There are different things to consider when you are buying, selling or re-mortgaging your property. Quite often, it can be rather overwhelming particularly where the transaction is not exactly straightforward and the terminologies and processes all become a tangled web. It doesn’t matter if you are a first buyer hoping to benefit from the government’s help to buy scheme, someone moving up the ladder or if you’re adding to your property portfolio, we are here to untangle the web for you. To help ease common worries and avoid frustration, I have set out answers to some of the general questions our clients ask below:
Q: How long will it take?
A: This is a very common question and depends on how long the chain is and the circumstances involved. Since every transaction is different, it would help if you sent us an e-mail with the specific details of your transaction and we will be better placed to give you a bespoke answer to your questions.
Q: I am a First Time Buyer, I’m not sure what a ‘chain’ is.
A: A chain is where there are a number of sale and purchase transactions which are interlinked and rely on each other to proceed. A person selling their property may have a related purchase, they will have a buyer for their sale and a seller for their purchase, their seller and buyer may also have a seller and buyer and so on which then creates a domino effect. Should one party in the ‘chain’ of transactions result in not being able to proceed for any reason, this then affects the whole chain which adds to the stress of selling and buying. If this happens, the ‘chain’ would not be able to continue until a new buyer/seller is found to replace the missing link in the ‘chain’.
Q: What do I need to do to instruct Solicitors and how much does it cost?
A: We will provide you with an estimate of costs and an instruction form. If you are happy to proceed, you will need to complete the instruction form and we will then open up a file for you to start working on your instructions.
Q: What are Searches and do I have to have these carried out?
A: The main searches we carry out are Local Search, Drainage & Water Search and Environmental Search. They are mandatory if you are financing your property with a mortgage. The enquiries of the Local Search are enquiries which have been raised with the Local Authority and relate specifically to the property you intend purchasing and will detail any works carried out under planning permission and building regulations, if the road is adopted, whether there are proposals for road widening or traffic schemes, whether the property is listed or in a conservation area etc. The Drainage & Water Search will reveal whether the mains water is connected and whether foul water and surface water drains to the public sewers. The Environmental Search result will reveal any environmental matters such as contamination, flood, subsidence or radon gas risk. There are other searches available which we can carry out if deemed necessary, such as a Flood report, Coal Mining search, Planning search, Chancel, Wind Turbine.
Q: I can’t find my title deeds, what do I do?
A: Most property ownership is logged electronically at the Land Registry which has been compulsory for some time now and therefore we simply order and download a paper version of the title documents from the Land Registry. There are however still pockets of unregistered properties dotted over various parts of the country. We would need to consider having these reconstituted, a process we would be happy to take up with the Land Registry on your behalf.
Q: We are buying jointly and I will be putting significantly more money into the purchase. How can I protect my interests if we went our separate ways?
A: Each case is different and will be considered upon its own set of circumstances. We would recommend that you enter into a Declaration of Trust Deed to protect your investment in the event of a sale or if you were to go your separate ways.
Q: Will I have to pay your fees in advance?
A: If you are purchasing a property, we will require a payment of £200 initially to cover the cost of the local searches. Thereafter, if we need a deposit from you in addition to the mortgage advance, payment of cleared funds will be required before we exchange contracts. Additional funds required for payment of Stamp Duty for instance and the balance of our professional fees will need to be paid into our client account a few days prior to completion to avoid any dreaded banking delays which can happen from time to time.
Q: Will you pay my stamp duty?
A: Yes, we will pay your stamp duty upon completion and will confirm the amount you are liable to pay beforehand in a completion statement.
Q: What is the difference between exchange and completion?
A: Exchange of Contracts takes place once all matters with the parties involved and their Solicitors have been satisfactorily dealt with and are in a position to proceed. Once contracts are exchanged, both parties will be legally bound to complete on the date that has been agreed. Completion is when all the funds are transferred from the buyer’s solicitors to the seller’s and the keys to the property are thereafter handed over. We will telephone you with the good news on completion.
This is not an exhaustive list but it highlights some of the main points our clients inquire about. For answers tailored to your specific circumstance, please do not hesitate to contact me via email or telephone.