residential conveyancing

Home Buyers Guide - Conveyancing Explained

Buying a home

Over the years we have processed thousand of transactions for our clients.

We have a great deal of experience dealing with all types of properties - new builds, listed, freeholds, leasehold flats and houses, shared ownership properties and holiday homes.

Buying a home is exciting but it is a big investment and can be a legal minefield.

We help you avoid potential problems, protecting your interests at all stages of the process.

We believe it is important you understand the process so uncertainties throughout the transactions are reduced.

A helpful guide

This helpful guide takes you through the services you can expect from our solicitors when buying a home and describes the procedure for a typical home purchase.

First step – Call us

Ideally you should contact us as soon as you think about buying a home.

Our conveyancing solicitors are very experienced and qualified in all areas of property law. We are members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme so you can be sure our service meets the high standards set by the Law Society.

We will give you a clear quotation of our fees and the other costs involved, including charges such as stamp duty land tax, Land Registry fees, VAT and search fees.

Throughout the transaction we will regularly keep you updated either by telephone or e-mail. Our quotation includes all correspondence and telephone calls.

We do not submit additional bills should the transaction become more time consuming or complicated than envisaged. We also do not usually charge if the transaction becomes abortive for any reason before exchange of contracts.

What we will need from you

We will ask you for a variety of details and documents. These could include:

• personal identification
• the price of the property
• any factors that may influence the exact time you want to buy the property (for example: to coincide with school holidays)
• how you are planning to pay for the property.

We will also need to know whether:

• you have applied for a mortgage
• you plan to carry out work on the property
• you are buying with someone else
• the seller is buying another property
• you have a property to sell

Survey advice

If you are applying for a mortgage, your mortgage lender will require an independent valuation of your new home.

They will usually appoint their own surveyor to do this and will normally charge you for it. This is a valuation for mortgage purposes and not a survey.

You should therefore consider appointing your own surveyor to carry out a survey or prepare a home buyer’s report on the property. It is your responsibility to satisfy yourself that the property is structurally sound before you buy it.

If the survey or report reveals that building work is needed, you should tell us and may wish to renegotiate a discount on the price of the property.

Contacting the seller’s solicitor

When we receive a memorandum from the estate agents we write to the seller’s solicitors to obtain a draft contract and other information and documentation.

When we receive the documents from the seller’s solicitors we review them immediately.

Some firms choose only to look at the paperwork when they have received everything including the mortgage offer and the results of the searches. The disadvantage with this is that if there are any fundamental issues, they are not raised until very late in the transaction. This causes unnecessary delay and frustration for all parties.

We will raise any necessary enquiries with the seller’s solicitors.

The seller’s documents will include a form listing the fittings and contents which will be included when you buy the property. We will ask you to check this list carefully.

We will ask you to transfer monies to our bank account so we can put in hand the various searches as soon as we receive the paperwork.

Searches

We will make various searches, including enquiries of the local authority.

These can help to reveal any planning issues affecting the property, such as road improvements and details of any planning permission granted on the property.

These searches will only provide information about the property itself and not generally about any neighbouring properties.

If necessary we will also carry out flooding, mining and contaminated land searches.

We apply for most of the searches online. This allows us to receive the results within 24 hours. They are reviewed and any queries which need to be raised with the seller’s solicitors are made.

We always apply to the relevant local authority for a proper and full local search rather than just a personal search. This means that we can rely on the accuracy of the results.

A personal search provides insurance against information the search agent cannot obtain. However, the problem with personal searches is that if there is an issue, although there may be some compensation available if a successful claim can be made, it does not necessarily solve the fundamental problem of how you then sell your property.

We review the local search as soon as we receive it from the Council. Most Councils now provide the results of searches within a week or so from the application.

If any of these searches highlight any areas of concern we will let you know.

Leasehold properties

Flats and some houses are leasehold rather than freehold.

If the property is leasehold there will be detailed terms and conditions for the lease.

We will carefully check these and we will make enquiries with the seller’s solicitor or the managing agents of the property about any service charges and other management costs you may have to pay.

Mortgage offer and terms

If you need a mortgage to buy your home you will need to apply early in the process as you will usually need a satisfactory offer of a mortgage before exchanging contracts.

You should be sure you can meet any conditions in the offer and read the offer letter and mortgage conditions very carefully.

The lender will also send us a copy of the mortgage offer. We will look at the mortgage instructions as soon as they are received and let you know if there are any issues which need to be dealt with before contracts are exchanged and explain the mortgage conditions to you.

Meeting with you

When we have the results of the enquiries, the searches and the mortgage offer, we will usually contact you to arrange an appointment to go through the paperwork.

We have many clients around the country and indeed around the world, so if it is inconvenient for you to visit our office we can report to you by post or e-mail.

We are flexible with our appointments and can meet with you early in the day, over lunchtime, or late in the afternoon to minimise disruption to your schedule. We also have an office in Dorridge if that is more convenient.

At this stage we will ask you to transfer the deposit of 10% of the purchase price to our bank account, unless you are tying in a sale with the purchase in which case we shall use the deposit provided by your buyer.

When we meet with you we shall discuss your preferred time scale for completion which is the day that you will obtain ownership of the property.

If you are having a mortgage there is usually at least a week between exchange and completion to allow sufficient time to obtain the mortgage funds, and also to allow the seller sufficient time to finalise their arrangements.

Signing the contract

At our meeting we will report back to you on all the investigations we have made for you so far.

If you are still happy to go ahead, we will finalise the terms of the contract and explain it to you.

You then need to sign the contract.

Exchanging contracts

When everybody in the chain has signed their contract and has agreed the completion date, we can exchange contracts with the seller’s solicitor. You will have the contract the seller has signed and the seller will have the contract you have signed.

This is the crucial moment of the agreement between you and the seller. There is then a legally binding deal which should be completed on the agreed date in the contract.

Final balance

Between exchanging contracts and completion, we will liaise with the lender to obtain the mortgage funds.

We will also provide you with a statement detailing the balance monies due from you. This will include the balance of the purchase price, our costs, VAT, stamp duty land tax and disbursements such as Land Registry fees.

In order to complete on time, the monies must be transferred into our account at least one working day before completion.

We will carry out final searches and make arrangements with the seller’s solicitor for paying off any existing mortgages on the property. We will also prepare the transfer deed and send it to the seller’s solicitor for signing.

Completion

This is the final stage in the conveyancing process when we hand over the money to the seller and the keys are released to you.

On the day of completion we transfer the monies to the seller’s solicitors. When they receive them they release the keys at the estate agents and notify us. We telephone you and you can collect the keys to your new home.

We then receive the paperwork from the seller’s solicitors and pay the stamp duty land tax.

We will also register the interest of your mortgage lender and record you as the new legal owner of the property at the Land Registry. You will be sent a copy of the deeds for your records.

We store all of the relevant paperwork in our safe free of charge, so you know when you come to sell the property your documents are secure and easily available.

Related legal matters

Buying a property may introduce other related legal matters.

For example:

• if you are a married couple buying a home in joint names you should consider how the property will be owned if one of you dies
• if you are buying a home with someone you are not married to, you may need to enter into a deed of trust to set out what share of the property each person owns
• If you do not have a will, you should consider making one or if you do have a will, you may need to update it.

In all cases we can offer you legal advice as part of a complete professional service.

Let us help you

If you would like a quotation for your purchase, or have any queries please contact Tim Langford and Michelle Layton on 0121 705 7571 (Solihull office), or Asia Bi on 01564 779393 (Dorridge office).

or email enquiries@wallacerobinson.co.uk

Further reading:

Selling Your Home Guide - Conveyancing Explained (Residential Conveyancing)

Jargon-busting guide to buying or selling a home (Residential Conveyancing)

Sale and Purchase (Residential Conveyancing)

This article is for general information purposes only. It does not constitute technical, financial, legal advice or any other type of professional advice and is no substitute for specific advice based on your individual circumstances. We do not accept responsibility or liability for any actions taken based on the information in this article. For more information, please click here.