We set out below brief answers to some frequent questions which have been asked over many years by applicants and clients who are buying, selling, taking or granting a lease of D1 properties (now E/F1/F2 and sui generis), particularly for religious or community occupation. We trust that this will be of assistance to you. For further clarification as to these answers, if you need specific advice, or in respect of former D1/D2 uses, please call us for an informal and confidential discussion relating to how to deal with your property.
Starting The Process
Bernard Gordon & Company can provide initial advice without any obligation for properties in Central and throughout Greater London, within the M25 and generally in the south East of England. This will include an initial internal inspection of the property following which, subject to all the relevant information being available, we will advise as to the demand, saleability and we will provide you with recommended asking price or rent level. Please note that this advice will be a recommendation only and will only be given verbally, as to our opinion based upon the current market as at the time of our inspection. If you require a formal valuation we can recommend various independent valuer’s to undertake this work with whom we will place you in touch and you will then agree formal instructions and fee arrangements directly with them.
We will not advise you in relation to any physical building issues affecting your property which may affect the sale price/rent or saleability. We can recommend experienced professionals who can carry out this service for you. Please call/email for recommendations, in order that you can obtain quotations.
For properties outside of the M25, please call or email and we will let you know if this is a property that can we assist you with or alternatively if we can make a recommendation to whom you should approach.
Much will depend on your own preferences and realistically, your personal and financial situation. Are you looking to raise funds to use elsewhere, or are you seeking an investment or differing income stream. The market is extremely active for both sales and rentals and we can talk you through the pro’s and con’s of both options dependent upon your personal preferences and circumstances.
If you are looking to raise funds to purchase a new site/building, we can also talk to you about various options for raising funds which may not involve selling your building. Please note that Bernard Gordon & Company are not a financial advisors and therefore cannot provide information or advice in this regard. You should seek advice from your existing bankers, independent financial advisors or from specialist funders for religious organisations and other organisations/ companies. You should also obtain specialist tax advice concerning funding generally in relation to your transaction.
If you are buying a property you will need to set a budget. This will largely be determined by how much cash you have in your reserves, how much your present property is worth, how much you can raise from your community/benefactors and if necessary how much you can borrow from external financial organisations. It is very important that you set a realistic budget given that you can waste an awful lot of time, effort and money in trying to secure a property which results in an abortive purchase due to lack of sufficient funds.
The same philosophy should also apply when leasing. Don’t take on more than you can afford to pay. Please remember that in addition to the rent and the costs included within the obligations in the lease, you also will have to pay rates (if applicable), service charges and vat if they are applicable.
You will need to include within your budgeting additional professional costs for solicitors and surveyors. Some properties are registered for VAT and attract VAT on sale prices and rents. You will have to pay stamp duty land tax assuming the rent level / purchase price is high enough to exceed the relevant threshold. Additionally you should also budget for moving costs, furniture, furnishings, specialist fixtures and fittings, building works, repairs, signage, communications & data services etc. There may be other costs in addition.
For solicitors and surveyors fees please ask for quotations. For questions relating to VAT always seek advice from your accountant or VAT specialist advisor
It is always vociferously recommended that you appoint a solicitor to negotiate the legalities of any transaction. Do you have all the necessary documentation regarding your existing property to give to your solicitors? Over time the location of important documents get lost or mislaid. Pre-sale preparation should give you sufficient time to locate them or alternatively deal with problems arising out of their being missing. Similarly if your organization requires documents to be signed by specific members/trustees, you should consider if they are still about and available to sign and / or approve such documents.
Do you have a firm of solicitors that handle your affairs? If you require any recommendations we will be happy to provide names of various firms who you can contact for quotations and fees.
If you wish to move matters along quickly you should engage a solicitor at an early stage, preferably before your property is marketed given that your solicitor, in addition to getting papers together, should check to anticipate any likely issues affecting the transaction.
There are a number of factors to consider when disposing of your existing building, for example:
- Do you have mandates from your organisation or members to sell or let your property
- Do you have all the necessary documentation regarding your existing property readily available
- Do you have a firm of solicitors that can handle your affairs
- Consider if you have somewhere to move to if applicable
- Check if your existing property is leasehold and that you can you assign or sub-let your property.
- Have you instructed a suitable company to handle the sale or letting.
- Check if you are moving to new premises, that you have the necessary funding arranged.
- Check what you will need to do to satisfy the Charity Commissioners obligations if applicable
Much will depend upon the individual circumstances which apply to your own situation. However, it will be a case-by-case scenario and we will help to guide you through the process to ensure as far as is possible, a smooth transition. Do not get phased initially, as we have the experience and connections to point you in the right direction, as required.
In September 2020 the commercial planning use class changed and Class D1 and D2 were revoked entirely and replaced with classes E, F1, F2 and Sui Generis, you can find further information on the link below:
Given that these changes were introduced recently, it is recommended that you seek independent professional advice regarding any specific occupational concerns. Please call us to discuss any issues that you may be concerned with, or we can recommend planning consultants who may be able to provide more detailed information and guidance.
We can assist and have consulted and worked with owners/developers on many mixed-use developments. We understand the need that in some circumstances, the community/religious use will require to be retained, where a former a former D1/D2 building is proposed to be re-developed or to change the use. We can advise generally as to specific requirements needed for each case in order to facilitate a development/change of use, to incorporate both commercial and residential uses.
In many instances, we can also approach independent parties on or off market to ensure that we have a tenant/buyer lined up upon completion.
There is no correct answer to this, it is dependent upon personal preferences and circumstances. When marketing the property, it would be carefully considered whether subject to planning offers are likely be considered in terms of time and viability. In standard commercial transactions, subject to planning offers can be deemed the best way forward, dependent upon the terms offered. This can only be considered on a case by case situation, given the the many variations that will be associated with a conditional deal. You should always seek advice from a planning consultant prior to agreeing any STP deal to ensure that you have a full understanding as to whether the planning application is likely to granted or not. If the consultant flags immediate issues, then there is no point in proceeding through the process given that it could be a waste of time and money. However, if you are advised that the process may be a possibility, then you would need to weigh up if the terms offered are acceptable enough for you to commit to a party with the possibility of no guarantee of an end result against the possibility of achieving a positive result.
STP deals are very common in the commercial property market, however with the changes to the planning use classes, some properties that previously needed a change of use, may now not.
When it comes to changing a commercial building into a residential building, or vice versa, this is a different process entirely and would need further discussion at the time of consideration.
The factors that can affect a sale or letting are far too numerous to be detailed within this sector of FAQ.’s The market for the former D1 (E/F1/F2 and Sui Generis) properties are very particular to the area where the building is located and is very much affected by such issues as the property’s condition, its location and arrangement of accommodation, access to external space, accessibility and parking availability etc. If leasehold, all of the terms of the lease including the rent payable will of course be relevant. Planning issues must also form part of the consideration.
Even additional factors such as local demographics and whether your building is on a red route or that there are double yellow lines are relevant. Given the many variable factors initial advice can only be given following an initial inspection.
Bernard Gordon & Co will provide you with an opinion as to the marketability and recommended asking price/rent. Where there is a known very high demand for a particular geographic area, Bernard Gordon & Company will advise on the best method of achieving maximum results.
Should you require a formal valuation, we can place you in touch with a number of independent professionals who may be able to assist. However be wary as to who you appoint, given that this is a very niche market and it is important to instruct to right company/individual who have an understanding and current experience specific to this sector of this market, to ensure the best results.
Ask for advice before instructing other professionals.
Much will depend upon many of the factors listed above. Even if the property is in high demand, once a deal has been agreed and placed in solicitors hands it is likely to take in the region of two months or longer. Depending on the circumstances however it is possible for a transaction to be dealt with in a very short time frame. As an example we have concluded a transaction in two weeks from the date that solicitors were instructed. In this instance the vendors had all the necessary documentation readily available, the property was vacant and the purchasers had readily available funds, knew what they were buying, had undertaken their due diligence and were in a position to exchange contracts and complete within the time frame. There are circumstances where you can arrange an attended exchange and legalities can be tied up within 24 hours (subject to negotiations), however these tend to be few and far between.
Ensuring you have together all the necessary paperwork and having instructed the solicitor in advance of marketing will assist in speeding up the transaction.
If you need to raise money, have a survey or carry out detailed inspections on all the services, prepare plans, obtain estimates any remedial works or works of improvement please allow plenty of time and ensure that your vendor is prepared to wait for you to obtain all the information that you need.
We have found that parties are willing to commit to properties up to 12 months in advance. It will of course depend on the situation of the property and tenant at the time, however in these instances we urge you to get in touch with us if there is 12 months or less remaining, so we can advise on how to proceed. Ideally we will find a suitable tenant who will commit to an agreement for lease and legally be bound to enter into a new contract immediately upon the termination of the current tenants, so you will not have an empty building.
Buying and Renting
Our advice is always, if possible, purchase/lease a building perhaps larger than you think you may require. As you can imagine, it is extremely inconvenient and time consuming moving into a property only to find out in a year or so that it is already getting too small for your congregation. Moving costs are very expensive, so think very carefully about your requirements especially if you are expanding.
In some cases, we can provide you with an estimated guide as to potential floor area required for your specific needs. We draw on past experience to offer this service, though it should be deemed as guide only and subject to relevant formal information being provided.
Absolutely, yes. We have in the past few years started offering an acquisition service where we will act for tenants and buyers instead of landlords and vendors. We understand that if this is your first voyage into the commercial property world that it can be daunting, so why not hire us to alleviate any concerns or fears. We offer a service where we will negotiate the best deal for you, and payment of our fees would only be payable upon completion of the deal, so it is hopefully a win-win for all.
Similarly, we know in our market that demand heavily outweighs supply, therefore we have various connections within the industry who offer us properties based on us finding a suitable tenant or buyer. In this instance we will introduce a property to you that you would likely not see elsewhere in the market, and then work with you to try to secure this property so you will become our client. As above, fees would only be payable upon completion of a deal, unless agreed otherwise.
Bernard Gordon & Company applies a standard range of fees for selling or letting a property. Please call for further information. All fees are exclusive of VAT.
The advice given above is not exhaustive or complete but is only given as a snap shot of what may be required. Circumstance will vary very considerably and therefore every property must be considered on a case-by-case basis. No two properties or circumstances are the same.
The comments in these FAQs are very general in nature and not a substitute for taking professional advice at the appropriate time.
We have included these FAQ’s which have been raised over many years given our specialisation in this niche sector of the property market and are included hopefully to assist you. Given the scope of this matter, we cannot address every issue. Accordingly, please note that the answers given only provide you with general information and should not be regarded as a substitute for undertaking all due diligence including valuation, survey, legal and other appropriate independent professional advice.
Bernard Gordon & Company will in most circumstances be very pleased to give advice and assistance on all matters, specifically with regard to properties having former D1 and D2 planning uses or potential to obtain these uses (now E, F1, F2 and sui generis)
In all cases, do call us to discuss your particular requirements and concerns.