have the rug pulled out from underneath you. 

If only there were a way to mitigate that risk and ensure your sale is secure from the outset…

Our SafeSale Reservation Agreements do just that. 

  • Assurance that your sale is much more secure than ever before
  • Real commitment from buyers at the point a sale has been agreed
  • Faster transaction times. Solicitors receive more information quicker, reducing transaction times significantly
  • Reduce fall-through rate to less than 1% - a reduction of ~97% of the national rate
  • Reduced stress knowing your buyer is committed to their purchase of your home
  • Eliminate the risk of “gazundering” without justification
  • Eliminate the risk of a buyer withdrawing for no reason and leaving your £1,000’s out of pocket
  • This service is free of charge
  • Exclusive to our vendor clients

For more information about our SafeSale Reservation Agreement, please call us on 01992 666 191.


In the interest of full disclosure, this list is what I often bring up with my vendors in the West Essex area (Woodford, Chigwell, Buckhurst Hill, Loughton, Theydon Bois, Epping & Abridge) to help expedite their sales. Not every vendor chooses to follow every tip on the list but those that have found it extremely beneficial with the reduced timescales helping them to exchange and complete months sooner than “normal”. 

Never before has it be so critical to a successful sale for estate agents, solicitors and the plethora other professions involved in your sale to work together to get your move across the finish line.

Below are my tried and tested tips that will supercharge your sale and get you in the position to exchange and complete around 3 months faster that is “usual”at the present time of writing (1st March 2021 - Stamp Duty Land Tax holiday expires on 31st March 2021 and the local authorities are struggling to return local searches in time).

And yes - it is mostly PAPERWORK related. I know it's boring and you want to get on with putting your house on the market and carrying out viewings. Yet, like selling a car with full service history, if you haven't got your ducks in a row you'll find a buyer delays making a decision until more information is available. Many buyers of a property will spend months going the the process of discovery from mortgage and homebuyers surveys to having a review of the legal documentation - most of which they only see for the first time when the solicitor asks them to review the contract and sign it. The more information supplied up front, the more transparent the sale and the quicker it'll proceed. 

Once you have a buyer, having the following matters packaged and ready to go for your purchaser will dramatically increase the speed at which you will be in a position to exchange and confirm a mutually agreeable completion date. 

  1. Gather your paperwork. Obvious, right? Have you done it? Save yourself a couple of weeks of turfing out every drawer in the house in search of what you thought you had put away for safe keeping and is now so safe that even you can’t locate it. Do it now and you’ll be glad you did when the contract goes out to your buyer the same day your sale is agreed. [Save 1-2 weeks] 
  1. Ensure your home complies with current legislation/building regulations, or complied at the time of completion of works. We’re talking extensions, new windows, septic tanks, gas, electrics, rights of way, etc. If you have completely misplaced this vital documentation, you can check various websites to find copies of your certificates; FENSA for windows; Gas Safe for boiler/heating installs, NICEIC for electrical work name but a few. 
  1. Instruct your solicitor before we’ve found you a buyer. This gives you an early opportunity to establish a rapport with your solicitor and test that when crunch time comes that they’ll be able to perform as expected. I have several tried and tested solicitors I recommend. What I look for most in a solicitor is their ability to communicate by your preferred method of contact and respond in a timely manner above all else. This will also save time in filling out the relevant forms required to instruct your solicitor, provide them with copies of your ID and for them to compile responses to standard enquiries ready to send out with the contract to the buyer’s solicitor. If you haven't yet decided on a solicitor, at least attempt to complete Law Society Property Information Form (TA6), Law Society Fixtures and Contents Form (TA10) and if leasehold, Law Society Leasehold Information Form (TA7). [Save 2-3 weeks] 
  1. Apply for local authority searches on your own home and sell them to your buyer’s solicitor. At the time of writing, this is the single greatest and longest cause of delays to practically every sale. Epping Forest District Council normally quote a 5 week [25 working days] turnaround between your buyers’ application and their provision of the local search to their solicitor. At present, with this extreme level of demand we’re finding it’s not uncommon for that lead-time to become 8-9 weeks. Historically, buyers could apply for personal searches to reduce this delay. Yet, in 2021 the lenders are becoming ever more authoritative over what is required for them to agree to lend and the official search from the local authority is something they generally want to satisfy their criteria. You can sell these to your buyer’s solicitor at cost price once you have agreed a sale. [Save 8-9 weeks]  
  1. Pre-empt known issues arising and have quotes in place. We’re talking about the big things; damp, Japanese knotweed, subsidence, etc. These are issues that will be cited on even as basic a survey as a mortgage valuation. Obtaining quotes now when you have the time to shop around and get the best price/service will help negotiations post-survey, if required. [Save 2-4 weeks] 
  1. Get quotes from removal companies. Quotes will vary greatly dependent on where you’re moving to, how far you’re moving and whether you’ll be placing your possessions in to storage at any point. Ensure your removal company has the appropriate insurances to cover your possessions. Traditionally, this is done when you are nearing an exchange of contracts but then of course, you’re under pressure to make a decision and place a deposit. Do it once you have agreed a sale and you’ll have more breathing room to make a decision, obtain several quotes and pick and choose the best option for your needs. [Save 1-2 weeks] 

Bonus Hacks for Leasehold / Share of Freehold Properties. 

  1. Speak to the Managing Agent of your building and ask about requesting the “leasehold pack”. This is also why solicitors charge more to sell a leasehold property compared to a freehold property. There is more work involved and it takes longer. Your buyers’ solicitor needs to comb through the leasehold pack to check the building in which your leasehold property is situated is being maintained correctly. [Save 2-6 weeks - it depends on the efficacy of the managing agent]

As an estate agent, this is often seen as beyond our remit. Yet, it is become part of my service to vendor clients to help get them "sale ready" and to expedite their sales as soon as a buyer is found. 

Are you thinking of selling a property in East London / West Essex areas?

Have you got any questions? 

Please feel free to contact me 01992 666 191 or email me at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Best wishes, 


Christopher Jones

Managing Director

Lyttons Estate Agents Ltd



The Property Ombudsman Trading Standards Rightmove