How long will it take?

An average transaction, where the purchaser requires a mortgage and there is a chain, will usually take between 6-8 weeks to exchange contracts. Then another 1-2 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion making a total of 6-10 weeks from start to finish. However, this largely depends on the length of the chain, generally the more parties there are in a chain the longer it will take, if only because this increases the chances of potential problems.

We will do everything that we can to progress your transaction as quickly and efficiently as possible but we cannot offer any guarantees regarding timescales – and you should not believe anyone else who claims they can!

How soon do I need to pay any money?

If you are purchasing a property we will ask you for approximately £300 (depending on the search fees in the property area) at the beginning to cover the initial searches. Credit will then be given for this payment in your final completion statement. The balance of the purchase price and the solicitors costs etc will be payable shortly before completion unless you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price in which case it may be required prior to exchange of contracts.

If you are just selling and not purchasing, we will ask you for an initial amount to cover the cost of obtaining copies of your title documents from the Land Registry. A credit will then be given for this payment in our final completion statement to you. The costs and agents fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you.

Do I need a survey?

Before committing yourself to buying a property we strongly recommend that you obtain a Survey Report. If you have applied for a Mortgage to assist you in your purchase then your lender will require a Mortgage Valuation Report prior to agreeing to the lend. This is not a detailed report and cannot be relied upon if a problem subsequently arises after you move into the property.

There are three types of report available: –

A Mortgage Valuation Report
This is the basic report referred to above which a Surveyor carries out for the Mortgage Lender’s benefit and simply confirms whether the property will provide adequate security for the Lender.

The Homebuyer Report
A more detailed report which gives details of all important aspects of a property, listing in conclusion any matters which particularly concern the Surveyor. The fee for this type of report will depend on the price being paid for the property. However, it is money well spent and gives the Buyer peace of mind when buying a home.

The Building Survey
The most detailed and comprehensive type of report a Buyer can obtain for a property.

How much deposit will I need?

It is normal for a deposit of 10% of the purchase price to be paid on exchange of contracts. If you are buying and selling we can usually negotiate to use the deposit which we receive on your sale in connection with your purchase if all your monies are held up – the equity of your existing property and you have no ready capital available.

Please note however, that even if a deposit of less than 10% is accepted by your Sellers solicitor, the sale contract will provide that the balance of the 10% deposit becomes immediately due upon the completion date. This means that if you fail to complete and walk away from the purchase, not only will you lose the deposit paid, but your Seller will be entitled to sue you for the balance of the 10% deposit which the seller was entitled to in law.

When do I need to arrange buildings insurance?

Unless the building insurance is being arranged by your lender or you are purchasing a leasehold apartment and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder you must arrange buildings insurance from exchange of contracts as the sale agreement will normally place the property at the risk of the buyer from that time.

The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building the property if it burns to the ground which is not necessarily the same as the current market value. If you have a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage your surveyor or the lenders valuer will normally giv e the minimum amount of rebuild cover in the survey valuation report.

What searches do you carry out and why?

Listed below are some of the searches that we can undertake. We will decide whether these are necessary in any particular transaction. If however there are any particular searches that you want us to carry out on your behalf please let us know as soon as possible.

Local Authority Search

This is essential and will reveal details of the planning history for the property, whether the Council is aware of any breaches of planning, also any proposals for new roads or traffic schemes, tree preservation orders, conservation areas and any other matters within the Council’s control that may affect the property.

If you know of any extensions/alterations to the property since its original construction, whether internal or external, it is helpful if you advise us at the beginning of the transaction in order that we may raise the appropriate enquiries of the Local Authority so ensure that the relevant consents were obtained.

Please note that this search relates only to the property being purchased and not the area. If you have any concerns regarding developments within the vicinity of the property, it may be prudent for us to undertake a Plan Search (see below).

Water and Drainage Search

This will confirm whether or not the surface and/or foul water drains run into a public or private sewer. It is often the case that the connection between the property and the publicly maintained sewer does not belong to the Local Authority and that it is privately owned/shared with the owners/users of that private connection accordingly. The search will also confirm whether the property is connected to the mains water supply.

Land Registry Search

This search is undertaken immediately before completion in order to find out if there are new mortgages registered against the property which have not previously been disclosed. If there are then we will obviously require assurances from the sellers solicitor that these will be repaid.

Bankruptcy Search

If you are funding the purchase by way of a mortgage we are required to carry out a search to make sure that are you are not bankrupt. Quite often this search will show an entry against a name similar to yours. If this is the case you will be asked to sign a copy of the result to certify that the entry does not relate to you.

Environmental Search

It is now recommended that this search is also undertaken. It provides details on the risks to the property from past and present contamination or pollution, an assessment of the risks of subsidence and flooding and details of any nearby toxic or explosive substances. It also provides information on local industrial and mining activities and on the location details of waste landfill sites.

Flood Search

Where a flood risk is identified it will map the information clearly so you can see how the property is situated in relation to flood zones. The report will also specify if insurance premiums are likely to be increased or if there will be difficulties obtaining insurance due to the flood risk.

Plan Search

Where you have concerns about development within the vicinity of the property we can arrange for this search to be carried out. It will provide details of planning applications within a radius of approximately 250 metres from the property.

Coal Authority Search

Where the property is situated in a former coal mining area we will carry out this search. It will reveal specific information about past, present and proposed underground and surface coal mining activities and details of claims or compensation paid.

China/Ball Clay, Tin, Bath Stone and Gypsum Searches

Certain parts of the country may be affected by other types of mining activity. Where the property is situated in such an area we will carry out one or more of these searches. The search will reveal mining activity that could affect the property.

Energy & Infrastructure Report

This is a search for a number of selected Energy and Infrastructure projects across the UK. Currently the report will indicate if the property is likely to be impacted by the proposed new high speed rail network (HS2), whether it is located within or near to areas licensed for on-shore energy exploration and production including areas licensed for hydraulic fracturing (fracking), as well as the location of existing and proposed wind farms and wind turbines across the UK.

Chancel Repairs Search

This is a personal search carried out at the National Archives in Kew. As well as hoping to identify the likelihood of liability in respect of a particular property, it will also identify the proportion of the total cost to be paid in respect of each liable property.

Radon Risk Report

This will confirm whether or not the property is situated in a radon affected area.

Canals & River Trust

Where a river, stream or canal passes through or adjoins the property this search will establish ownership of river banks and canals, liability for repairs of and maintenance of river banks and canals and rights of way affecting towpaths.

Network Rail

Where the property is close to a railway, this search will reveal any known defects in the infrastructure, any claims or rights that may affect the property or proposals for new rights or proposals to carry out any future works that may affect the property. It will also reveal any liability on owner / occupier for the maintenance, repair or rebuilding of infrastructure belonging to Railtrack.

Civil Aviation Search

This is a report on the aviation activity near the property including the location of the nearest airfields.

Ground Stability Search

This will provide an overall assessment of the likelihood, based on the data within the report, that the property will be affected by ground stability issues.

British Telecom

This includes details of any telecommunication infrastructure, rights or obligations affecting the property.

Virgin Media

This provides details and a plan showing the route and location of any overhead or underground wires, cables or any other Virgin equipment affecting the property.

Cable and Wireless

A report confirming the location of cable and wireless installations in the vicinity of the property.

What do we need to know if we are buying in joint names?

Joint Tenants

This is the form which most married couples adopt. It means that rather than holding a distinct share in the property the owners merely co-own the property and on the death of one part the property will automatically revert to the survivor. The property will not, in this instance, form part of the deceased’s estate.

Tenants in common

This is where each owner has a specific share in the property which, upon his or her death, will devolve either in accordance with the terms of his or her Will or intestacy rules. The size of the share held by each person can be agreed between the parties and need not necessary be a 50/50 split.

If you are putting unequal amounts into the property the person who is paying the larger amount can and often should be protected by a “trust deed” which sets out your respective shares so that in the event of any dispute or upon the death of one or other of you in the future your original intentions will be clearly recorded. Once you have considered the above options and/or if you require further advice you should tell your solicitor so that he or she can make sure that your wishes are carried out.

What happens with the keys?

These are usually left with the estate agents (if any) and the buyer collects them once the money has been paid over on the day of completion. If there are no estate agents (or this is not convenient) then the seller can hand them direct to the buyer or alternative arrangements can be made.