Residential Property: FAQs

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YOUR SALE: I’ve accepted an offer on my property, what happens now?

Your estate agents will prepare a Memorandum of Sale which lists the key information in respect of the sale. To do so they will need to know various details such as the sale price, and who will be acting for you on the legal aspects of the sale. You are under no obligation to use anyone recommended by the estate agents. 

YOUR SALE: What information do I need to provide?

It is helpful if you can provide us with as any relevant paperwork you hold for the property as soon as possible.  Particularly any guarantees for work done at the property, Planning Permissions, Building Regulations Approval or title deeds.  In most sales there are two main forms which you will be required to complete to provide information to the buyer’s solicitor.

The Fittings and Contents Form

This is a tick box form in which you must indicate everything that will be left at the property and everything which you will remove on completion.

Completing the form is a good way for you to really take stock of what is at the property and what you need to arrange to take with you. This form will become part of the contract and so you must stick to the answers you give. You are required to give vacant possession of the property to the buyer on completion which includes removing everything you have indicated you will take together with all rubbish from the property including from the loft and garden.

There may be certain items that you would like to offer to the buyer at an additional cost and it is important that you indicate this as soon as possible so this can be agreed.

The Property Information Form

This is another standard form and often regarded as tedious by sellers.  However, it is essential that this is completed fully and honestly as the buyer’s solicitor will rely on the information you provide. We recommend that you complete the form as fully as possible, letting us assist you with any questions you are unsure of before returning the form. This allows us to provide all of the information required to the buyer’s solicitor as quickly as possible and prevents any delays in the transaction.

YOUR SALE: Who do I hand the keys over to and when?

It is usual for keys to be left with the seller’s estate agents who will not release them to the buyer until the seller’s solicitor confirms that the purchase funds have been received from the buyer’s solicitor and the sale has completed.  Whatever arrangements are made, it is important that no keys are passed to the buyer before we have authorised this.

YOUR SALE & PURCHASE: How long will the purchase/sale take?

This depends on a number of factors.  For example, whether or not a mortgage is required; whether you are involved in a chain of transactions; or for example whether the property you are buying is vacant. If you have any specific dates in mind, it is important that you let us know as soon as possible.  Similarly, if there will be any period of time when you will not be available such as a holiday it is really helpful if we are aware of this as soon as possible.

YOUR SALE & PURCHASE: When will exchange of contracts take place?

Once your solicitor has received all search results, checked the title to the property, has received satisfactory replies to the seller's enquiries and is in receipt of any mortgage offer required, you will be provided with a report on title. This is a key document which compiles all of the information gathered on the property and you must ensure that you read this carefully, highlighting anything which causes you concern.

Once you are satisfied, you will be asked to sign the purchase contract. It is not the signing of the contract which binds you to the sale.  Once a completion date has been agreed and you have given your authority to do so, contracts will be exchanged on your behalf at which point you will be legally bound to purchase the property.

As soon as contracts have been exchanged you will be notified so you can make arrangements.

YOUR SALE & PURCHASE: Who decides when the completion date will be?

The date for completion will need to be agreed between everyone in the chain. Completion must take place on a working day when the banks are open (i.e. not a Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday). Completion does not have to happen on a Friday. Whilst this is popular with buyers and sellers as it allows the weekend to get things in order, it is advisable where possible to complete earlier in the week so if for example the money does not come through in time for completion, it can be dealt with the next day.

YOUR SALE & PURCHASE: When can I book my removals company?

It is only natural to want to be as organised as possible and have your removals booked early. However, we strongly recommend that you do not book your removals until contracts have been exchanged and the completion date is set. Whilst completion dates are often discussed early on, there is no guarantee before an exchange of contracts that the date will not change.

YOUR PURCHASE: Do I need a survey?

When buying a property, the principle of ‘buyer beware’ applies so it is essential that you fully inspect the property and make us aware of anything which may cause concern as soon as possible.

Whilst a mortgage lender will arrange a valuation on the property this is solely to guide them on the value of the property before lending to you. You may well be provided with a copy of the valuation but this is just for your information and you will not be able to rely on this valuation.

We always recommend that as well as a personal inspection of the property you instruct a survey. Most surveyors offer three levels of survey: a Condition Report; a Home Buyer Report or a Building Survey. Each is more comprehensive than the last and prices differ accordingly. To establish which type of survey is right for you and to find a surveyor you may wish to appoint visit  http://www.rics.org/uk/.

YOUR PURCHASE: When do I pay a deposit?

This is required to be sent to us before exchange of contracts as we must usually pay this to the seller’s solicitor on exchange. It is important that we are holding cleared funds and so we ask that any payments to us are made by way of bank transfer. 

YOUR PURCHASE: When will my mortgage funds arrive?

These will be requested by your solicitor once contracts have been exchanged and a completion date set. Depending on which lender you are using there is a specific time required before funds will be released and your solicitor will ensure that completion is not set before this.

YOUR PURCHASE: When do I need to insure the property I am buying?

It is usual for the property risk to pass to the buyer on exchange of contracts and so you should ensure that insurance is in place at this time. It is advisable to arrange a policy ahead of exchange of contracts so that it can be put on risk at exchange at which time you will also need to let the insurers know from which date you will actually reside at the property.

YOUR PURCHASE: What are the standard searches?

These vary depending on your instructions, the location of the property and the information provided by the seller. The most common searches are enquiries of the local authority, an environmental search, a drainage and water search and a chancel search. These are usually put in place towards the start of the transaction and you will be provided with a copy of the results.

YOUR PURCHASE: Once I received the keys am I the legal owner of the property?

Whilst you have the keys and access to the property, there are still some formalities to complete at this point such as officially registering you as the owner and registering any mortgage you have obtained at the Land Registry. We will also facilitate your payment of any Stamp Duty Land Tax due.  Once this is complete we will send you the updated title deeds showing you as the owner of the property.

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