The Buying Process
1. Purchase Agreed
Once you have instructed us we must wait to receive the pre-contract package from the seller’s solicitor. Following receipt of this, we can apply for the local authority search, and any other necessary searches. (This can take up to four weeks).
We will raise any additional enquiries and await the replies. We will also await the search results and your mortgage offer, and follow any special instructions from the lender.
2. Exchange of Contracts
Once we are satisfied that everything is OK we will prepare a property report and send it to you.
You will then be asked to sign the contract and mortgage deed and provide a deposit. (Completion dates will be agreed at this stage). We can then exchange contracts with the seller’s solicitor. The sale is now legally binding.
Once contracts have exchanged we can prepare the final accounts.
Final searches are then made against the property and you.
On the completion date we will hand over the balance of the funds and receive in return the title deeds from the seller’s solicitors.
If applicable, stamp duty is paid, and we will arrange to register the transfer at the Land Registry. Once the title is registered we will supply a copy to you and send the original document to your lender.
The Selling Process
1. Sale Agreed
Once you have instructed us, we will obtain your title deeds and Land Registry copies. You will then be asked to complete a ‘Property Information Form’ and a ‘Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form.’ If the property is leasehold there will be an additional form.
We will also ask you to give us any guarantees or other documents not held with your title deeds e.g. damp and timber reports, planning consents for alterations and extensions etc.
The draft contract will be prepared and sent to the buyer’s solicitors, who will then carry out various searches – this may take up to four weeks. We must answer any queries they may have with your help. Once these queries have been answered you will be asked to sign the contract.
2. Exchange of Contracts
Once everything is agreed (including completion date) and the contract is signed we can proceed to exchange contracts. At this stage the sale becomes legally binding. The Buyer’s solicitors will send a deposit to us.
We will approve the transfer deed and ask you to sign it. We will also apply for any mortgage redemption figure and prepare the final accounts.
On the completion date we will receive the balance of the sale price, in return for which we will hand over the title deeds to the buyer’s solicitors.
We will redeem (pay off) any mortgage out of the sale proceeds, collect our legal fees and disbursements and will forward any left over money to you, unless you are using it for a related purchase.
Not too sure of the process of Coveyance? Our Glossary of terms will guide you. Below is a list of the terms you are likely to come across when buying, selling or re-mortgaging
This is the date that ownership of the property passes from the seller to the buyer.
The seller and buyer should discuss dates between themselves and then notify their respective solicitors who will try to fit in with the suggested date. If there are unforeseen delays, for example, if the buyer does not receive a search or mortgage offer in time, or the “cash buyer” turns out to have a related sale then the completion date may have to be revised. For these reasons you should contact us before making any firm commitments such as giving notice on a job, arranging removals or booking a holiday so that we can advise you of the situation.
Only when contracts are exchanged and a completion date is fixed can you be virtually guaranteed that the completion date will be met. It is not essential for you to be present on the completion date but if you are going to be away, then you should let us know so that we can arrange for one of your relatives or ourselves to act for you through a Power of Attorney.
This is the agreement between the buyer and the seller. It sets out the main terms of what has been agreed such as the property, the price and the names of the parties. It also deals with the process if something goes wrong. Rather than making the buyer and the seller meet to sign the same contract, the seller’s solicitor draws up two copies of the same contract, and each party signs their own copy. When both parties are ready to legally commit, the two contracts are exchanged.
Coal Mining Survey
If you are proposing to buy a property that was built in an area where coal mining formerly took place you will need to have a Coal Mining Survey. This will make you aware of any known workings, the presence of which will profoundly effect the purchase price and the cost of building insurance.
This causes a lot of confusion. When most people talk about the deposit they mean the part of the purchase price that the buyer is putting down him/herself (i.e. usually the difference between the amount of the mortgage and the purchase price). When Solicitors talk about the deposit they are talking about the money that is handed over to the seller’s Solicitors upon exchange of contracts. This might be the same amount, but it might not.
On exchange of contracts the seller can insist on receiving from the buyer a 10% deposit of the purchase price. However as many people are not contributing as much as 10% to the purchase, reduced deposits are often agreed. You should be aware, however, that if you are a buyer and you pay a reduced deposit then fail to complete the purchase through no fault of the seller, you will, under the terms of the contract, be required to make the deposit up to the full 10%. You may also have to pay compensation to the seller if the seller loses out through your failure to complete.
When the contracts are exchanged, the matter becomes binding. From that moment on, the seller must sell, the buyer must buy, it must be done at the price stated in the contract.
Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form
This is a list of the items at the property which are either included or excluded from the agreed price. This form is completed at an early stage by the seller and sent to the buyer, so that both parties understand what is included in the selling price. If you are the seller, when you let us have the form we will send you a copy back so that you know what you have agreed on it. If you are the buyer we send you a copy of the form as soon as it is received by ourselves from the sellers solicitors so that any difficulties can be resolved at an early stage.
Freehold or Leasehold
If the property is a house set in its own grounds, the tenure would normally be freehold, meaning that ownership of the property includes the land, and no further factors apply.
Indemnity insurance is taken out by all Solicitors to cover losses to clients arising from errors or fraud in dealing with their matters.
TheLawPrcticeLtd.com is required by the Law Society to pay for this insurance in respect of every transaction. We do not recover the premium from our clients.
Land Charge Search Fee
This is an additional charge made to find out who owns the land. The charge made is £1 per person named on the deed.
This is the fee charged by the Land Registry to register the new owner of a property. An additional fee may be payable on the purchase of a new lease.
Landlord’s Registration Fee
For leasehold properties a fee payable to the freeholder/management company for notifying a change of owner.
If the property is a flat, the property is almost certainly held in tenure of a lease. That is the ownership reverts to the owners of the freehold after a specified number of years. Leaseholders may incur other costs on a regular basis, such as maintenance and ground rent.
This is a fixed cost that covers the cost of the time The Law Practice.com spend on your conveyancing.
If the sale or purchase does not complete then we will not charge you any legal fees, only the disbursements we have incurred (searches, post, copying etc).
Local Authority Search
This is a list of questions about the property, which are sent to the local authority. It covers such items as, whether the road serving the property should be maintained by the council, whether there have been any planning applications on the property, and a number of other things.
The search is against the property only and does not cover the surrounding area. A word of warning – the search will not show any Planning Permissions or matters affecting land or buildings outside the boundaries of the property. It is important that you let us know at the start of the transaction if you require information on any particular point or if you wish us to ask any particular questions of the local authority. We would not normally advise a buyer to exchange contracts without a satisfactory local authority search.
HM Land Registry Search Fee
This is a charge made for searching though the records of the property to establish it’s ownership history.
This is a loan to help you buy the house. The mortgage is ‘attached’ to your title deeds, and means that you cannot sell the property without paying it off at the same time.
Contracts should not be exchanged until an acceptable written mortgage offer has been received. It is not enough that you have had verbal confirmation from you bank or building society that they will grant you a mortgage.
In many cases a mortgage may be supported by an endowment, pension or mortgage protection policy and in these circumstances we must confirm to the lender before exchange of contracts that whether there are existing policies or arrangements have been made for new policies to be brought into effect immediately contracts are exchanged.
If you are selling, we will contact your mortgage lender at an early stage to ask how much it will cost to pay off the mortgage – we will send you a copy of this figure. You may find that you will be charged a financial penalty if you pay the mortgage off early. This is a consideration to be taken into account when agreeing a completion date, and often applies when your existing mortgage was set up on a fixed rate, or you obtained a ‘cashback’ figure.
The legal charge of the property to the mortgage lender until such time as the loan is repaid.
These fees are normally charged for acting on behalf of your bank or building society.
We do not charge an additional fee for acting on behalf of your bank or building society.
Property Information Form
This is a questionnaire about the property completed by the sellers. It covers such items as guarantees, neighbour disputes and boundaries.
If you are buying then time can be saved if you tell us at an early stage if there are any particular points about the property that concern you. We can then ask the seller’s solicitors the relevant questions.
If you are selling and the buyer’s solicitor asks a question to which you do not wish to give an answer to, for whatever reason, it is essential that you discuss it with us. Failure to disclose information could give the buyer grounds for taking action against you.
The final payment of a mortgage loan.
Penalty sometimes incurred if paying off a mortgage early.
We do not charge an additional fee to redeem (pay off) your existing mortgage.
This is a tax on financial transactions over £60,000. It applies when you buy a home or shares.
Stamp Duty for homebuyers varies from 1% to 5% according to the price of the property. Additional duty may be payable on the purchase of a new lease. The tax applies to the entire purchase price of the property not to the balance, which is above the threshold.
- 1% is charged on properties over £60,000 and less than £250,000
- 3% is applied to properties costing between £250,000 and £500,000
- 4% is applied to properties costing more than £500,000
This tax is paid to the Inland Revenue and is sorted out by your solicitor as part of the normal conveyancing process.
This is a report carried out by a surveyor on the physical state of the property you are buying.
If you are buying a property you should be aware that the property is “sold as seen”. It is for you, as the buyer, to discover any physical defects by means of inspections and surveys.
Most houses are bought with the assistance of a mortgage and the bank or building society, will require a mortgage valuation. However, this is not a survey – it merely ensures that they property is of sufficient value to protect the lender’s interest. Our advice is that you should at least have an RICS Homebuyer’s Report prepared by a qualified surveyor. This will cost more than a mortgage valuation but it is advisable. It is possible to go one step further and have a full structural survey (initially you should not chose this option unless the surveyor who carries out the Homebuyer’s Report thinks any matter should be investigated further).
These documents firstly act as evidence that the person selling the property actually owns it, and secondly set out any rights or obligations that affect the property.
If you are selling, then valuable time can be saved if your title deeds can be obtained by us at an early stage. If you have a mortgage then your bank or building society will be holding your title deeds. We will need to know your mortgage account number and the name and address of the lender. Some lenders charge a fee to send out your deeds but this will normally be added to your mortgage account.
This is the document that passes the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.
It is dated with the completion date, and will be sent to the Land Registry after completion. The Land Registry need this deed to change their records, and show the buyer as the new owner of the property.
Water Authority Search (Drainage)
This is the average cost of a drainage search of the local water authority.