When buying or selling a property, you will need to hire a solicitor to handle the conveyance. This legal process can be a little complicated if you haven’t been through this before. We have summaries some handy tips about the process by Rebecca Allen, a solicitor at Spire Solicitors LLP.
You have decided to sell or buy a property, here is the step by step process:
- Instruct a solicitor
Once you’ve instructed solicitor, the legal process can start.
The seller’s solicitor is then have to prepare a legal information pack including draft contract; fixtures and fittings and contents form; a property information form; and the legal title to the property document.
The draft contracts include particulars such as the property’s address and price and the names and addresses of both buyer and seller.
Fixtures and fittings form presents a list of items that the seller would like to either remove or leave at the property on completion. Once both parties reach an agreement on which items will be removed or left, the form is attached to the contract and the seller will be liable if any of these items are not left or removed on completion. Often, vendors do not realise that they could be fined for not leaving or removing an item which is mentioned on the fixtures and fittings form.
Property information form is designed in order to help the buyer to receive essential information regarding the property. This is completed by the vendor, and includes details such as boundaries particulars; disputes and complaints by neighbouring owners; proposed planning applications; or anything else that might affect the property.
The legal title of the property is issued by the government department responsible for recording the details of the owners of land and property in England and wales- Land Registry. To register new ownership is compulsory whenever a property is sold or mortgaged, therefore the conveyancer would have to check the title to make sure that it could be legally re-sold.
- Searches and enquiries
When buying a property, your solicitor will conduct several different types of searches.
The Local authority searches are by far the most important ones as they will contain an information held with the local authority about the property you’re about to purchase. These searches also include any prospective plans for nearby developments and roads and details about who is responsible for maintaining roads and paths close to the property.
Water and drainage search are sent to the local water and sewerage undertaker. This search confirms ‘whether the foul and surface water drain to a public sewer and whether the property is connected to a mains water supply’.
The environmental search is another very important one because it will establish ‘whether the property is built near or on contaminated land or water, or on old landfill site’. This type of search is required mainly because many properties are built where the land was used for industrial purposes and the toxic substance could remain in the ground. If this is not clear before the purchase is completed, then the buyer could have difficulties with reselling the property or even worse – health problems. The environmental search also reveals risks of flooding or subsidence.
While the solicitors are obtaining the searches results, the buyer is able to raise any enquires and arrange any additional surveys such as damp reports, electrical checks to advise on the physical condition of the property.
On the other hand, if you’re the seller, this is the time when your solicitor would need your help answering the enquiries raised by the buyer’s conveyancer. Once the enquiries are answered, both parties can sign the completion statement and final contract, we are not ready to exchange.
- Pre exchange
The buyer will sign their exchange papers after their solicitor has reported to them all the findings about the property such as searches and replies to the enquiries they have raised.
- Exchange of contracts and completion
The final stage of buying and selling property is exchange of contract, followed by completion.
For freehold properties, the whole process takes between 8-10 weeks to be ready for exchange, but for leasehold might take around 10-12 weeks usually. As soon as both seller and buyer has signed the contract and the purchaser is happy with the report revealing all the information on the property, the conveyancers would be looking to exchange contracts. This is when the deal has become legally binding in England and Wales. At this point the buyer and the seller would not be able to back out of the transaction.
On completion, buyers collect the keys for their new home which are usually held by the selling agent. Also, on the day of completion, the buyer solicitor is updating the Land Registry with the new owner name and also submits Stamp Duty Tax return.
To summarize, these are the four most important stages in every sale process. Of course, every transaction is different, so complications and changes are always to be expected.
Here at Jameson and Partners, we always keep our clients updated on the sale’s progression to ensure that stress level are kept to a minimum and any delays or issues are dealt as quick as possible.