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The Buying Process

A Guide To Moving Home

The first step is to find a solicitor or conveyancer. You need to instruct a solicitor who you have confidence in and who can explain the procedures to you to ensure that you fully understand what is involved.

When you have chosen your solicitor and have had your first meeting, your solicitor will discuss the main steps of the process. 

If you need a mortgage to fund the purchase of your property, it is important that you know how much you are able to borrow. It is always helpful to see a mortgage adviser before you start looking for properties so that you know your budget. Once you know how much you can borrow, you will need to inform your solicitor so they can review the mortgage offer. In order to have a formal mortgage offer made to you, and not just a mortgage in principle, a survey will have to be carried out, the results of which will need to satisfy you and your lender.

A survey is done in a standardised format set by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). it is a detailed report that includes all major sections of the property that are clearly visible and to identify which areas are in need of further investigation. Wiring, drainage and gas are not included in the survey.

The main details of the survey will include:

  • looking at the general condition of the property and assessing its makos and minor faults.
  • assessing whether any of the major faults will need repairing, and the cost implications of these.
  • assessing and reporting damp in the walls and woodwork, and any woodworm.
  • assessing the condition of damp-proofing and drainage.
  • recommendations for any further surveys and invest

Once you and your solicitor are satisfied with everything, you can start negotiating a completion date. The date of completion will need to be agreed and deposit monies received by the purchaser’s

solicitor before exchanging contracts. Your solicitor will also need to carry out a bankruptcy search on each purchaser. This search will also need to be carried out on any family members or friends from whom a loan or gift is given to the purchaser. There will be a nominal fee payable to the HM Land Registry, and the results should be immediate.

Exchanging contracts will make the transaction legally binding, therefore after this time, neither party can pull out or change the completion date without legal consequences. Exchanging contracts usually happens by telephone where the seller’s and purchaser’s solicitors will read out the details of the contract and then send their client’s signed copy to one another. A deposit amount will need to be agreed and sent to the seller’s solicitor. The purchaser’s solicitor will need to pay the deposit monies to the seller’s solicitor who will hold onto them until completion has taken place, however this will depend on how soon the completion date is.

Once contracts have been exchanged, and a legally binding completion date has been set, the purchaser’s solicitor will request funds from a mortgage lender in readiness for completion. The seller’s solicitor will request a final redemption figure from their mortgage provider, and if there is a charge registered against the property. If the property is leasehold, the seller’s solicitor will allocate the service charges and ground rent, and then send a completion statement to the purchaser’s solicitor.

In addition to this, the seller’s solicitor will also need to ensure that their client has signed a transfer in readiness to send to the purchaser’s solicitors on completion. The purchaser’s solicitor will send a completion statement to the purchaser, which will illustrate all outstanding monies to be transferred to the solicitor prior to completion. The statement will include a complete breakdown to include disbursements, solicitor’s and third-party fees.

Once in receipt of the purchase monies, the seller’s solicitor will redeem all charges registered against the property. They will also need to deal with restriction holders and pay third-party fees e.g., fees payable to estate agents.

Although the purchasers will have already moved into the new property, their solicitor will still have important formalities to action. After completion has taken place, the seller’s solicitor will send to the purchaser’s solicitor the signed transfer, any original deeds, and any guarantees they may hold.

Once the purchaser’s solicitor receives the seller’s signed transfer, they will need to submit their application to HMLR to register the title in the purchaser’s name. They will also need to submit a property tax return form (England’s Stamp Duty Land Tax, Wales’ Land Transaction Tax). The purchaser’s solicitor will then have 30 days to submit the return, otherwise they will incur a penalty.

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