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Buying a property
Buying a property is one of the biggest decisions we will make in our lifetime, so it is important you understand the steps involved towards your dream home. There are three main stages along the way; information gathering, exchange and completion. Exchanging of contract means exactly that; the solicitors confirm that the buyers and sellers are legally bound to complete contracts, and completion is when the final purchase amount is paid and you can move into your new home!
We have years of experience in helping people move, and here we set out a brief summary of the typical stages once you have found the property you wish to buy.
One important consideration, before buying a property, is understanding the financial commitment you will be making and what you should budget for.
Stage 1 – Information Gathering
The first thing that we will do as your conveyancer is to take all the details about the property, and about your financial arrangements. Due to Anti Money Laundering legislation we will need to seek financial statements in respect of monies you are putting towards the purchase including any gifts of monies provided by a third party such as a family member. We will also contact your estate agents and the solicitors acting for the seller asking for the contract paperwork. Our job is to obtain all the technical and non-technical information about the property as soon as possible and to advise you on what this means for you. This includes the contract, property information forms, title deed information, searches and a fixtures and fittings contents list. In some cases other information needs to be gathered such as leasehold information, details of planning permissions, building regulation consents and guarantees.
You will receive several reports prior to exchange on the contract and title, your mortgage offer and the searches. Included in these reports will be copies of the documents that you have to sign. We will, of course, not exchange contracts or bind you into any legal agreement, without your approval.
Generally we will receive a copy of your mortgage offer a couple of days after it is sent to you. We will check to ensure that there are no conditions that cannot be satisfied prior to completion of your purchase, as an outstanding condition could mean that the mortgage lender refuses to release the monies.
We would always recommend having a survey completed on the house you wish to buy to identify any issues with the property, which may help you negotiate on price. You can find out about the relevant surveys here.
Stage 2 – Exchanging Contracts
Prior to exchange, we will have reported to you on all aspects of your transaction and dealt with any queries that you may want to raise. You will have signed the contract, transfer and mortgage deed and provided us with your deposit for exchange (unless you are selling a property also, in which case we will use the deposit supplied by your buyer).
We will explain any points that have arisen and give you practical guidance on how we hope to proceed to meet your expectations as to completion (i.e. the date that you move in). You will need to bear in mind that when there are many people in the purchase chain there is quite a lot of negotiation going on with regard to agreeing an actual day.
Once everyone in the chain is ready we will telephone you for your authority to exchange. It is when we exchange contracts that you are bound to proceed, as are the sellers. Since, at that point in time, you have agreed to pay a very large sum of money for a property we need to be sure that:
- you are absolutely satisfied with the property and its condition and you have understood our advice to you
- your finances
- the moving date.
Generally, exchanging contracts is achieved by us over the telephone; we will always tell you as soon as we have exchanged.
Stage 3 – Completion
You can see that the critical step is exchange of contracts. There is usually a minimum period of 5 working days between exchange of contracts and completion but it can be up to one month or more, all depending on your own circumstances and that of others in the chain.
During this time we will get any mortgage monies from your lender, make final searches (which have a limited life span), and prepare a financial statement showing the monies required to complete. We will collect these monies from you so they are cleared in our bank the day before completion, to prevent any delay to you moving in on the completion date.
On the day of completion we will electronically transfer the monies to the account of the seller’s solicitor and they will telephone the estate agents to tell them that they can release the keys to you, usually around lunchtime on the day of completion. As soon as you have moved in we believe it would be prudent to have the locks changed.
Stamp Duty Land Tax is paid immediately after completion has taken place to avoid delay and potential penalties. Due to the current coronavirus pandemic, it was announced on 8th July 2020, that Stamp Duty is not payable on properties valued at less than £500,000; a temporary change in place from 8th July until 31st March 2021.
After that you move in, unpack and relax! We deal with the production of documents to the Inland Revenue and registration of your title at the Land Registry. Once the registration is complete we will send you a copy of your deeds showing you as the registered owner.
NOTE: The above is only a general guide; please feel free to ask us if you have any queries on the above. Our aim is to make the process of moving as hassle free as possible. It is, after all, a very stressful time and paying attention to your concerns is one way of us helping to reduce that stress.
If you are wondering how long the process takes to buy your dream home, then let us answer the question for you in our video:
During the coronavirus pandemic, the majority of our teams are working from home in line with Government guidance. If you are not able to contact a member of the team using the phone numbers below on your first attempt, please email us at email@example.com, use our contact form to the top right of this page or use our estimate calculator if you would like more details on our fees.
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