Below are a selection of the most common frequently asked questions that may help answer your queries on property matters.

General FAQ's

How do I get a property valuation?

With our network of offices this is easy, please contact your local branch or follow the link to our valuation form. Yateley –  – 01252 597900 Ash  – 01252 353030 – 01252 375999 – 01252 812121 – 01256 764666 Hartley – 01252 844015 Use our online form to request a valuation:  Request Free Valuation

What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the ‘act of transfer of title to property, from one person to another’. In essence it is the legal process of buying and selling property.

When should I instruct a solicitor?

It is important to find a solicitor you are happy with while you are in the process of seriously viewing properties, we can make recommendations if you are unsure of whom to approach. By doing this you can then instruct your solicitor as soon as your offer is accepted to then get the buying process underway.

Do I need to redecorate before I sell my home?

It is not essential to redecorate your property before placing it on the market however, if an area is in need of a lick of paint this will appeal to potential buyers.

How should I present my property for sale?

First impressions count, making the presentation of your property critical to a successful sale.  Consider addressing any DIY jobs you have been meaning to get done, add a fresh coat of paint where necessary and try to declutter to make rooms appear larger.

What is the process of selling a home?

The first thing to do id to find out how much your property is worth by obtaining an accurate valuation from Mackenzie Smith.  Our experienced and friendly staff deliver accurate valuations every day across the region.

Instruct an estate agent; at Mackenzie Smith we can give your property maximum exposure across a wide range of media to find your perfect buyer.  When you instruct Mackenzie Smith to sell your property you will automatically benefit from our comprehensive marketing package including: exposure on our  website and national property portals, full colour property details, inclusion in local property newspapers, emails to our vast database of potential buyers and features on our social network pages, blog and regular newsletter.

It is then a good idea to get mortgage advice if you need to finance the purchase of your new home.

You will also need to hire a conveyancing solicitor to deal with the legal transfer of property; at Mackenzie Smith we will be able to recommend a suitable solicitor for this purpose.

After conducting viewings of your property we will pass on the offers for your consideration, once you have accepted an offer we will send out acceptance letters, you will need to instruct your solicitor and mortgage company, who we will also liaise with and take your home off the market.

The solicitors will then to searches in preparation for exchange of contracts while the mortgage company with complete the application and conduct their valuation for mortgage loan purposes.

When you exchange contracts with the buyer you become legally committed to selling the property and they are legally committed to buying it from you.

On the set completion date you can all move into your new properties.   Completion is when the property changes ownership, you accept payment, and hand over the keys.  On the day of completion, the money is transferred and the deeds of the property are transferred between each side’s solicitor/conveyancer.  Your solicitor/conveyancer will also register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry.

Are estate agents regulated?

Although it is not compulsory it is good to look for estate agents who are regulated.  At Mackenzie Smith we are pleased to be members of The Property Ombudsmen, The National Association of Estate Agents and The Association of Residential lettings Agents.  As qualified professionals, we are pleased to follow their codes of conduct giving you peace of mind and reassurance.

What do I do if I have a complaint about an estate agent?

As members of regulatory bodies we have an effective complaints procedure in place.

Our aim is to offer excellent service, but we know sometimes things can go wrong.  If you have any reason at all to complain, we will do our very best to put things right as soon as you get in touch.

Where that’s not possible, we will make sure you have the contact details of the person dealing with your complaint.

No matter how you choose to tell us about your complaint, whether it is by phone, in branch, by email or in writing, we will give it our full attention and commitment to resolving it for you.

How we’ll handle your complaint;

We will do everything we can to resolve your complaint as soon as we receive it.

Occasionally, for more complex issues, we need more time to investigate your concerns.  If this is the case, we will send you an acknowledgement letter outlining the next steps and when you can expect to hear from us.  We will keep you updated on the progress throughout our investigation.

Once all the details of the complaint have been investigated, (we may call you for further details) we will issue a ‘final response’ to your complaint.

The Property Ombudsman allow 15 working days for us to resolve complaints but we will aim to get your complaint resolved well before this deadline.

If you are not satisfied with our final response;

Mackenzie Smith is a member of the Property Ombudsman, who offer an independent review service.  If you are not happy with the resolution we have proposed, you can ask the Property Ombudsman Service to look at your case.

In order to take your case to the Property Ombudsman you must have first brought it to our attention.  You can contact the Property Ombudsman by writing to;

The Property Ombudsman

Milford House

43-45 Milford Street




Tel: 01722 333306 Fax: 01722 332296


What do clients say about Mackenzie Smith?

We are pleased to say we have many satisfied and happy clients, please see our testimonials.

What is a chain?

A chain is a used in reference to the process of buying or selling a house, it is a sequence of linked house purchases, each of which is dependent on the preceding and succeeding purchase.

What is The Property Ombudsman?

The Property Ombudsman (TPO) scheme is designed to reach a resolution of unresolved disputes in full and final settlement. It provides consumers (who may be actual and potential buyers, sellers, landlords, leaseholders, lessees and tenants of property or have been otherwise involved by the actions of an agent) with free and independent redress of complaints relating to acts or omissions of Registered Firms in connection with the sale and/or purchase and/or letting and/or management of property in the United Kingdom, Channel Islands and the Isle of Man.

The Property Ombudsmen, is a free, fair and independent service for buyers, sellers, tenants and landlords of property in the U.K.

What are the advantages of buying a new home?

There are many advantages to buying a new home that include;

Energy Efficiency

New homes are well insulated and include double glazing as standard making them cheaper to run than older homes.

A Blank Canvas

Depending on the point of construction, you can choose almost everything from the colour of the carpet to the type of worktop in the kitchen.

Stress Free Move

With no onward chain the moving process should be hassle free and for those opting for part-exchange deals there is even less to worry about.

Secure and Safe

New homes are safer and more secure than older homes. Fire safety is helped by the use of smoke alarms, fire doors, and fire retardant materials. New homes often include security locks, burglar alarms and security lighting as standard.

10 year Warranty

Most new homes come with a 10 year warranty by Zurich Municipal, the Premier Guarantee or the NHBC.


What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax charged on all purchases of houses, flats and other land and buildings in the UK over a certain price.

The SDLT rate depends on:

  • the purchase price of the property
  • whether the property is residential

SDLT may also be due if you lease a property.

For up to date information on the rates and tiers, please click here.

Sellers FAQ's

What is the first step to selling my home?

If are considering selling your property, the first and most important step to take is to get an accurate valuation. Our experienced and friendly staff deliver accurate valuations every day, across the region. Please follow the link to request a valuation from your nearest office.

Free property valuation

Why do I need an estate agent?

It is important to instruct an estate agent for a number of reasons, from having an effective platform from which to market and advertise your property, to benefitting from our expertise in the buying and selling process and effective communication with any possible chain.

Why Mackenzie Smith?

How do I get a property valuation?

With our network of offices this is easy, please contact your local branch or follow the link to our valuation form. Yateley –  – 01252 597900 Ash  – 01252 353030 – 01252 375999 – 01252 812121 – 01256 764666 Hartley – 01252 844015 Use our online form to request a valuation:  Request Free Valuation

What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the ‘act of transfer of title to property, from one person to another’. In essence it is the legal process of buying and selling property.

Can people just show up at an Open House Event?

As with all our viewings and Open House Events please contact the relevant branch in advance of the viewing, this gives us the opportunity to answer any question you might have and confirm if the property is appropriate for you, and your suitability as a purchaser. We strive to confirm all viewings in advance, to ensure buyers are able to proceed to a property transaction and for the security and peace of mind of our homeowner clients. If a new applicant we have not arranged a time with arrives to look at the property we will ask some qualifying questions and if suitable confirm an available slot during the open day for their accompanied viewing. If we are fully booked we will need to schedule a viewing appointment at an alternative time suitable to the seller. If we are not satisfied the new applicant is a viable buyer they may not be allowed to view the property and further qualification of the applicant will follow.

Do I need to be at the Open House event?

We recommend that the owner of the property is not present during the Open House Event, this helps potential buyers remain objective when they look at the property and helps them picture themselves in the house. Another benefit is that a seller can’t become attached or more friendly with one potential purchaser over another which could complicate the decision making process when offers are put forward. Giving your Estate Agent free run of the house also assists in running a smooth and professional Open House Event.

Should I worry about the security of my home?

All viewings are accompanied so there is little opportunity for any security risk, we do however recommend that the house is free from clutter and any small personal belongings of high value are kept in a secure place. Our staff pay careful attention to make sure doors and windows are secure prior to leaving the property and will ask viewers to extend courtesy to protect floors and surfaces.

Do I have to pay for a market appraisal?

No, our expert and friendly staff deliver accurate market appraisals to let you know how much your property is worth in the current market place, across the region free of charge.

How do I sell my land?

Talk to our Land Department, Mackenzie Smith Land Department has been selling land to both Private Clients and Companies covering the area of our office network and beyond for over 22 years. We take great pride in being one of the most experienced and respected Land Agents in the area.

How do I find out what my land is worth?

If you own a property and land that you feel may have development potential then we are able to advise you on the most appropriate way to extract the best value taking into account land legalities, method of sale and your personal situation. All enquiries are treated in the strictest confidence.  Please click here for a land valuation.

Who will conduct viewings on my property?

Viewings will always be conducted by a member of Mackenzie Smith Staff.

If I accept an offer will my property be shown to any other buyers?

No, once an offer is accepted, your property is withdrawn from the market to allow for the legal process of purchase to begin.

When do I have to move out?

On the completion date, which is mutually agreed by yourself and the buyer.

What is Capital Gains Tax and do I have to pay it?

Capital Gains Tax is a tax on the gain or profit you make when you sell, give away or otherwise dispose of something. It applies to assets that you own, such as shares or property. There’s a tax-free allowance and some additional reliefs that may reduce your Capital Gains Tax bill. Sometimes you may have no tax to pay.

If you are selling a property that is your main home, you won’t have to pay tax on it as long as you satisfy certain conditions. However, if you are selling a property that is not your main home, it is likely you may have to pay Capital Gains Tax.

You can find out more at the HM Revenue & Customs website.

What does ‘Sold Subject to Contract’ mean?

Sold STC and Sold STCM Sold ‘Subject to Contract’ (STC) means that the homeowner has accepted an offer from a buyer but the paperwork is not yet complete. You can still enquire about a Sold STC property as the sale is not complete until the signed contracts are exchanged.

Why do I need to show my ID before I buy or sell a home?

Under the Money Laundering Regulations 2007 and The Proceeds of Crime Act 2002, we are legally obliged to verify the identity of the Client through sight of legally recognized photographic identification (e.g. passport, photographic drivers licence) and documentary proof of address.

Buyers FAQ's

What is a Mortgage Offer?

A mortgage offer is issued by a lender once your application has been received and necessary checks, such as a valuation and confirmation of your details such as income etc, have been carried out. It sets out the terms under which the lender is prepared to offer you a loan.

What is a Mortgage valuation?

A valuation is an inspection of the property to ascertain it’s acceptability to the lender as security against the mortgage loan. It is NOT a structural survey or survey of any kind into the fabric of the property but a comment that it will or will not support the loan.

What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the ‘act of transfer of title to property, from one person to another’. In essence it is the legal process of buying and selling property.

What is a Mortgage in Principal?

A ‘Decision in Principle’ or ‘Agreement in Principle’ is a statement that a lender is prepared to lend an individual a certain amount after an income and credit reference credit search has been undertaken. You will usually be given a certificate detailing the maximum amount the lender is prepared to loan. This is not an official offer but a guide to show what you can borrow and that a credit check has been carried out.

More on Mortgages.

What is Stamp Duty?

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax charged on all purchases of houses, flats and other land and buildings in the UK over a certain price.

The SDLT rate depends on:

  • the purchase price of the property
  • whether the property is residential

SDLT may also be due if you lease a property.

For up to date information on the rates and tiers, please click here.

Landlord FAQ's

How do I get a property valuation?

With our network of offices this is easy, please contact your local branch or follow the link to our valuation form. Yateley –  – 01252 597900 Ash  – 01252 353030 – 01252 375999 – 01252 812121 – 01256 764666 Hartley – 01252 844015 Use our online form to request a valuation:  Request Free Valuation

I want to let my property, where do I start?

Get professional advice from an ARLA agent (Association of Residential Letting Agents). They will advise on rental levels, demand for your property, your legal responsibilities as a landlord and the current legislation that you need to be aware of.

Do I need to tell my mortgage lender that I intend letting out my property?

Yes, as they may impose special conditions in the Tenancy Agreement.


How much will it cost me to let my property?

This will depend on how much contact you would like with your tenant and therefore which level of service you need.

What are the additional set up costs?

  • EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) This is a legal requirement and is valid for 10 years.
  • Comprehensive inventory and schedule of condition
  • Landlord Gas Safety Inspection
  • Full professional clean

Do I need to have an electrical inspection?

We recommend a PAT test and a Periodic Electrical Inspection Report to ensure that you are compliant.

How do I know if my furniture complies?

If you are leaving furniture in the property, you must ensure that it complies to The Furniture and Furnishings Regulations. We can advise on this.

Who will conduct viewings on my property and when will they occur?

We will, at a time that will suit you and the prospective tenant.

What reference checks are made on a prospective tenant?

Employment, salary, previous landlord, and we will check to ensure the applicant has no CCJ’s (County Court Judgements) against them and that there is no evidence of fraud or serious credit problems.

How much is the tenant’s deposit and what happens to it?

Usually the equivalent to six weeks rent as a security deposit, which will be held by us as a ‘stakeholder’ and registered with the TDS (Tenancy Deposit Scheme).

How do I receive my rental income from my letting agent?

If you choose a Rent Collect or Fully Managed service we will organise for the tenant to set up a standing order to us on the rent due date. We will then transfer the money to your account minus our commission and any outgoings such as the cost of any repairs. You will receive a statement every month.

Can I protect myself in the event that the rent is not paid?

We can advise you of the insurance provided by the referencing company that will cover you in the event of non payment of rent.

Can I enter my property during the tenancy?

You will need to give the tenant appropriate notice before you can enter the property.

Who will pay the utility bills?

The landlord is responsible while the property is vacant. The inventory clerk will read the utility meters at check-in. The tenant is responsible for all once they have moved in, unless otherwise stated in the tenancy agreement.

What is a routine visit?

The landlord or letting agent gives the tenant notice that they will be visiting the property to check for any potential maintenance issue and to see if the property is being looked after as per the tenancy agreement.

What happens if my tenants want to leave at the end of the tenancy?

In advance, we will contact you both to renew the tenancy. If your tenants wish to vacate we will re market the property within the last two months of the tenancy to secure suitable new tenants. If your tenants wish to stay we will negotiate new terms and draft a new tenancy agreement for your approval and signature.

What is TPO?

The TPO (The Property Ombudsman) is an independent body to which landlords can refer any complaint should the agent fail to address it to their satisfaction.

Am I liable to pay tax on my rental income?

All landlords could be liable to pay tax on their rental income. If you reside overseas we will need your exemption certificate from HMRC or we will have a legal obligation to deduct tax at source. Further advice can be found on the HMRC website.

Tenants FAQ's

I need a place to rent, what do I do first?

Prepare a budget. Write down what you spend each month to see how much is left for rent. Bear in mind that there will be a security deposit and inventory check-in charge to pay before you move in. To pass referencing, your salary will need to be 2.5 times the annual rent. So if the rent is £1,000pcm the referencing company will want to see a salary of £30,000 a year to enable them to pass you.

I have seen a property I am interested in, now what?

View the property. If you then want to proceed, email your interest to the agent. Confirm how soon you want to move in, how long you plan to be there and who will be living at the property including any pets. Mention what you do for a living and the reason you are renting, this information can then be passed to the landlord for their consideration.  If you are looking to move quickly it might be worth contacting your nominated referees and advise them to respond promptly.

Why do I need to be referenced?

The landlord needs to be sure that you won’t have any problems paying the rent on a monthly basis and that you will take good care of their property.

What does referencing involve?

Referencing is nothing to worry about. You will be asked by our referencing company to complete an online application form, giving contact details of your employer and previous landlord (if applicable). Checks will be made to confirm your employment and salary, and further checks made to establish if there are any County Court Judgements, Insolvency or Bankruptcy. As part of the referencing process, and to comply with the Right to Rent legislation, we will need to take copies of your photo ID (usually your passport) and a copy of a utility/mobile phone bill from the last three months.

What if there is a problem with my reference?

There may be occasions where tenants don’t pass referencing. This could be due to an insufficient salary or a temporary employment contract. This is not uncommon and there are still options for tenants in this position that are worth discussing with your agent.

What is a guarantor?

A guarantor is usually a family member or guardian who agrees to be referenced in exactly the same way as you, who will then be added to the tenancy agreement and responsible for the rent should you fail to pay.

Why do I have to pay a deposit?

You have an obligation under the terms of the tenancy agreement to look after the property and return it in the same condition that it was in at the start of the tenancy (allowing for fair wear and tear). The deposit is held to ensure that any damages can be corrected at the end of the tenancy.

What will happen to my deposit?

All deposits must now be registered with an approved Tenancy Deposit Protection Scheme, which we do. We will hold the deposit as a ‘stakeholder’ throughout the tenancy. This means that no deductions can be made from your deposit without your agreement and if you don’t agree to the proposed deductions you can refer the case to the TDS who will look at the evidence supplied and make a binding decision.

What is a tenancy agreement?

A tenancy agreement is a legally binding contract signed by you and the landlord. It sets out in detail what is required from both parties. If you are unclear about any of your responsibilities, it is essential that you get independent advice from the CAB or a solicitor.

What is an inventory check-in? Do I have to attend?

On the day that you move in to your new home you will be met by the inventory clerk who will go through the inventory with you (this is a comprehensive schedule of the condition of the property). It is very important that you attend the inventory check-in if possible as it is your chance to raise any issues that you have about the condition of the property. At the end of your tenancy you will have an inventory check-out and if there is something wrong at check-out that didn’t appear on the check-in you might be charged. The inventory clerk will also read the gas and electricity meters and ask you to sign to confirm the accuracy of the report. Keys will then be handed over and you can move in to your new home.

What is a routine visit?

Your landlord or letting agent will regularly schedule visits to the property to ensure maintenance issues are being attended to and that the property is being looked after in line with the tenancy agreement.

Who is responsible for repairs?

The landlord is responsible for maintaining the structure of the property and it is worth checking at the start of the tenancy who you should contact if repairs or maintenance is required. On occasion, this communication may come back to us.

Can I decorate or put pictures on the wall?

In most cases, a tenant can only decorate or make any changes to the property with the express permission of the landlord. We recommend that you always get permission in writing so that there is no confusion at the end of the tenancy.

What if I accidently cause damage to the property?

Accidents happen. Report it as soon as possible to your landlord or agent. You may be covered under your contents insurance depending on your policy. You will be expected to cover the cost of putting it right and it is best not to ignore it as it might get worse and will be deducted from your deposit at the end of the tenancy.

What if the landlord isn’t keeping to their side of the agreement?

The first thing you should do is speak to your letting agent. The letting agent has a duty of care to you and may be able to help resolve issues depending on whether the property is fully managed or not. Alternatively, independent advice is available from The Citizens Advice Bureau.

Can a landlord enter the property?

Once you have moved in, and unless it is an emergency, your landlord must give you the required notice, as per the tenancy agreement, before entering the property.

What if I want to end the tenancy?

Check your tenancy agreement. Most of our tenancy agreements contain a break clause allowing both landlord and tenant the option of giving two months’ notice after the first four months. If the initial fixed term has expired you could be on what is called ‘a periodic’ tenancy and the notice period is different so it is best to check with your letting agent.

What if I can’t pay my rent?

It is always your responsibility to pay the rent, but circumstances change. Contact your letting agent as soon as possible so they can advise your landlord. Don’t try and ignore the situation and let arrears get out of hand. The sooner you contact the agent the sooner a plan of action can be put into place.