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Buying a House

In order to make the process as smooth as possible there are various details and documents we will need from you.
These include:

  • Some personal identification
  • The price of the property and its location
  • Details of how you are going to pay for
    the property
  • Any special factors you would like us to take into account (such as the time of your move. Is this tied in with a new job or a change of school for your child?)
  • Name of the estate agents

 

 

You will want to know from us how much the overheads (such as stamp duty land tax, search fees etc) will be and how much our legal fees will be so that you can budget for your move. We will happily supply all this information to you and will always confirm it to you in writing. If you would like to receive a quotation by email, then please complete the contact form and send it to us.

Once we are formally instructed by you we will be able to start the process. The
various stages of the buying process are
set out below so you can keep track of where we are:

 

 

 
 
 

Verifying your identity to comply with Money Laundering Regulations
Since the coming into force of several new pieces of legislation including the Proceeds of Crime Act, it is necessary for us to verify the identity of all our clients and also to establish, where they are paying cash towards a house purchase or other transaction, where that cash has come from e.g. from the proceeds of sale of a former house, the sale of stocks and shares, an inheritance etc.

Searches
There are a number of searches connected to the purchase of a house. Some are compulsory. In all transactions we would carry out a Local Authority search (which tells us about roads, road improvement schemes, planning matters, etc) and a Drainage search (which tells us the location of drains and water mains, whether there is a public sewer running through the property, whether the water is metered). In addition, there are various other searches which we carry out depending on the type of property and its location such as Coal Mining Searches, Environmental Searches, Flood Searches and Commons Registration Searches.

Investigating the title to the property
We check the title to the property you are buying to see that the seller has good title to sell the property. We also check whether there is anything in the title which we should point out to you particularly such as restrictive covenants (these are legally binding promises not to do certain things such as not to carry on any trade or business from the property or not to make any alterations to it without consent from a third party), or rights in favour of other properties (such as a right of way, or rights of drainage).

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Approving the draft contract
The contract is a technical document which, as well as giving details of the property, the full names of the buyers and sellers and the price, also covers such things as when the risk passes for insurance purposes, the amount of the deposit and the way it is paid, what happens if completion does not take place on the contractual completion date, whether the property is being sold subject to any matters that we need to draw to your attention, etc.

Checking your mortgage offer (if applicable)
We will check through your mortgage offer to see whether there are any unusual conditions from our point of view and we will point out to you the most important aspects of the offer, such as the amount of the loan, the term of years of the loan, the initial rate of interest etc. We will also point out to you some of the main terms of the mortgage conditions.

Reporting to you with the contract for signature
When we have completed all our enquiries, you have received your mortgage offer and are ready to proceed, we will report to you in writing on the results of all the searches and enquiries we have undertaken.  We will also explain to you some of the terms of the contract.  We will also give you some general information regarding the types of property ownership (where there is more than one buyer) and information on will making and deeds of trust recording specific interests in the Property you are buying.  At that stage we will invite you to sign the contract and return it to us, where necessary, with a deposit. We suggest payment of the deposit by CHAPS or internet transfer.  These methods ensure that we have clear funds in our client account immediately upon receipt of your payment.

Agreeing a completion date
At about the same time as reporting to you with the contract for signature, we will be asking you for your thoughts on a completion date and whether you have discussed dates with your seller. Contracts cannot be exchanged until a completion date acceptable to all parties in the chain (not just you and your seller) has been agreed.

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Exchanging contracts
When contracts are exchanged (this is done between solicitors by telephone), the contract is dated and the completion date is inserted. Once contracts are exchanged there is no going back without financial loss to you. For this reason we will always check with you just before exchange of contracts that you still wish to proceed for the same completion date.

Preparing the transfer document
We will prepare the document which will transfer the title of the property to you and submit it to your seller’s solicitors for them to approve.  Once approved it will be prepared in its signature form (called an “engrossment” by lawyers) and signed by all the parties in readiness for the completion day.

Ordering your mortgage monies
At this stage we will also report with our certificate of title to your mortgage lender (where you are obtaining a mortgage). Normally the lender requires at least 5 working days (and sometimes more) notice of the completion date if we are to be absolutely sure that the funds will reach us in time to use them to complete your purchase.

Preparing a financial statement and Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return
After exchange of contracts we will also prepare a financial statement showing how much money we will need from you in order to complete your transaction.  Again we will need cleared funds and a CHAPS payment is by far the simplest method.  We will also prepare your SDLT return and send this to you to check, sign and return to us. We cannot complete unless you have signed and returned your SDLT return.  Stamp Duty Land Tax is a personal tax liability levied on you, the buyer.  The Law now requires that the details of nearly all UK property transactions be reported to the Inland Revenue on the SDLT return.

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Undertaking final searches
We will carry out searches at H M Land Registry to check that no changes have been made to the seller's title since the date of the official copy supplied to us and, where you are obtaining a mortgage, we will undertake a bankruptcy search at the Land Charges Registry to make sure that there are no pending applications against you. Should the search reveal entries against someone with a similar name to yours we will normally ask you to certify a copy of the search to the effect that the entries revealed do not relate to you.

Completing the purchase
On the day of completion (moving day) we will try to ensure that the money to complete your transaction goes into the banking system as early as possible. Where you are also selling though, there may sometimes be a delay while we wait for your buyer's money to arrive in our bank. All the monies are paid using CHAPS which is the fastest and most reliable method of funds transfer. We will ask you to contact us during the late morning to check on progress with your transaction. When the money has been received by your seller's solicitors they will notify the estate agents that they can release the keys of the house to you so that you can move in.

Paying Stamp Duty Land Tax
Following completion of the purchase we will submit your SDLT return to the Inland Revenue electronically and will send a BACS payment to cover any tax liability.  Once we have submitted the return we will receive a receipt which we must submit to HM Land Registry when registering your ownership.

Registering your title to the property
We will submit an application to HM Land Registry to register you as new proprietors of the property.  We will also register your mortgage on behalf of your mortgage lender.  In the vast majority of cases, this is completed electronically using scanned documents.  This speeds up the process and incurs a lower fee than submitting original documents through the post.

Sending you a copy of the completed registration and notifying your mortgage lender that registration has taken place
When we receive notification that the registration has been completed, first we will check the registers to make sure that all the details set out are accurate. Then we will send a copy of the title information document to you and a copy to your mortgage lender. We will ask you to check the entries on the registers as well, especially if the registration was what we call a "first registration" when we will also ask you to check carefully the plan of the property prepared by H M Land Registry. In this latter case, we will also handover to you the bundle of
'pre-registration' documents.

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