So you’re about to purchase a property? Our purchase conveyancing guide sets out the main steps in any purchase dealt with by Best Value Conveyancing. Obviously all transactions are different and your solicitor will advise you of what will happen with your individual purchase.
Purchase Conveyancing Guide
Once your offer is accepted by the sellers of the property you want to buy, the estate agent will send a memorandum of sale to all parties and their solicitors, which gives details of the seller and the buyer, property, price, solicitors etc.
You can obtain a quote for our work from our website or by telephoning us. Once you’re happy with the quote you get in touch with us and ask us to instruct a solicitor from our panel.
Your solicitor will then send a client care letter out to you, confirming the fees and other terms and conditions. You will then need to supply identification documents, as for legal reasons your solicitor has to verify who you are.
Once these documents have been supplied your solicitor or conveyancer opens a file. Obviously the sooner they have the documents the sooner they can get on with your purchase.
On opening a purchase file, your solicitor will contact the buyer’s solicitors to request contract documentation if it has not already been received. The contract documentation includes details of fixtures and fittings and the property information sheet. The answers to these questions become part of the contract.
Once your solicitor have these documents from the other side we’ll be able to give you the answer to those important questions: do you get the garden shed or is it being removed; are the lampshades which match the carpet staying; is there a long-running dispute with the neighbours over how high the hedge is?!
At the same time, your solicitor will request searches. These documents are official responses to searches of various official databases, and can tell you what the local authority knows of the property and its area (is there about to be a new road, for example), whether the property is supplied with water and drainage, and whether there is any environmental risk (is it on top of an old landfill site or chemical factory).
In some purchases there may be additional searches to undertake. You may need a mining search to establish if the house is on top of old mine workings and may suffer from subsidence, or a search to do with the HS2 route, to establish if there is radon gas, or even whether you’re under an obligation to repair the local church!
The answers to the searches are important and your conveyancing solicitor will advise you of what they uncover. It’s important that they’re undertaken to protect you and your purchase for the future.
Upon receipt of contracts from the seller’s solicitor this is checked by a qualified person to ensure that everything is legally acceptable with the property, and any necessary enquiries are raised with the seller’s solicitors. If anything has come up which is of concern your solicitor will have to query it officially.
CHECKING SEARCH RESULTS
Once the search results are received, again they are checked. Your solicitors will be looking for the following :-
Local search – this gives planning history, details of road adoption, conservation area, listed building etc. The local search result takes about one week to 10 days to be received from the relevant local authority (this varies).
Environmental Search – this is returned virtually immediately it is requested as it is done via the internet. This gives information as to environmental issues affecting the property, such as possible contamination, if the property is on a flood plain, if there are landfill sites in the area etc.
Drainage Search – this gives information as to the drains and water mains for the property and usually takes about one day to be returned.
CHECKING MORTGAGE OFFER
When a mortgage offer is received it is checked to ensure that the purchase price is correct and that any conditions are met. Your solicitor will write to you to tell you what the offer says, to ensure that you are fully aware of how much you are borrowing, the interest rates, the monthly payments and any other special conditions.
The mortgage offer can be received at any point from when a file is opened, but is often the thing that delays matters as your solicitor cannot proceed until the offer is received.
It helps if you can try to sort out your mortgage application as soon as possible so that your conveyancing is not unduly delayed.
SIGNING THE DOCUMENTS
Once any enquiries we have raised with the seller’s solicitor have been answered satisfactorily, all search results received and mortgage offer received, your solicitor is then in a position to arrange for you to sign all the documentation.
At this point in the transaction your conveyancing solicitor would also supply you with a document setting out all the financial terms including any monies which would be due from you (such as deposit funds).
Your solicitor or conveyancer will explain to you about the property (go through all the legal matters), explain the searches and the mortgage offer. You will then sign all the documentation, including the contact, mortgage deed, Transfer (which we will have drafted prior to the appointment) and Stamp Duty Land Tax form.
You can always discuss matters arising on the phone or by email.
Once all parties in the chain have signed the contracts and a completion date has been agreed, exchange can be effected. Exchange of contracts is the process by which a copy of the contract signed by the other parties (your sellers) is passed over. At this stage the transaction becomes legally binding and the responsibility for the property becomes yours. You should arrange insurance on the building prior to exchange if possible.
This stage can sometimes take a while to be achieved, as everyone in the chain has to get to this point before contacts can be exchanged, and the person at the bottom of the chain also has to have paid their deposit to their solicitor and those monies must be cleared funds. A rough estimate of time from opening a file to exchange is 4 – 6 weeks. This can be done quicker in some circumstances but it does require all parties and all solicitors to co-operate.
It can also be difficult sometimes reaching agreement as to completion date!
Exchange is done over the telephone by the solicitors in the chain, and everyone in the chain exchanges on the same date and will complete on the same date. Ideally, exchange will be about a week prior to completion but this can be shorter and you can exchange and complete on the same date.
REQUESTING FUNDS AND UNDERTAKING PRE-COMPLETION SEARCHES
Once a completion date has been agreed by all parties, mortgage funds will be requested from your lender. Most lenders require about 5 to 7 working days notice to obtain the funds.
Ideally funds are requested following exchange once the completion date is fixed. However, if there is going to be little time between exchange and completion, funds can be requested before exchange.
Your solicitor will also do two further searches at this stage, one with the Land Registry to check that no entries have been made at the Land Registry since we obtained contract documents (the OS1 search – making sure there are no new mortgages on the property) and one with Land Charges to ensure you are not bankrupt! The results take a couple of days to be received, but can be done over the telephone with instant results.
This is the day you have been waiting for! You finally get to move to your new home!
On the day of completion, the mortgage funds will be sent to your solicitor by your lender and (if you have a related sale) the sale monies from the solicitor acting for your buyer.
Prior to completion it’s also necessary for you to supply your solicitor with any funds they need to settle any outstanding amounts, and pay your Stamp Duty Land Tax charge.
Once the monies are received, your conveyancing solicitor can then send them out to the seller’s solicitor. Completion will take place once the seller’s solicitor receives the money. Due to the unpredictability of the electronic banking system in this country, money can take anything from 20 minutes to 4 hours to be received once it has been sent from the solicitor's account as the banks only guarantee it will be received on the same day!
Once the seller’s solicitors have received the money, completion has taken place, ownership of the property transfers to you and you can move in, after having collected the key from the estate agent.
Hopefully by now you’re safely into your new house and getting on with sorting out the boxes.
There’s still some legal work to be done. Following completion, your solicitor will pay the Stamp Duty (now called Land Tax) on your purchase.
Your solicitor will complete the Land Transaction Return and send it to HM Revenue and Customs, who then provide them with a Certificate. This has to be paid within 28 days of completion otherwise HMRC imposes a financial penalty of £100. There is a small fee for undertaking this important task.
Your solicitor will also register you as the new owners at HM Land Registry. This has to be done within 2 months of completion but we cannot apply for registration until we have the Land Tax Certificate, and proof that any previous mortgage has been repaid (this will come from the seller’s solicitor once they have redeemed their client’s mortgage).
Once the property has been registered in your name, your solicitor then sends the title deeds to the lender (if they require them) and any remaining documents are sent to you for safe keeping.
After that it’s down to you to look after the house and make it your own!
Best Value Conveyancing is committed to helping you through the conveyancing process in the easiest way possible. We’re dedicated to providing you with a quality service for a great price.
We hope you find our purchase conveyancing guide useful. Call us for a Best Value Conveyancing quote today on 0800 038 7007!