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Clutton Cox Conveyancing Guide: Simples!

View profile for Paul Hajek
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no more talking meerkats please

So you have found a property to purchase – your first, second (or last) home.

Whilst it is all very exciting the process of buying a house can be extremely daunting too and no doubt you have heard the rumours about buying a house being the most stressful thing you can do.

This two part guide aims to dispel those myths and simplify the whole process for you.

You have found my dream home – what happens next?

For ease we will presume that you have made an offer to the Seller (Vendor in the old days, a bit like LP’s and Albums old habits die hard) and that you have secured a mortgage in principle from your bank or building society.

Now it is time to instruct a Conveyancer or a Conveyancing Solicitor to assist with your purchase.

Sometimes the Estate Agents will recommend a firm but do remember to do your own homework as they may not be the best firm to deal with your transaction. You will need to feel at ease with your chosen firm and feel that you can approach them with any queries that come up throughout the transaction.

TOP TIP: Google the name of the Conveyancing firm-see what they are about

Most people then assume that the hard bit is done and that from now on it is a simple process and will only take a few weeks. Things may not be that simple:-

There are three stages in the conveyancing process, which we will look at in turn:-

Pre Exchange

• Exchange

• Completion



Pre Exchange

Prior to exchange your chosen firm will need to request the contract from the Vendor’s Conveyancing Solicitors, who will have drafted this from the Title Deeds for the property.

You cannot have a contract to buy property unless it is in writing or there is some written evidence of it.

This gives the Buyer (Purchaser) time to investigate the title and arrange mortgage finance before being legally committed and will also enable the Vendor to find alternative accommodation.

Whilst investigations are being carried out all correspondence should contain the phrase “subject to contract”.

This is used to ensure that both the Buyer and the Seller are not committed to a contract without having all of the necessary information.

Unfortunately it also means that “gazumping” can occur. Gazumping is the term used where a Seller accepts an increased offer from another Buyer.

Once your Conveyancing Solicitor has received the contracts, this usually takes around a week, the following will occur:-

• Your Conveyancing Solicitor will look through all of the paperwork provided and will raise enquiries.

Usually this is because the documents provided do not contain all of the information required or the information contained within the documents raises further questions. Once the replies to these enquiries are received your Conveyancing Solicitor will report back to you, by letter, over the telephone or in person.

• Following the abolishment of the Home Information Pack it is now the Purchaser’s responsibility to carry out Local, Environmental, Drainage and Water searches.

Your Conveyancing Solicitor will apply for any searches that are deemed necessary in relation to your chosen property and once the results are received a copy is usually forwarded to you for inspection.

The local land charges search will reveal any obligations of a public nature which are enforceable against home owners, such as tree preservation orders, compulsory purchase orders, listed building orders, smoke control and noise level orders.

The enquiries give the Buyer a more general view of what is going on in the area including details of such matters as roads, drains, sewers, planning, etc.

A local search varies around the country so expect between a couple of days and a few weeks to come back.

• A copy of your mortgage offer will be forwarded to your Conveyancing Solicitor and once this is received a report is made to you regarding the contents. You should check your mortgage offer carefully to ensure that the offer you received relates to the mortgage product that you applied for. You should also ensure that you are able to satisfy any conditions attached to that offer before you accept the mortgage offer, usually by signing one copy and returning it to your lender.

• Additional searches or enquiries may be carried out as required,

While your Conveyancing Solicitor is carrying out their duties you should consider having a Survey carried out on the property. It could alert you to potential, expensive, problems with the property.

In particular you should also check or preferably get professional advice on the following:-

• Wiring: old round plugs and switches generally indicate that rewiring is needed;
• Damp: look for blistering wallpaper just above the skirting boards; it could mean there is rising damp;
• Wood: look at the window and door frames and with a thumbnail see how soft the wood is. If it gives they might need replacing;
• Roof: have a good look from the outside. If it sags or there are several loose tiles you will need to know more;
• Brickwork: flaking bricks are going to let in water more easily. Check for re pointing. Climbing ivy can be very attractive but also very destructive.

If any of the above problems are present then your Conveyancing Solicitor will strongly recommend a full structural survey be carried out.

TOP TIP: Your Conveyancing Solicitor is highly unlikely to see the property so if there is anything that strikes you as odd or different you will need to make sure you mention this as possible. Common points to raise would be:-

• Other occupants. Your lender will require information relating to people, over the age of 17 who will live with you and, by the same token, you will have to make sure that anyone who has an interest in the house you have seen will leave before you buy it. You must get the names, therefore, of all grannies, friends, co-habitants, lodgers, etc.

The shared driveway, alley, rear access. Who organises and pays for its upkeep?

• The maintenance and costs of shared guttering, etc.

• Public rights of access over the land, or a neighbour’s right to use a path, etc.

• Boundaries. If they seem in poor condition find out who looks after them if possible because to clear this up now might save a lot of trouble later.

In Part 2 you will find out what happens at exchange of Contracts and at Completion and beyond.

This Guide is as it says “on the tin” a Conveyancing Guide

It should not be construed as legal advice. Please consult your Conveyancing Solicitor if you have any questions.

And, of course, if you choose Clutton Cox we’ll get right back to you.

Photo: Courtesy of www.fellowearthlings.com

No MeerKats were injured in the posting of this blog. The Meerkats used do not speak.  Thank Goodness

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