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Guide to Buying

This guide to buying a residential property aims to explain the key stages of a transaction so that you know what to expect. A purchase of a property can be broken down into seven stages which are as follows:

Stage 1 – The Instruction
As soon as we are instructed, we will contact the seller’s solicitors to request the usual contract papers (the contract pack) which comprise of:

  • Draft contract
  • Proof of ownership (usually a title information document)
  • A property information form which comprises questions of a standard nature answered by the seller
  • A fixtures, fittings and contents list, again completed by the seller
  • If the property is leasehold we will also require a copy of the lease, along with details of the landlord and management company (often referred to as the leasehold pack).

Stage 2 – The Searches
Searches need to be carried out to make sure that the property is an appropriate one for you to buy. We will carry out a selection of relevant searches and assess the results to ensure that you aren’t presented with any surprises when your transaction is completed.

The search results should be back within 7-10 days of being submitted and allow us to report on any risks to the property from past use, or discover anything which may impact on the property value and your living conditions.

Stage 3 – Mortgage Offer
If you are having a mortgage, a mortgage offer will be sent to yourself and to us. There will be various conditions within the offer that we will review and report to you on, we will send this report to you along with a mortgage deed to sign and return to us.

Stage 4 – Enquiries Regarding the Purchase
To protect you in your purchase we will, throughout stages 1-3, also send a series of enquiries to the seller’s solicitors to which they will need to respond. These enquiries are related to legal points which need clarifying following on from review of the information received in the contract pack. Enquiries may also relate to questions about the day to day running of the property.

The speed at which the seller and seller’s lawyer responds to these enquiries will have an impact on the length of time that passes before we are able to exchange contracts.

Stage 5 – Signing the Contract
Once we have all the documentation listed above we will contact you to sign the ‘contract’. This is the legal agreement between buyer and seller which binds each to the transaction. You may come into the office, in which case your legal advisor will go through the details with you, or we can send it to you in the post with a detailed report on contract.

If you and your lender are happy with everything, we will then be ready to exchange contracts, subject to our receipt of your deposit. We will also request you to send the deposit to us which is usually 10% of the purchase price.

Stage 6 – Exchange of Contracts
An exchange of contracts is the process of creating a binding agreement on all parties to fulfil the transaction.

Once we have obtained your authority your solicitor will exchange contracts over the phone with the seller’s lawyer. The completion date is fixed only when the contracts are exchanged.

The biggest obstacle here is the chain of other transactions involved; this is the number of sales and purchases affected by your transaction. If there are several people in the chain, this completion date may require a good deal of negotiation so as to ensure no-one is left with a gap between the sale of their current property and the move into their new home.

Stage 7 – Completion
This is the day that you actually move house.

Prior to the completion date we will request the balance to complete from you and your mortgage advance from your lender. On the completion date we will send the balance required to your seller’s solicitors. Once they receive the funds, the keys will be released to you by the estate agents (unless other arrangements have been made) – you may then move in!

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