Whether your buying your first home or are already a pro, we here is some information to assist you.
Buying a house
The following information is intended to provide a brief summary of the key steps involved in the conveyancing process, and give guidance on matters which arise in conveyancing transactions. If you require any further explanation on any points raised, or any other legal aspect of moving home please do not hesitate to contact us.
Acceptance of your offer
Once the estate agents have confirmed that your offer has been accepted they will ask for details of your solicitor. The estate agent will then issue the memorandum of sale which gives details of the agreed terms of the sale and solicitor contact details.
We will provide you with a formal quotation letter and questionnaire forms to complete for us. We apologise for the intrusive nature of some of the questions but when we act for you in buying a property we also act on behalf of your mortgage lender. There are requirements that we must satisfy for the mortgage lender and a number of the questions on the forms relate to our obligations to the mortgage lender.
If you have applied for a mortgage you should provide your financial advisor or mortgage lender with our contact details so that the mortgage lender can send us a copy of the mortgage offer.
We must receive a copy of the mortgage offer from the mortgage lender before contracts can be exchanged. You should check your mortgage requirements, and your mortgage offer, very carefully and take up any queries with your mortgage lender.
Unless you tell us otherwise, we shall assume that the mortgage offer meets your requirements.
Valuation and Survey
If you are obtaining a mortgage, a physical inspection of the property will be carried out by a surveyor or valuer acting on behalf of the mortgage lender, and involves no more than a valuation of the property with no detailed inspection being carried out of the fabric of the property. Check with your mortgage lender exactly what is covered by the valuation report when you pay your mortgage application fee.
There may be defects in the property which are not revealed by the inspection carried out by the mortgage lender’s valuer and there may be omissions and inaccuracies in the report which do not matter to the mortgage lender but which would matter to you. The report should not be relied on in deciding whether to proceed with the purchase.
A more detailed report can be carried out by a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This is known as a Homebuyer’s Report. The report costs a little more than the mortgage lender’s valuation report. We will be happy to advise you of approximate cost, and put you on touch with a suitable local surveyor.
A building survey involves a much more rigorous inspection of the property and of course costs a lot more. This type of survey may be necessary where the property is particularly old, or has in the past been affected by problems such as subsidence.
The seller’s solicitor sends the contract, copy title documents and questionnaire forms to the buyer’s solicitor. The paperwork is checked and relevant legal enquires are raised with the seller’s solicitor.
We will obtain the results of various searches as part of the conveyancing process.
A local search reveals important information about the property held by the local authority. The local authority is asked to reply to a long list of questions which reveal matters such as road improvement proposals affecting the property, planning and building regulation matters, breaches of planning which are currently subject to enforcement and tree preservation orders.
A drainage search shows whether a property is connected to the mains water supply and mains drainage.
An environmental search can be used to establish the risk of land being contaminated, by collating information from regulatory bodies, floodplain data and a review of current and historic land uses.
Exchange of contracts
Once the paperwork is ready, and when everyone in the chain has reached the same stage, contracts can be exchanged. Only then do you, and your seller, become legally bound to the deal. The moving date, known as “completion” is fixed when contracts are exchanged.
Buildings insurance should be in place from exchange of contracts.
If you are not selling another house simultaneously, a deposit, normally 10% of the purchase price is paid at this stage. We do require cleared deposit funds to enable us to exchange contracts.
If you are selling and buying, do not worry about being homeless, or ending up with two houses! We ensure that both transactions proceed together.
In between exchange and completion we will request the mortgage advance from the mortgage lender. We shall prepare and send to you a completion statement showing the amount required from you to complete the purchase.
On the day of completion, the balance of the purchase price is transferred to the seller’s solicitor. We deal with all paperwork and payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax (if applicable), leaving you to arrange the hand over of keys and move house.
After completion we will apply to register the ownership of the property at Land Registry. The registration process can often take several months. Once this has been completed, if you have a mortgage and the mortgage lender retains title documents, the documentation will be forwarded to the mortgage lender. Otherwise title documents will be sent to you for safekeeping.
The first legal steps
The sellers solicitors will send the questionnaire forms, the draft contact and a copy of the title documents to us for inspection.
At this stage any relevant queries you have or enquires we have will be made.
We will obtain the results of various searches as part of the conveyancing process. A local search reveals important information about the property held by the local authority. This will reveal matters such as road improvement proposals, planning and building regulation matters, tree preservation orders and other such information.
The drainage search shows whether a property is connected to the mains water supply and mains drainage and the environmental search can be used to establish the risk of land being contaminated, flood plain data and current and historical land uses.
Once all the paperwork is compete and everyone in he chain has reached the same stage, contracts can be exchanged.
Buildings insurance should be put in place, and your deposit will be required.
At this point you become legally bound to the deal and you will agree the date you can move into your new home.
If you are buying and selling at the same time don’t panic!
We will ensure that the transactions happen simultaneously so that you do not end up homeless or owning two houses!
Your mortgage advance will now be requested and we will prepare completion statements for you.
On the day of completion the balance of the purchase price is transferred to the sellers solicitors. We will deal with all the paperwork and pay any fees leaving you to collect your keys and move house.
We will register the new ownership of the property at the Land Registry. This can take several months. Once its completed and if you have a mortgage company they will retain the title documentation, otherwise they will be sent to you for safe keeping.
You will often find that the estate agents will put forward a suggested moving date. You should not rely on this, and its wise to not finalise any removals etc until exchange of contracts.
Prepare a budget! For example remember to budget for Stamp Duty Land Tax your new mortgage payments, removal men, packing materials etc
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