How long will it take?

The length of the transaction can vary a great deal and will depend a number of different factors. For a straight forward purchase/sale we would normally estimate 4-6 weeks from either receiving or drafting the contract papers to exchange of contracts, with completion taking place normally 1-2 weeks after exchange, giving a total of between 6 and 8 weeks.

Many transactions are dependent on related sales and purchases and therefore the period to completion can be lengthy if the chain is long and complicated.

There are common factors that delay a transaction include finding a mortgage, receiving the mortgage offer and for leasehold properties the time taken for the management information to be received from the management company or landlord. It will also depend heavily on how fast the parties in the transaction want to move.

Do I have to pay you any money upfront?

We usually ask for £500.00 on account for purchases shortly after we have been instructed by you. We ask for this money upfront and early on in the process so that we may put in hand the searches on the property at an early stage to prevent any delays.

In respect of a sale, we will usually ask for between £150 and £300 depending on whether the property is freehold or leasehold. This money will enable us to obtain the title to the property from the Land Registry which is essential for drafting the contract papers for the buyer’s solicitors. If the property is leasehold it will enable us to obtain the necessary management information from the management company or landlord.

Once we have exchanged contracts, we will issue you with a completion statement giving you a full breakdown of all monies received or to be received together with all monies that are due to be paid out. This will include monies coming from your lender (buyer only), amount required to redeem your mortgage (seller only), our legal fees and disbursements, stamp duty (buyer only) and the estate agents fees (seller only).

When can the buyer / seller pull out?

The buyer or seller is free to pull out of the transaction at any point up to exchange of contracts. Unfortunately, it is not possible to recoup any of your losses from the other party.

The buyer or seller is able to pull out of the transaction after exchange of contracts but the party that pulls out of the transaction will be liable to financial penalties.

What are searches?

Searches are those enquiries and inspections we make of registers that hold information about the property, for example the information held at the local authority or by the water authority.

Apart from inspecting the legal title to the property, we as a firm conduct three main searches, the most important search being the Local Authority Search. This search is important as it identifies any planning permissions or building regulations that may have been granted and in the process identifying those that haven’t. The search will also identify if any notices have been served against the property and whether any work is required by the seller to rectify this. The search contains information about planned railway and road infrastructure as well as information as to whether the property is classed as being on the Contamination Register. A local search is for the specific property only; it will not provide any information upon any nearby properties outside of its boundaries or the surrounding area. If you have concerns about any neighbouring land you should inform your solicitor so that we can make the relevant enquiries

Another important search is the water and drainage search. This details whether the property is connected to mains water and sewage and also identifies if the property has been built or extended over drains to which the water provider may have access to. The search will also indicate surface water charges and the current rateable value of the property.

The final search is the environmental search. The search will most importantly identify whether the property is at risk of being built on contaminated land. Furthermore the search will identify any energy structures and will detail the risk of flooding.

Depending on the location of the property, further searches may be required to be undertaken. For example a mining search may be required if the property is in an affected area like South Wales. The search results will reveal whether there is anticipated coal mining activity or whether there was activity in the past, the existence of underground coal workings and mine entries which may cause problems with subsidence. It will also reveal whether any claims for compensation due to subsidence have been made.

If the property borders with common land, a village green or is in a rural area a Commons Registration Search is also recommended. If search reveals that any of the land is registered, no development will be permitted on the registered land.

Do I need a survey?

A survey is always advisable in order to discover physical defects not apparent upon a basic inspection of the property. Once contracts have been exchanged, you will have no right to withdraw from the Contract without a significant financial penalty, and it will therefore be for you to remedy the defect- which will usually be of considerable expense. Obtaining a survey before exchange allows you to make an informed decision about the property, and even a way to negotiate the price if defects are discovered.

There are three types of survey;

  • Valuation by the lender: This is done for the lender and will usually be too basic to be relied upon to discover inherent physical defects. A valuation may also contain omissions or inaccurate information.
  • Home Buyers Survey: Although this gives a good oversight of the property’s structure, it is still superficial, and should not be carried out on high value properties, or properties over 100 years old.
  • Full Structural Survey: This is the most expensive of the three surveys, but the most comprehensive. It should be considered where
  • the property is of a high value
  • the property is over 100 years old
  • you intend to alter or extend the property upon completion
  • the proximity of the property to features which may cause structural problems
  • the property is not detached

What happens on exchange?

Exchange of Contracts will not take place until all necessary inspections and enquiries have been carried out and you are happy with the information provided on the property and you are willing to proceed. In order to exchange contracts, we will require a signed contract and if purchasing a property 10% of the purchase price to be held by us as a deposit. We would have requested this in plenty of time prior to getting to the point that we are ready to exchange. We will also request that you ensure your buildings insurance is in place for the day of exchange.

The process involves a telephone call between the solicitors acting for the seller and buyer whereby they confirm the contents of the contract and confirm the completion date. It is at this point that the contract becomes legally binding on you.

Once contracts have been exchanged neither party can pull out of the transaction without suffering financial penalties.

When can I move in?

Not until the completion date.

What happens on the day of completion?

The completion day is the day on which you leave your old home and move to your new one.

If we are acting for you in connection with a purchase, the balance of the purchase monies will be transferred to the seller’s solicitors. We will telephone you on the day of completion to confirm that monies have been sent and received by the seller’s solicitors and you can collect the keys from the estate agents. Once you have moved in we advise that you take the meter readings and check the property thoroughly and if necessary take photos of any damage caused by the seller. If any damage has been caused to the property then please do let us know immediately.

If we are acting for you in connection with the sale of a property then we will receive the monies in from the buyer’s solicitors. Once everything has been deducted in accordance with the completion statement the remaining balance will be sent to you. Once the monies have been received we will telephone you to confirm and ask that you leave the keys with the estate agents if not already done so. Before vacating the property we advise that you take your final meter readings and ensure the property is left in a clean and tidy condition ensuring all rubbish has been removed and all cupboards and sheds are empty. The buyers can now collect the keys and move in.

Usually completion should have taken place by 1pm but this can be later if there is a long chain involved in the transaction.