Buying Your Property

Once the agents have confirmed to you that your offer has been accepted, they will ask for details of your solicitor. Some agents may try to persuade you to use their recommended conveyancer. Sometimes this is with the best of intentions and sometimes it is because that conveyancer pays them a fee for the introduction! Simply tell them that you would prefer to use your own solicitor. They should not be offended!

The agent will then arrange for a Memorandum of Sale to be sent to all parties. The memorandum of sale will give us details of what has been agreed in terms of the property, price etc and of the seller or his or her solicitor. You will know when we have received those particulars as you will receive from us a letter confirming this and detailing any further information that we need from you.

If you have already contacted us we will have sent you a formal quotation letter and a questionnaire form to fill out for us. If you have not already received the form it will be sent to you at this point. We apologise for the intrusive nature of some of these questions but when we act for you in buying a property we also act for your lender.

We have some requirements that we have to satisfy so far as that lender is concerned and a number of the questions that we ask relate to those issues. Some of the questions are merely for our purposes to help us contact you when necessary or to chase other people on your behalf. Please give us as much detail as you have available at the moment but do not delay sending the form back. Any missing information can be picked up later.

You should, of course, let your financial advisor or lender know who your solicitors are so that they can send us a copy of the mortgage offer when the time comes.

You should at this point also consider whether you are going to take out your own buildings insurance (unless the property is a flat) or whether you are going to take the buildings insurance offered by your lender.

If you are going to take out your own buildings insurance, this should be in force from exchange of contracts (except in the case of new properties). We will need details of your insurance before the date of completion, as we may have to pass these details on to your lender.

When we receive the draft contract from the solicitor acting for the seller, we will immediately send you as many of the following items as are available at this stage.

  1. A copy of the plan of the property. You must please check the plan and let us know if it differs from the situation on the ground. Remember that the conveyancing process does not allow for us to personally inspect the property.
  2. A copy of the fixtures and fittings and property information forms completed by the seller. If you have agreed to purchase any additional items you have a choice as to whether you wish to let us know and we can add it to the contract or whether you wish to make a private arrangement with the seller in which case we will not get involved.
  3. Copies of any guarantees that are with the paperwork. We can not comment on the validity of the guarantees. They are only as good as the company who has issued them. Some guarantees are only valid if officially assigned to you as the new owner. We can not do this for you. This will be for you to arrange, and pay any necessary fee, after completion.
  4. Copies of the title deeds with a note of any specific matters that we feel that we need to draw to your attention. The “covenants” that affect the property will be pointed out to you. They are important and if you think that any of them may already have been breached you need to let us know. A typical example of a covenant is “not to make alterations to the property without the consent of somebody (usually a previous owner or builder). If you are planning to make any alterations to the property after you have bought it and you think that this kind of covenant may affect your plans you need to let us know so that we can talk over the implications with you.
  5. A contract that you will be asked to sign. You should check that the purchase price is correct and that we have your names spelt correctly before signing where indicated.  This is the only one of the documents that we have sent you that we need back at this stage.
  6. A copy of any letter that we have sent to the sellers solicitors raising questions that have arisen as a result of our examination of the paperwork. Some of these will be technical in nature and some practical. If you have any questions that you would like to raise please fell free to raise them now.

During the course of the transaction you will also receive copies of any other correspondence that contains anything of relevance.  Sometimes this correspondence will come with a covering letter, and sometimes not.  If it does not come with a letter from us this is because we think that it will be of interest to you and it does not necessarily require any comment.

This does not mean that you can’t discuss the postal report with us on the telephone. It is very important that you fully understand the implications of what may be the most important purchase that you will ever make.

We may not telephone you unless we have anything of importance to discuss but if you feel that you have not heard from us for a while, you are welcome to telephone for a progress report. If we have nothing to report then we will say so but we are pleased to have had the contact and we can decide, together, if there is anything else that either of us could, or should, be doing.

We are often asked whether you should have a survey.  The only advice that we can really give you is that you are making the most important investment of your life and you should use this as an opportunity of making the fullest possible enquiries. This of course includes a full survey.

In the case of the survey that we recommend the surveyor will, as part of the survey, take a couple of hundred photographs which you can use later on for evidence should you need to make a building insurance claim later on. With the photographic evidence of an expert then it would be more difficult for the insurance company to argue that the problem was there when you bought the property!

A survey of your own may also assist you in making an argument for a reduction in the purchase price!

When you receive your survey you should read it carefully and if there is anything that you feel needs further investigation or if you feel that the price should be reduced then you will need to arrange this through the estate agents before exchange of contracts.  Any reduction in price needs to be notified to the lender as it may affect the mortgage offer.

We are happy to recommend the following surveyors: Tim Kenny and Rob Kenny

If you are obtaining a mortgage, it will be a requirement of your lender that we obtain for you an up to date Local Authority (usually referred to as just Local) search result. If you are not obtaining a mortgage it is up to you whether you have a local search or not. We always advise you to have this search.

The local search result will only cover the property that you are actually purchasing. It will NOT tell you what is going on in the local area or, indeed on your neighbour’s property. If we do have any relevant local knowledge then we will share it with you BUT we can’t know about everything that is proposed for the area. If you have any particular concerns please raise them with us specifically and we will see what we can find out for you.

If you are buying a property with open land around it please keep in mind that Government pressure on councils to provide more housing might mean that sooner or later it will be built on. The searches that we conduct can not find this out even if building is already contemplated. You could, if you wish, make a visit to the local planning office and speak to a planning officer who may be able to give you more information.

We can also carry out other searches for you at your request. One of these is an environmental search. This may give you some idea of the use to which the site was previously put. Some people find them interesting and others not so we will not do one unless you specifically ask us to do so.

The Local Search gives no information about the drainage situation of your property. A Drainage search would give more information about the route of the drains or if, for example, there is a drain running under your property, which might affect you should you wish to build in the garden. If this is a particular issue for you please let us know.

As soon as all of our searches and enquiries have been completed, unless you are also selling at the same time, you will be asked to provide your deposit. This can be in the form of a cheque or, preferably by direct transfer in to our bank account. If you wish to use this method please ask for our bank details.

By all means suggest a completion date although your seller may not be able to accommodate the date that you would like. It is better to try to be flexible, particularly if there are a number of people in the chain who will all have different requirements. Any date at this stage is only a suggestion. Please do not book anything until we tell you that contracts have been exchanged.

Once contracts have been exchanged your completion date becomes fixed and you are legally obliged to complete your purchase on that date.  The only exception to this is an “on notice” completion where you are buying a new property from a developer and the property is not yet ready for occupation.

Now that you are committed to the purchase of the property you should place on risk any insurance policies (life cover, endowments and buildings insurance) that you require.  Do not wait until completion. Wherever possible please make sure that we receive details of any buildings insurance at least seven days before the date fixed for completion. If you are obtaining your own buildings insurance and you have a mortgage, then your lender lays down certain requirements for that buildings insurance.  The following is an extract from the guide that we receive from the lenders setting out those requirements. 

You will need to:

  1. check that the amount of buildings insurance cover is at least the amount referred to in the mortgage offer. If the property is part of a larger building and there is a common insurance policy, the total sum insured for the building must be not less than the total number of flats multiplied by the amount set out in the mortgage offer for the property.
  2. ensure that the buildings insurance cover is index linked.
  3. ensure that the excess does not exceed £1,000.00.
  4. check that all the following risks are covered:- fire, lightning, aircraft, explosion, earthquake, storm, flood, escape of water or oil, riot, malicious damage, theft or attempted theft, falling trees and branches and aerials, subsidence, heave, landslip, collision, accidental breakage of glass and sanitary ware and accidental damage to underground services.
  5. check that you have insured against public liability.
  6. check that your insurance company will note the interest of your lender on the policy.

You will receive (time allowing) a few days prior to completion a statement showing the amount that we will need to complete the purchase.

Could you please make sure that you have your cleared balance with us at least the working day before completion.

On the date fixed for completion we will be sending the balance of the amount due for the purchase of the property to the sellers solicitor. In order that there are no hold ups on the day we will have requested your lender to let us have your mortgage monies the day before completion. This will mean that you have to pay an additional days interest but if we leave it until the day of completion then we have no control over what time the mortgage monies come in from the lender and that could make completion late (which will involve you in paying penalties) or indeed mean that completion that day is not possible.

When the selling solicitors receive the completion money they will telephone the agents and authorise them to hand over the keys to you. Strictly, however, even if the money has arrived with the sellers solicitors the seller has until 1.00pm to hand in his keys. You may be lucky and get hold of the keys earlier but this can’t be guaranteed so you should base your plans around a completion time of about 1.00pm.

If we are depending upon monies coming in from your sale to complete your purchase then 1.00pm may be a little ambitious and you may have to be patient for a little longer. It is not unusual for you not to be able to get in to your new home until late afternoon!

Some useful links to surveyors we recommend:

Tim Kenny Surveying

Rob Kenny Home Surveys