Residential Property legal expert Gemma Bath looks at the Contract Pack, its role in the initial Enquiry Stage of a residential transaction and explains why the pack is important for both buyers and sellers.
A key stage in any conveyancing transaction is the point at which the buyer’s conveyancer receives the contract pack from the seller’s conveyancer.
The contract pack enables the buyer’s conveyancer to raise enquiries on the property and will include the draft contract and any other additional information relevant to the sale.
Before the seller’s conveyancer can prepare the contract pack they will need to have received from the seller:
- a formal instruction to sell
- a completed TA6 form or if it is a leasehold property, a TA7 form – (more about these later)
- and a Memorandum of Sale from the estate agent/private seller - the official notification that the sale has been agreed.
What does the contract pack contain?
A contract pack should contain the following:
1. The contract of sale
The contract outlines the details of the sale i.e. the seller’s and buyer’s names, the agreed price for the property, title number and the property address in full. Most contracts include standard conditions of sale. However, some terms within a contract are not standard and it is the buyer’s conveyancer’s responsibility to identify any issues which could disadvantage their client and advise of any changes they would like to be made to the contract before it is signed at Exchange of Contract stage.
2. The Property Information form (TA6) and The Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form (TA10)
The TA6 and TA10 are also enclosed with the contract pack. These are standard protocol forms from the Law Society and it is a requirement that these are completed by the seller.
TA6 Property Information Form: This important form includes information on boundaries, any disputes and complaints with neighbours, any notices and proposals, alterations, planning permissions and building control approvals. It will also cover matters such as insurance, any environmental issues, rights and informal arrangements, parking, services, connections to utilities and services. Any warranties, guarantees and certificates relating to the property such as double glazing, boiler installation and any other works should also be included in the contract pack.
Buyers should check this information carefully and if they notice any discrepancies, let their conveyancer know.
TA10 Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form: The seller is required to detail all information in this respect, including for example, basic fittings, the kitchen, bathroom, carpets, curtains, the outdoor area/garden, and so on. The buyer should make sure, if the seller has confirmed to them directly or via their estate agent, that if they intend to leave certain items as part of the sale price, that these items are listed on the TA10.
3. TA7 Leasehold Information Form
If the property is leasehold a TA7 Form will be enclosed with the pack along with any relevant documentation relating to the management of the building and other leasehold issues.
4. Title Documents
The title register and title plan from the Land Registry will also be sent to the buyer’s conveyancers as part of the contract pack. Any documents referred to in the title register such as conveyances, transfers, etc. will also be enclosed. If the property is leasehold, a copy of the lease will also be included.
Does the buyer have to do anything with the contract pack, or is it all taken care of by their conveyancer?
The buyer’s conveyancer will write to the seller’s conveyancer to confirm that they have been instructed, and will request the contract pack. Once the contract pack has been received, the buyer’s conveyancer will examine the contents and if necessary raise any enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer.
The buyer also has an important part to play and must check the contract pack carefully to make sure that all the items they believe to be included in the purchase are and that essential features which could include parking or boundaries are as they understood from their visit to the property. They should also check, if for example the property has an extension, that necessary Planning Permissions have been sought and Building Control approvals are in place.
How often does it happen that there is a problem with the contract pack?
The most common problem is the speed at which the contract packs are sent out to the buyer’s conveyancer. This should take up to two weeks, however, unfortunately it can take much longer as issuing the pack is reliant on the seller completing the Law Society’s protocol forms mentioned above and putting together (and finding!) all the other necessary information.
If you are a buyer and you experience a delay of more than two weeks after the issue of the Memorandum of Sale by the estate agent, you should contact your estate agent to find out why.
What are some common reasons for holdups?
The Enquiry Stage should take typically within two to three weeks depending on the complexity of the sale.
Typical reasons for holds ups in the Enquiry Stage could include:
- Mortgage lenders – If a mortgage is required the transaction is dependent on the speed of the lender.
- Complex transactions – Transactions which include non-standard aspects such as listed buildings or leasehold properties may delay the Enquiry Stage.
- Slow searches– Some Local Authorities are unfortunately slow at providing search results which can incur significant delays.
- Slow buyers or sellers – In some cases it is the buyer or seller that can delay the process – sometimes for tactical reasons – or sometimes just because they are unresponsive or disorganised and do not provide sufficient or timely information to their conveyancer.
- Inadequate response to enquiries raised – Your conveyancer is working in your best interest and if they have not received an adequate response to their enquiries, they should not move forward with the transaction until they are satisfied.
After the Enquiry Stage is successfully completed exchange of contracts could take place in four to six weeks, depending on the complexity of the transaction.
If you are thinking of buying or selling a property, contact a member of our expert Residential Property team for an initial chat and free quotation.