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To purchase a house is a complicated procedure which needs an expert. They will carry out the administration and legal part needed to buy a home. The work they carry out is called conveyancing and to understand it we have created this guide.
The process can be divided into three stages which we have outlined below:
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Make an Offer
Find a property that you wish to purchase and put in an offer. Once your offer has been accepted provide the seller with details of your conveyancer. In return the seller will provide details of theirs.
The property solicitor that you have instructed will contract the solicitor handling the sale. They will send a copy of the draft contact of the contract for them to inspect and approve. This contact will provide information about the price, buyer and seller details, full information of the terms and an inventory. It will also contact detail about the title-deed of the property.
Your conveyancer will raise any questions or queries about the contact and other concerns. You will receive a list of what has been raised along with a draft copy of the contract. This is for you to examine and make certain that all the information is correct.
The standard enquiries that are raised are by a purchaser conveyance are as follows:
Boundaries: This is to find out the exact boundaries for the property along with who is responsible for maintaining them. It is vital to check this information so that no arguments erupt with your neighbours. You will want to know that you have not been misled by the owner pretending that there is more land included than is.
Disputes: This search looks into see if any disputes are on the property. This can be arguments with bad neighbours etc.
Planning Permissions and Constraints: If the property has had any alterations or extensions this is to check that it was carried out correctly. This is done by making sure that they met planning regulations and were given the right type of consent. The same is carried out to check the planning permissions if any have been taken out.
Right of Way: This search is to check the property does not a public footpath, right of way or shared rights. You do not want to move into a new home to discover that you have to share your drive or garden with your neighbours.
Restrictive Covenants: This search checks the deeds to the property to examine if anything is forbidden. There are usually convents on leasehold properties such as no works vehicles, pets, decorating the outside of the property etc.
Insurance and Guarantees: This looks into if the property has any guaranteed to insurances such as a NHBC or developers guaranteed.
Services: This is a check to see if the property is properly connected with all of the utilities. It will look into how it is connected and where it is accessible.
Fixtures and Fittings: Your solicitor will check all of the items that are to stay to ensure that you have fully understood what is included. If something is not included which you though was you solicitor will try to negotiate on your behalf to get them included.
Managing Agent: For leasehold properties the solicitor will look into details of the agent managing the property. They will also check to see who the freeholder is along with ensuring that the sellers’ service and ground rent payments are up to date.
If you have any concerns about the property you should raise them with your solicitor. They will then contact the seller’s solicitor to raise your concerns. Do not exchange or complete on a property until you are fully satisfied with all the answers to your questions.
Searches are an integral part of the conveyance process. Without carrying out searches on the property you will not be able to complete. The searches verify the details of the owner and make sure that the correct legal documentation is correct.
Local Authority Searches
The local authority which covers the area for the property will be contacted by your solicitor. This is to investigate if any plans are going to have an impact on the value to the property. The local authority will be able to inform your solicitor if there are any development plans in the area. If there are further investigate will be carried out to establish what is going to be built/developed.
Depending where the property is and what type it is additional searches may be needed. If for instance the property is by water, the flood risk will have to be looked into. For new build property there are a set of standard searches which need to be done. An example is to check that the sewage is connected to the property.
Some searches take longer than others to come back. If you are in a rush to get the property completed you need to pay for these searches as soon as possible. That way they can be sent off for straight away and save time.
Your conveyancer will send to the seller’s solicitor any changes that are needed on the contact. Once negotiation and alterations have been finalized a completion date will be set.
In order for the draft contact to be finalized there is a great deal of correspondence between sales and purchaser conveyancers. This process can take time depending on how fast the solicitors communicate. You need to inform your property solicitor about agreements that have been made with the person selling the house. This way it can be included in the contact so that it is legally binding.
Once everything has been agreed a completion date will be agree upon by both parties. This will happen before exchange of contacts takes place. The average time between exchange and completion is two weeks. It is possible to carry this out simultaneously if desired rather than having to wait. If the property sale is part of a chain, all the parties involved will have to agree a set completion date.
If you are taking out a mortgage to purchase the property you will get a formal offer once agreed. The mortgage deeds will need to be signed to finalize this.
In order for a formal mortgage offer to be granted a number of things need to take place first. All of the searches will of have to come back positive and showing no problems. The survey of the property needs to show that the valuation is correct along with no foreseen problems. If any issues to arise from these, they must be addressed first before a mortgage can be approved.
In order to exchange contacts the following must be in order first:
- Survey and valuation carried out and received by your conveyancer with no problems.
- Formal offer from the mortgage lender
- Deposit money for exchange transferred into solicitors escrow account.
- Insurance arranged for property and life which are to commence on completion.
- The date of completion agreed by all parties.
- All terms and condition of the sales contact agreed by both parties.
Once everything has been agreed by both parties exchange of contacts can take place. This happens though a copy of the sales contact been signed by both the seller and purchaser. When this has taken place you are legally bound to go ahead with the purchase. If you do pull out once this has taken place you will lose the deposit you paid. It is also possible that the seller could take you to court because you breached the contact agreement. This exchange does protect you from been gazumped by another possible buyer.
Once you have exchanged contacts your conveyancer will then prepare a draft document for the legal transfer of ownership. This draft copy will be sent to the seller’s solicitor to be approved. Once agreed it is to be signed by both parties.
The finalisation of the transaction then takes place with your conveyancer getting you to sign the documents for the mortgage. Once the documents are signed they will arrange with the lender the mortgage money to be transferred for completion. If any outstanding enquiries or searches are still outstanding the solicitor will chase these. Completion can only happen once everything has been answered to yours and their satisfaction.
One final check which is carried out is the Land Registry. This is checked to see if the seller has anything registered against the property. They will also check that it was previously register correctly and there are no problems such as disputes or undisclosed mortgages.
Before you complete you will have to make payments for searches, stamp duty and land registry fees. All of the documents will need to be signed by the purchasers and returned to the solicitor. If there was any repair work needed to be carried out or other alterations, you need to check that these have been done. This will save you from any hidden surprises on completion date.
On the completion date that has been agreed you will receive a set of the key and the seller will move out. The balance of the monies owed is transferred to the seller’s solicitor. Once the money has been confirmed that the money has hit their account this is when you can get the keys.
You will get the title deeds to the property and a copy of the transfer document. If the seller has a mortgage that is on the property this is paid off in full.
You will be required to pay the solicitor fees, land registry costs and stamp duty.
Once completion has taken place your house conveyancer will inform the relevant parties of this. They include the life insurance company, mortgage lender and if leasehold the freeholder of the property.
They will deal with the Land Registry so that you are registered as the new owner of the property. The deeds will be sent to the mortgage lender and they will keep hold of them. They will keep these until the mortgage is paid off or property is sold.
You will be sent a completion statement which will give a breakdown of all financial costs.