A step by step guide to purchasing a property

Purchasing a property can be one of the largest financial commitments that you will ever have to make. The legal process involved can be frustrating, especially if you don’t understand the process and the terminology involved.

It is vitally important that you find the correct Conveyancing Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer to act on your behalf.  Choosing the correct legal representation is critical as it can effect the speed of your transaction and the level of communication that you receive throughout the transaction.  Try to use specialist Conveyancing Companies who have the resource and the IT to process your transaction effectively.  Price is not or should not be the only consideration when choosing your Conveyancer.

The following narrative outlines the process and terminology used throughout the conveyancing process:

Contract papers received

Within two or three weeks of your having negotiated the purchase of your new property, your Conveyancer will receive what is known as ‘pre- contract documentation’ from the Sellers Solicitors. This documentation will contain copies of title deeds to the premises. It will also contain answers to enquiries which have been raised in relation to the premises by your Conveyancer, such as whether or not any extensions have been built at the premises, or whether or not there are any on-going neighbour disputes. The package will also contain a Fixtures Fittings and Contents List which will detail all of those items which are to remain at the premises following completion of your property purchase. A copy of the Home Information Pack, prepared by the seller, should also be available for scrutiny.

Report to the Client

Once your Conveyancer receives all relevant pre-contract documentation he should provide you with a report, sending you copies of the title deeds and the plan to the premises and enclosing all relevant pre-contract enquiries including the Fixtures Fittings and Contents List for you to scrutinise. In the event that you have any queries at that stage, you will need to contact your Conveyancer in order to discuss these issues and take the appropriate advice.

Implement searches

A number of searches need to be undertaken in order to ensure that you know as much about the property that you are purchasing as possible.  Many of the searches that are required are to be found in the Home Information Pack (HIP).  Unfortunately these searches have been prepared by the seller on the seller’s behalf and it is not therefore

possible for you or your mortgage lender to rely on them without the express consent of the Search or HIP Providers.  It may be possible to purchase indemnity insurance to validate these searches depending on how old they are and what your Mortgage Lender’s

policy is in this respect. Your Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer will be able to advise you in this respect once the HIP pack is to hand.

The searches that you are likely to require are as follows:

Local Authority search

This is a vitally important search which reveals whether or not any planning or building regulation entries have been made against the property. It also specifies whether or not any road works are due to take place within 200 yards of your property.

Environmental search

Your solicitor will commission an Environmental search in the majority of cases in order to ensure that the property is not liable to be at risk from environmental issues such as flooding or previous contaminated use of the land.

Coal Authority searches

If appropriate, a Coal Authority search will be undertaken on the premises in order to ensure that the property is not liable to be damaged as a result of previous or future coal mining activity.

Drainage searches

A Drainage search is normally carried out in order to ensure that the property has the benefit of mains drains and water facilities.

Local Authority and Drainage Searches will be found within the HIP. Other searches may be required against your property depending on locality.

Your Offer of Mortgage

From the outset of the property transaction, you should be taking steps to ensure that your application for a mortgage is being processed as quickly as possible.

A survey will normally be undertaken on the property by your mortgage company. Please note that in the majority of cases this survey is for mortgage valuation purposes only and you will not be able to take any warranty in relation to the findings of the survey. It may be possible for you to upgrade your survey to a full Home Buyers Survey which will provide you with a more comprehensive survey which you can rely upon.

Your offer of mortgage is a tangible document that will arrive on your doorstep. Your Conveyancer will receive a copy of your offer of mortgage at the same time as you receive your copy.

Once you are in receipt of your offer of mortgage you should be in a position to proceed to the next stage of your property transaction which is exchanging contracts with a view to completing your property transaction.

Request of Funds

Once your Conveyancer is in receipt of your offer of mortgage, and all parties are nearing a position where they are ready to proceed to completion, your Conveyancer will provide you with a Statement of Account specifying the money that needs to be paid by you in relation to your property transaction. All funds will pass through your Conveyancer’s Client Account.  Your deposit monies, which will usually represent 10% of the purchase price, will need to be paid to your Conveyancer prior to exchange of contracts.

Signing Documents

Once you are in a position to proceed, your Conveyancers will contact you and request that you sign all of the relevant documents which will include a contract, a mortgage deed and a transfer document.

Exchange of Contracts

The contract is the document that will commit you to purchasing the property and commit the Seller to selling the property. The contract contains details of the Seller and the Buyer, the property and the purchase price as well as other detailed terms and conditions in the event that completion does not go to plan, which does not happen very often.

The purpose of exchanging contracts is to commit all parties to the property transaction and to fix the completion date. The completion date is the date that the property transaction is finalised and the date that you take up possession of your new property.

Please note that contracts are not exchanged by you simply signing the contract. More often than not a contract is exchanged by the Legal Representatives acting for both parties talking to each other over the telephone and confirming that contracts are exchanged.


The completion date is the date that you will purchase your new property. The keys to your new property should be available by approximately mid-day on the day of completion. You will need to ensure that all services and utility providers are informed of the completion date and meter readings are taken at your new property.

Post Completion

Once your Conveyancers have completed your transaction their involvement does not end there. It will be necessary for them to pay any Stamp Duty that is payable to the Inland Revenue and register your interest, and that of your Mortgage Lender, in the property at the Land Registry.

Moving house can be a stressful process.  It is important that you chose the correct Conveyancing Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer to act on your behalf.

Source by Mitch Riscoll

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