Buying a Property Guide
Guide to Buying a Property Making an Offer
When you see a property you wish to purchase, you will make an offer on the property 'subject to contract'. This offer will be made either to the Estate Agent or the seller if there is no agent handling the sale. An offer made 'subject to contract' means that until a legal contract on the property is signed and exchanged, you are not legally bound to the offer. If your offer is accepted on this basis, you need to confirm with the Estate Agent or the seller that the property has been removed from the market. Now is the time to instruct Tower Solicitors LLP &co to act on your behalf in the transaction. The Estate Agent or seller should then send all paperwork regarding the purchase to us. Still nothing will be signed at this stage!
If you require a mortgage to enable you to purchase the property and you have not already done so, now is the time to contact your bank or building society to apply for a mortgage.
If in doubt about how much you can loan, seek advice from a mortgage lender before entering into negotiations.
Deeds & Title Documents
The sellers's Solicitors will forward all documentation and Deeds to us to deal with, such documents will include the contract which will contain all the conditions relating to the transaction, copies of Deeds or Land Registry Title Documents for the property you are purchasing (these documents prove that the property is legally owned by the seller and that they are entitled to sell the property), a plan showing the exact area of the property including boundaries etc and if the property is leasehold (i.e. a flat), a lease.
We will take care of all of these documents for you and check them through thoroughly.
Upon checking the documentation received, we will then proceed to make enquiries about the property with the sellers's Solicitors. These enquiries form part of the terms and conditions on which the property is purchased and are presented to the Solicitor in a formal manner.
Usually when a property is sold there are certain fixtures and fittings that will remain in the house and become part of the sale. We will forward you a list of the items within the property that will form part of the sale and detail any other items that the vendor may be willing to sell in addition to the purchase price. We will also list the items that the seller will be removing from the property so you are fully aware of what will be left in the property when you take it over.
It is always advisable to undertake a survey of the property you wish to purchase. If a mortgage is required on the property your mortgage lender will require a surveyor's valuation report but this will not point out any defects in the property, it will just reassure the bank that the property is worth the amount you wish to borrow. You should therefore arrange to have a full survey carried out on the property to ensure you do not find any defects later which may require substantial work and money to put right.
We will make enquiries with the local Authority and any other relevant bodies to ensure nothing is planned for either the property you are purchasing or any property/land close to the property (i.e. a new housing development or road running through or next to your garden).
Drainage & Contamination
It is essential you know about the drainage of the property. In an urban location this will generally be to a public sewer but in rural areas it may be to a cesspit.
We can also carry out a number of searches to ensure the land you are purchasing is not on a flood plain, old mine or even contaminated. If it is, you as the owner, could be liable to remedy the problem, regardless of whether the problem occurred before you purchased the property.
On occasions a mortgage will be offered to you with certain conditions attached, such as required work/maintenance being carried out on the property. It work is required prior to completion of the transaction, you will need to liaise with the vendor to obtain access. Alternatively, the mortgage lender may agree to lend you the money you require but will hold back a proportion of it until the work/maintenance has been carried out after completion. In this circumstance you must ensure you have the money required to complete the purchase and that you can afford to pay for the work/maintenance yourself until the lender is satisfied that everything has been completed and lends you the remainder of the loan. Always get quotes in so you know exactly how much the work will cost you.
Endowments & Insurance
If you have an endowment mortgage or the lender requires additional insurance such as a mortgage protection policy, you should have such a policy ready to effect.
Signing the Contract
When everything is in place and all enquiries and searches on the property have been satisfied, you will be required to sign the contract. You are still not legally bound until the contract has been exchanged. The completion date of the transaction will be discussed and agreed between all parties involved in the chain at this point.
Once the contracts have been exchanged you will be required to pay a deposit. The amount of the deposit is variable but is usually 10% of the purchase price. When the deposit has been paid, if the purchase fails to complete due to a fault on your side, you will forfeit the amount of the deposit.
Exchange of Contracts
This is the point of no return - once you and the vendor have 'exchanged', you are committed to the purchase of the property. We will exchange the contracts on your behalf with the vendor's Solicitors and will let you know as soon as this has taken place.
Only once contracts have been exchanged can you make arrangements to move See 'Moving House - Your Checklist' to ensure you don't forget anything.
As soon as contracts have been exchanged, the property is your responsibility in terms of insurance and you should ensure your Buildings Insurance is effective on the date of exchange. This covers you in the unlikely event of a disaster happening between the exchange date and the completion date.
Following exchange, arrangements will need to be made to obtain the mortgage money and prepare final statements. You may be asked to sign a transfer document at this stage which transfers the title of the property to you on the date of completion.
This is when the property actually becomes yours and you can move in as soon as you have confirmation from us that your money has been paid to the vendor. This can sometimes take a while to process if there is a chain involved and when you are selling and buying as the money may have to pass through several Solicitors' bank accounts before completion is confirmed. It is unusual therefore that you will take possession of your new house before lunchtime on completion day.
Registration & Deeds
Once the purchase has been completed, the transaction is registered at the relevant Land Registry. Once that is done, the Deeds or Title Documents are available for safe storage. It is usual practice when you have a mortgage on the property that the mortgage lender will retain these until such time as the mortgage is repaid.
All the information on this site is provided for guidance only, you must always speak to a qualified Solicitor for accurate information regarding your own personal situation.