Sarah is here to help house buyers and sellers get to grips with the conveyancing process. This month, she outlines the seven steps to buying a property…
I’ve agreed to buy my first home – what happens next?
Moving house is stressful for everyone, no matter now experienced you are. To demystify the process, I’ve broken a typical purchase down into seven simple steps, outlining what has to be achieved before you can collect the keys.
Step one: Instructing a solicitor
Once you’ve agreed to purchase a property, you need a legal adviser to act on your behalf.
After settling on a firm of solicitors, you will be asked to complete instruction forms and provide documentation that proves your identity and that funds are available, to comply with money laundering regulations. You will also be asked to make a payment on account to cover the necessary searches on the property.
This is the point at which you would look to instruct an independent survey, if required and your advisor can give you more information about how to proceed. If you are buying the house with a mortgage, this is also the time to make the full application.
Step two: Receiving the contract
Once you have instructed a legal advisor, they will receive documentation in respect of the house you are buying from the sellers’ solicitor. This is known as the draft contract pack and includes protocol forms – the answers to specific questions about the property and what is to remain there on completion, along with a copy of the official title.
Step three: Raising enquiries
After the contract pack has been received, your solicitor will investigate the property’s title, raise any enquiries with the sellers’ solicitor, based on the information provided and apply for your searches. At this point, they would also want to receive a copy of your mortgage offer.
Step four: Report results
You will receive a legal report that covers information about the property, the results of your searches and your mortgage offer. It will outline everything you need to know and any issues that have arisen, together with the obligations imposed on you by the lender, in order for the purchase to proceed.
Step five: Signing the contract
You will be asked to sign the appropriate paperwork i.e. the contract, transfer deed and mortgage deed (if appropriate) and return it to your solicitor.
Step six: Exchanging contracts
Once everything is in place and has been sent back to the sellers’ solicitor, your legal advisor will look to exchange contracts on your behalf.
This is the point when the transaction becomes binding and a completion date can be fixed. It is also the time to insure the property.
The completion date needs to be agreed by all parties in your chain, so everything must be in place for exchange to go ahead. You are then legally committed to proceed with the purchase and complete on the agreed date.
Step seven: Completion
This is the day you’ve been working towards! Money will be transferred between parties in your chain and you become the new legal owner of your property. Once completion has been confirmed, you will be able to collect your keys and move in.
After legal completion, your solicitor needs to pay any stamp duty to the Inland Revenue and lodge your details with the Land Registry. You and your mortgage lender will then receive copies of the Completed Registration.
As you can see, there is a plethora of paperwork to wade through and investigations to carry out before you can proceed with the purchase of a property. This can cause frustrating delays, but your solicitor will keep you updated throughout and let you know when milestones are reached.
If you have any questions about purchasing a home, don’t hesitate to contact me or my conveyancing colleagues on (0114) 218 4000 or email email@example.com.