There are four key stages, and our simple step-by-step guides will help you understand the process.
If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Once you have chosen one of our property lawyers, their job is to make the legal side of your purchase proceed as smoothly as possible.
The process begins when the property lawyer writes to you confirming terms of business. They will also ask you to complete a client information form – this will provide us with important information about you and your purchase.
Please note… without your completed forms they will not be able to begin work on your purchase.
What can you do to prepare?
Ensure you provide your estate agent with the property lawyer’s full details so that they can let them know the terms of your purchase, who the sellers are, and who their lawyer is.
This is when most of the legal work is done. The property lawyer will investigate the legal title to the property, request and receive searches and receive your mortgage offer if applicable.
Receiving Contract Papers
The contract papers will be sent to your property lawyer by your seller’s lawyer and will include information about the legal title to the property, property information forms completed by the seller and any other documents relevant to the property such as guarantees or planning consents.
Your property lawyer will inspect the contract papers and raise any relevant enquiries with the seller’s lawyer in respect of the legal title and other aspects that we feel you may need to know.
At this stage your property lawyer will also send you a contract report explaining information about the property and enclose the contract papers that you need to sign.
Once the seller’s lawyer replies to your property lawyers enquiries they will report to you again explaining their replies.
Your property lawyer will need to request certain searches about the property you are buying, these are:
• The Local Authority search will show information such as local land charges, planning consents, building regulation history and whether the road is adopted and maintained by the Council.
• A water and drainage search will indicate whether the property is connected to the foul sewers and mains water or if any sewer pipes or mains water pipes run through the boundaries of the property.
• An environmental and land contamination search will indicate if a property is at potential risk of contamination. A ‘clean up notice’ can be served on the current homeowner which could lead to considerable expense.
Its best advice that you instruct a surveyor to ensure that the property is structurally sound. You buy the property as seen with any structural problems it may have. Your property lawyer cannot advise you on the structural adequacy of the property. You should let your property lawyer have a copy of your survey once available so that we can check any legal recommendations the surveyor makes.
Please note… that a mortgage lender’s valuation is NOT a survey. The lender’s valuation is for the lender’s benefit and to determine if the price you are paying is acceptable to them.
If you need a mortgage to buy your property your property lawyer will need to receive a copy of the mortgage offer direct from your mortgage lender. When a mortgage is required the mortgage lender essentially also becomes the law firms client and they are obliged to comply with any requirements they have in order to proceed.
• Your property lawyer will, on receipt of the mortgage offer, check for any conditions or requirements the mortgage lender needs us to comply with and advise you if necessary.
• They will report to you regarding the mortgage offer with documentation to complete and a draft completion statement showing any money we may need from you.
• They will request buildings insurance information from you and a copy of your mortgage lender’s valuation.
Please note…if your property lawyer needs money from you to complete the purchase we may request evidence from you to verify the source of your money such as copy bank statements.
Exchanging contracts is when the sale becomes legally binding for both buyer and seller – there is no turning back after contracts exchange! Both buyer and seller must complete on the agreed completion date at the agreed price. If you decide not to proceed at this stage you risk forfeiting the deposit and possibly incurring other costs for damages.
• When your property lawyers are ready to exchange contracts they will telephone you on the day to expressly obtain your permission to proceed before committing you to the contract.
• Once we have exchanged contracts we will telephone you to confirm completion.
• If applicable, we will submit our final report to your mortgage lender and request funds be released to us for the completion date.
You can now safely make arrangements for the completion date, arrange removals and ensure your buildings insurance is ‘on risk’.
The completion date is the day the seller must vacate the property and you can move in.
• Legal completion takes place once the seller’s lawyer receives the purchase money from your property lawyer. The seller’s lawyer will then authorise the estate agent (where applicable) to release the keys to you.
• After completion your property lawyer will then apply to the Land Registry to register your ownership, this can take a few weeks after completion. They will then provide you with our final report confirming your ownership is registered.
Please note…remember to take meter readings at the property on the completion day.