You’ve found the property; on budget, right number of bedrooms, not a terrible commute and near to the all important schools (or bars, depending on your outlook). Next comes some haggling, further viewings and eventually, hopefully, your offer is accepted. Now, funding provided, your Solicitor must secure your ownership of the property.
With your offer accepted, the property is "Sold Subject to Contract” or “Under Offer"; this basically means that neither party is tied to the contract and both are at liberty to pull out, renegotiate or accept another offer completely as is often the case with “gazumping”.
As a consequence, during this period, time is of the essence. So with your mortgage approved (it is best to get this done in advance), your lender will undertake a valuation to ensure that the property is adequate collateral for the mortgage loan. Here, you may also wish to instruct a more extensive survey to gain a more detailed understanding of the property’s condition.
As the funds are being secured, your solicitor will be undertaking the conveyancing, which essentially involves transferring the ownership, or title, from one party to another. The process is:
- 1. Take Instructions
We take your instructions and receive the details of the transaction from the Estate Agents.
- 2. Request Documentation
We will request the documentation from the Seller’s Solicitors, and will let you know when this arrives.
- 3. Pre-Contract Enquiries
We will raise Pre-Contract enquiries with the Seller’s Solicitors, if not already supplied. You will have inspected the property and you should let us know if there are any aspects you would like clarified. For example, there may be someone in occupation of the property who is not the owner or the boundaries may appear to have been altered. You will have been sent a short questionnaire about this.
- 4. Mortgage and Survey
You will have contacted your Building Society or Bank to make a Mortgage application if necessary. When you receive the Mortgage Offer, instructions together with the Mortgage documents will be sent to us. There are some points that should be drawn to your attention:
- a) Please note carefully the Special Conditions.
- b) You may receive a copy of the Lender’s valuation report and you should look at this carefully. We would also recommend at this stage that you have your independent survey carried out as you may not be able to rely on the report prepared for the Lender unless this was specifically commissioned by you. It is obviously very important where you do not require a Mortgage to have a survey carried out. If you are buying a new property you should have it surveyed when it is ready for occupation.
- 5. Report to You
When all the preliminary matters have been dealt with we will report to you and let you have copies of any important documents. This will usually include a plan of the property and details of any relevant rights and restrictions.
- 6. Signing Up and Deposit
We deal with the approval of the Contract and ask you to call at the office to sign. Alternatively, we will prepare a contract report, and send that to you in the post. You will need to read through the report carefully, and ask us if you want anything clarified. On exchange of Contracts, a non-returnable 10% (sometimes less) deposit is usually payable. If you do not have this available you should tell us as early as possible so that other arrangements can be made (e.g. a bridging loan, agreement of a reduced deposit or the use of your purchaser’s deposit if you are selling). When we see you, we will discuss the time scale for exchange and completion.
- 7. Exchange and Insurance
Exchange of Contracts takes place and the date for completion is inserted in the Contract. You are then contractually bound to buy the property and you will be able to take possession as from the completion date. If you are obtaining a Mortgage, the Lender will require you to arrange the buildings insurance. If there is no Mortgage or if you wish to arrange insurance with a company of your choice (rather than relying on insurance arranged by the Lender), you must effect adequate insurance cover as from the date of exchange. The level of cover will be dealt with in the survey report. If you decide to arrange your own insurance, there could be additional administration charges depending on the requirements of the Lender.
- 8. Statement and Final Searches
We complete the final searches at the Land Charges Registry (as appropriate) and the Land Registry and will send you a financial statement. We may require money from you to complete your purchase, and will ask for it before completion. If you are looking to complete the purchase quite quickly after exchange of contracts, we will usually request payment of any completion monies from you at the time of exchange of contracts. We also obtain the Mortgage Advance cheque a few days before completion, or (if the advance is being sent electronically) on the day before completion, since this avoids any delays on the completion date itself, if we have to wait for the funds to be received.
- 9. Completion Arrangements
We suggest that a few days before completion you contact the Seller to arrange a handing over of the keys. The usual arrangement is that the Seller will leave the keys at the Estate Agents for you to collect on the morning of completion. We will, of course, report to you at your new address. Sometimes there is money due to you and we will then send you a statement together with a cheque unless you have instructed us to have the money placed direct in a Bank or Building Society account.
- 10. Post-Completion
We will then deal with the stamp duty and registration of your Title at the Land Registry. The registration will usually be completed within four to six weeks, although this can be longer if you are buying a new property, or one which is subject to first registration at the Land Registry.
- 11. And Finally
When the Deeds are returned, we will check that the Title is registered correctly. The Deeds will then be sent to the Lender, or if there is no Mortgage we will be pleased to hold your Deeds here at the office in safe custody without charge. You will be sent a copy of the title for your records showing you as the registered owner.