Can I complete the purchase of my property on the same day I exchange contracts?
When you exchange, you are entering into a binding contract to buy the property. Completion normally follows seven to ten days later to give the seller and other parties in the chain time to arrange removals, read meters and pack belongings.
A delay between exchange and completion also allows the solicitors time to carry out any final checks and make sure sufficient funds are available from the lender or the buyer to ensure there will be no problems on moving day.
When there is a short chain of perhaps just two parties, exchange and completion can happen together, provided everything is in place and everyone knows the date well in advance. It is, however, still fairly rare, as the stress of not knowing if the sale will go through until the morning you move is too much for most people to bear.
My solicitor has asked if I want an environmental search carrying out. What is this and is it necessary?
When you buy a property, particularly one located in an urban area, there is a chance the land it is built on was used for something previously. In some cases, this could have been a potentially contaminating activity, for example, a petrol station, some form of industry or railway sidings.
As a buyer, you need to be aware of any contamination. It may not be possible to make absolutely certain without expensive investigation (such as soil analysis), but it is often viable to determine the likelihood that the area was polluted by looking at past uses of the site. Land can also be contaminated by leaks from neighbouring properties.
Studying old plans and maps that form part of the title deeds can help identify the previous usage of the property, but your solicitor will probably recommend an environmental search, as it is the easiest, cheapest and fastest way to obtain this information. Searches are often carried out over the internet and only take a few days to complete.
Your solicitor could also ask the seller, via his solicitor, what the land was used for in the past and whether an environmental search was undertaken when he purchased the property.
If it is a relatively new house, the ten-year builders’ guarantee should give you protection against contamination, as the guarantors will have either carried out, or at least seen, site investigations before agreeing to back the property.