A guide to buying a property

What happens after your offer is accepted through to collecting the keys to your new home.

Using a qualified conveyancing lawyer ensures your purchase progresses smoothly, avoiding pitfalls that can occur along the way. We question the seller’s lawyer and liaise with your mortgage provider to assess the conditions on your mortgage offer.  We can look out for problems, actual or potential, with the property and any associated leases.

Legal searches are carried out to find out more about the property. Some are standard whilst others may be wanted by the mortgage lender.

Typical searches include:

  • Local Authority: including information on roadways, planning and building regulation applications and more
  • Land Registry: ensuring the seller is the legal owner and entitled to sell the property
  • Water Authority: how you get your water and if any public drains on the property might affect extensions or building works
  • Chancel Repair: checking for potential leftover medieval liabilities to help pay for church repairs
  • Environmental: information about contaminated land at, or near, the property. Such as landfill, industry, flood risks, radon gas hazard and ground stability
  • Optional and location specific: extra searches may be required depending on the location or type of property or due to particular concerns you may have

Buying with a mortgage

Your mortgage lender will usually carry out a valuation during the conveyancing process to ensure that the property provides enough security for the loan.  They may also request other surveys are carried out, this will depend on your specific circumstances.

Before exchange of contracts can take place, your lender will require you to get buildings insurance for your new home.  You are responsible for the property as soon as contracts have been exchanged, so it’s in your interest to protect yourself.

Signing contracts

Before signing the contract we will ensure;

  • that all enquiries have been returned and are satisfactory
  • that fixtures and fittings included in the purchase are what you expected
  • a completion date has been agreed, usually 1-4 weeks from exchange of contracts
  • that arrangements have been made to transfer the deposit (typically 10%) so that it is cleared in time for an exchange

We will write to your seller’s lawyer requesting a copy of the draft contract and any other details, such as the property’s titles and the standard forms.

Exchanging contracts

You and the seller will agree on a date and time to exchange contracts.

If you are in a chain, we will do the same thing with your buyer’s lawyer, but only if the other people in the chain are happy to go ahead.  This means if one person pulls out or delays, then everyone in the chain gets held up.

Once you have exchanged contracts you will be in a legally binding contract to buy the property with a fixed date for moving.  This means that;

  • if you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit and owe the seller more if the deposit is less than 10%
  • the seller has to sell or you can sue them
  • the seller can no longer accept another offer

We recommend you go to the property with the fixtures and fittings inventory list prior to exchanging contracts to ensure that everything you paid for is still there and the house has not been damaged in any way.

On completion day

Completion is normally set around midday on the specified date, although in practice takes places when the seller’s lawyer confirm that have received all the money that is due.  Once this happens the seller should drop the keys at the estate agents for your collection and vacate the property.  This means that the conveyancing process is over, you own the property and can move in.

We will manage all of the financial aspects of completion, including the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf if it’s applicable to the purchase.

After completion

To complete the process;

  • you will receive your legal documents once the Land Registry have completed your application for registration as the new owner
  • a copy of the title deeds will be sent to your mortgage lender
  • if the property is leasehold, the freeholder will be notified

We recommend you collect together all of your paperwork from your purchase of your new home, including the estate agent’s brochure, to file away and keep safe for when you move again.

We usually retain any title deeds and documents in our strong room for safekeeping which can be accessed at any time by you and ultimately can be retrieved when you come to sell the property in the future.

Need help? Call us on 01803 403403 for a free, confidential discussion with one of our team or get in touch online.