Ultimate guide on buying a home
If you’re not sure what to expect when buying a home, then you’re in the right place. We know that buying a house can be an overwhelming experience, so we have put together a guide to help you through the whole process. The step-by-step guide will help you understand what to expect and, hopefully, alleviate some of your stress.
Get in touch with us as soon as possible so that everything is in order when you find your new home and make an offer. You should also make early contact with your mortgage advisor. If you do not have a mortgage advisor we can use our network of professional contacts to put you in touch with a trusted advisor who can help.
You have found the property you want to buy, you will now be negotiating terms for the purchase (and unless you are a first time buyer or investment buyer you will also negotiate the terms for the sale of your present home).
Once your offer has been accepted and we have received the contract and supporting documentation we will start our detailed investigation of the property to ensure that the seller is able to sell the property mortgage free and that there are no restrictions preventing you (the buyer) from occupying the property or dealing with it as you intend. We will also make appropriate searches with various authorities (for example, local authority search) in order to enquire about planning history and road-widening proposals, mining search(es) to check whether there are any mining activities in the area, an environmental search to ensure that the property is not built upon contaminated land, and drainage search(es) to ensure that the property drains into a public sewer. We shall use our expertise to ensure that only appropriate searches are carried out.
You will have received an offer in principle (if you are having a mortgage) from your lender. The formal offer will not be issued until a valuation has been carried out at the property. You should ensure that you keep in contact with your lender regarding this. We would also recommend that you obtain a more detailed survey or homebuyer’s report before exchange of contracts and provide us with a copy. This is so that you can satisfy yourself on the structure of the property. If you are having a mortgage your lender will insist upon carrying out their own valuation but this is for their own purposes and we strongly recommend that you arrange an independent survey as well. Due to our connections with surveyors, we can often arrange this on your behalf at short notice.
The contract is the agreement to buy and sell the property. There are two copies of the contract, one is signed by you and the other by the seller. Exchange of contracts takes place between solicitors usually by telephone using a formula adopted by the Law Society. Once the contracts have been exchanged there is a legally binding agreement between you and the seller and there is no going back without a financial penalty so you must be sure you want to proceed at this stage. On exchange of contracts a completion date is agreed. This is the date when ownership of the property will pass into your name and when you can move into the property you are buying [and if you are also selling the day you must leave your present property and allow your buyer to move in]. A deposit is paid by you on exchange of contracts and this is usually 10% of the agreed sale price. If you also have a sale we will usually be able to use any deposit received on the sale for the property being purchased. There is usually a gap between exchange of contracts and completion which can be anything from a couple of days to a few weeks depending on the requirements of all parties. Sometimes exchange of contracts and completion can happen on the same day, although this is not always practical when a chain of transactions is involved as parties will need time to book removal companies, contact utility companies and PACK!
As we approach the date for completion, the financial details will be worked out and you will be asked to provide balance monies to complete your purchase and to advise as to the source of funds if not already provided. We will arrange receipt of your mortgage funds directly from your lender. We require all balance monies from you to complete your purchase in cleared funds at least two working days before completion to avoid any last minute delays. We will also carry out pre-completion searches electronically. This will enable us to ensure that no adverse (entries) have been made by the seller since contracts were exchanged and which the seller would have to rectify. If you are having a mortgage we must also carry out a bankruptcy search against you and advise the lender of any adverse (entries). If you have any concerns regarding this please contact us as soon as possible.
This is moving day! The purchase monies are paid to the seller’s solicitors and when funds are received from them the keys to your new home are released. The keys are usually left with the estate agents dealing with the sale and we will telephone you once the matter has completed so that you can collect your keys.
We will file electronically the appropriate return with HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to ensure that Stamp Duty (if applicable) is paid. This is a Government Tax and should not be confused with our professional charges. We will obtain the submission receipt from HMRC and lodge this with HM Land Registry with the application to register the property into your name(s). We are able to lodge most applications to register the title with the Land Registry electronically, which saves you money and speeds up the process. The Land Registry no longer keeps deeds and documents. However, we would still recommend that you retain these documents that we send to you following registration and keep them in a safe place as they may be useful on any subsequent sale or mortgage of the property (saving you money and time at that stage).
Working With Our Service Team
Our diverse and innovative team will work in partnership with you and the wider professional community to add value, simplify the legal process and mitigate risks. You can rest assured you’re working with property experts who work tirelessly on your behalf and keep you updated every step of the way.
- Hayley Griffiths
If you have an enquiry in relation to Residential Property or simply want to speak to a member of our expert team, please get in touch.
Meet Your Lawyers
Charlotte and her team did a great job of getting the sale completed, dealing with some other solicitors in the chain that appeared to be brain dead and uninterested. She kept me updated and chased things as needed on time. I felt she went above and beyond working on her day off because there was a chance the parties would exchange contracts that day. Very helpful and efficient. Many thanks to Charlotte and Claire. Great service.
Excellent conveyancing service from Adam and his team. Our sale was completed by our target date, despite complications, and that was solely down to the expertise and persistence of Adam. Easy to talk to, responsive, proactive and kept us informed. First class. Worth every penny.
We have recently used Charlotte Malik for 3 conveyancing transactions.
The fact we have come back to her time and again should be testament enough to our experience with her but our final transaction proved to be challenging and we would like to highlight her professionalism, excellent client service and integrity, particularly in the face of huge pressure from other parties in the chain. Charlotte remained calm, friendly and progressed our matters quickly and efficiently. She is responsive and proactive. We are very grateful for her help.
Having experienced the other conveyancing solicitors in the chains we have been involved in, it is clear Charlotte is head and shoulders above them. Special mention also to Beverly Taylor who has also been excellent on our transactions, and also very proactive and responsive.