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What is the process for buying a residential property?

 

When you are buying a home, it is critical that you instruct a legal firm with the necessary residential conveyancing expertise. It is also a good idea to know what is involved in the conveyancing process and to understand how it works. This allows you to ask the right questions and helps you to choose the right firm of solicitors.

As members of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), the Law Society’s recognised quality standard for residential conveyancing practices, Lanyon Bowdler has been helping clients with residential property transactions, and other property-related legal matters, for many years. 

Operating throughout Shropshire, Herefordshire, The Midlands and North Wales, our team are renowned for being friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable. With the highest levels of residential conveyancing expertise, allied to superb customer service and deep knowledge of the local property market, Lanyon Bowdler’s solicitors are able to provide expertly tailored legal advice whether you are buying, selling, transferring, or financing a residential property.

Lanyon Bowdler’s detailed step by step guide below allows you to understand the various stages of the conveyancing process, offers you an insight into what your solicitor will be doing when helping you secure your desired home and will help ensure you don’t suffer any unexpected surprises.

The initial steps

Once you have instructed a solicitor and informed them you wish to use their services, you should soon receive some initial paperwork. This will normally include details of their terms of business, a form requesting relevant personal details, information regarding your proof of funds and information about your stamp duty obligations. These will need to be completed, signed, and returned together with proof of identification and the required disbursements to cover the cost of search fees which, depending on where the property you are looking to buy is located, will normally be around £300.00.

At this stage, if you are buying the property jointly, you need to inform your solicitor of whether the property will be jointly owned as ‘Joint Tenants’ or ‘Tenants in Common’. It is crucial you understand both of the joint ownership options, as there are a number of key differences between the two and it is important you decide on the right option for the parties involved. 

  • As Joint Tenants, each of the parties will have an equal interest in the property and if one of the owners were to die, their share of the property would automatically pass to the surviving owner(s). 
  • As ‘Tenants in Common’, each of the owners will own a specific percentage of the property which they are entitled to pass on to any person of their choosing in their Will as part of their estate.

Next, you will need to inform your Estate Agent which solicitor you plan to use to allow them to send a “Memorandum of Sale” and “Property Particulars” to all parties.

Your solicitor will then write to the seller’s solicitor to confirm that they are instructed and to request the draft contract. The draft contract should arrive with a pack that includes various legally required documents, information on the title to the property and questionnaires completed by the sellers. If the property is leasehold a copy of the Lease will also be included.

You will also need to advise your solicitor if you have a related sale and instruct them in connection with that if needed.

Pre-contract 

Once the draft contract pack has been received, your solicitor will scrutinise the contract, the title deeds and the information provided by the seller. If this process highlights any issues, then your solicitor will raise them with the seller’s solicitor.

Assuming everything is in order and that any queries raised have been addressed, the contract of sale will be drawn up and a provisional completion date will be agreed upon. The final completion date will not be rigidly set until contracts are exchanged.

It is at this stage that your solicitor will conduct various searches on the property including:

  • Drainage Searches
  • Local Authority Searches
  • Bankruptcy Searches
  • Environmental Searches
  • Chancel Check Searches

These searches are intended to help verify the information provided by the seller, plus they are a legal prerequisite if the property is being purchased using funds from a mortgage lender. Depending upon the Local Authority and their current workload, these searches will typically take 2-3 weeks for completion.

This is also the stage that a buyer would ordinarily arrange to have a survey carried out on the property.

If the property you are purchasing is leasehold, your solicitor will send a standard Managing Agents Questionnaire to the seller’s solicitors, which they will then forward to the relevant Landlord/Managing Agents/Residents Association for completion and return.

Exchange of contracts

Once the relevant searches have been completed and any outstanding issues have been resolved, contracts can be exchanged. However, if the buyer is purchasing the property with the assistance of a mortgage, the solicitors are required to see a copy of the mortgage offer in writing. Your mortgage lender will not provide written confirmation of the mortgage offer until you have appropriate buildings insurance in place, so this is something that will need to be arranged.

On exchange of contracts, you are legally bound to purchase the property and the seller is legally bound to sell the property to you. Should either party pull out, the other will be entitled to claim compensation for breach of contract.

It is now that your solicitor will transfer your deposit monies to the seller’s solicitor. Generally, this deposit will equate to 10% of the purchase price.

This deposit is intended to act as security for the seller in the event that you decide to pull out of the purchase or are unable to pay the outstanding balance upon completion. If you do change your mind or are unable to pay the balance, the seller will be entitled to retain your deposit and may pursue further compensation if the deposit is not sufficient to compensate the seller for you breaching the contract. 

In the same way, if the seller breaches the contract and refuses to complete the transaction for whatever reason, you can apply to the court for an order to force the seller to complete. If that doesn’t resolve the situation, you are entitled to get your deposit back and can sue the seller for breach of contract. 

Either of these scenarios is financially unappealing for either party and therefore it is highly unusual for a sale not to complete once contracts have been exchanged.

Between exchange and completion

It is at this point your solicitor will draw up the Transfer Deed to enable the property to be registered in your name after completion. 

At the same time, your solicitor will conduct some final searches at the Land Registry to ensure all mortgages or other charges on the property have been disclosed, and to prevent the seller from registering any new financial charges on the property between exchange and completion.

During this period you should receive a final statement from your solicitor showing all expenses and giving you a final figure to cover all taxes, legal costs, and the balance of the purchase price. The appropriate funds will then need to be transferred, allowing sufficient time to ensure the funds are cleared in their bank account before the day of completion. If you are purchasing the property with the assistance of a mortgage, most lenders require a minimum of 5 working days’ notice to transfer the funds.

Completion

Completion takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms receipt of the balance of the money that is due. Once this confirmation has been received the keys should be released to you either directly by the sellers, or via the Estate Agents.

Post completion

Your solicitor will then pay any Stamp Duty Land Tax obligations, and upon receipt of the appropriate documentation such as Title Deeds and signed Transfer Deed, will register your ownership with the Land Registry.

Once confirmation of the registration has been received back from the Land Registry, if have you purchased the property with a mortgage, your solicitor will send a copy of the registered title to your lender as evidence that their charge has been registered. This will remain until such time as you pay off the mortgage.

This is obviously a considerable amount of information to digest, but don’t worry, your solicitor will be on hand to help navigate you through each step of the process. A key part of their role is staying in regular contact with you to inform you of any news and to advise you what you’ll be required to do next. The specialist Residential Property Solicitors at Lanyon Bowdler have extensive experience carrying out residential property transactions, so no matter what your situation is,  you’ll be in safe hands.

Contact Lanyon Bowdler's Property Lawyers

Please give us a call for a friendly chat about how we can help support your property needs, whether you're buying, selling, moving home, re-mortgaging, or considering equity release.

Our property experts work to the highest standards and have a detailed understanding of the local property marketplace.

There is no fee for our initial assessment, and we require no commitment from you at this stage, so please contact a member of the team or complete our online enquiry form on the right-hand side of this page.

By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for legal advice regarding your property purchase, or for other legal services relating to property matters, you have the reassurance that you have the best legal expertise on hand to ensure a smooth property transaction. We are committed to providing unrivalled levels of client care and will work closely with you and the other stakeholders in the conveyancing process to ensure everything progresses at the pace you need, whilst also making sure your rights are fully protected and catered for at all times.

We have qualified Residential Property Solicitors in our offices in Telford, Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Conwy, Hereford, Ludlow and Oswestry, so are able to act for clients throughout Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and across the Midlands (including Wolverhampton & Birmingham). As a leading regional full-service law firm, we can represent you wherever you live in England, Wales & Northern Ireland. Talk to our property specialist solicitors today.

For assistance with buying or selling your home or for expert legal advice on any other property-related legal matter, contact one of our conveyancing teams below.

Conveyancing Bromyard

Conveyancing Hereford

Conveyancing Ludlow

Conveyancing North Wales

Conveyancing Oswestry

Conveyancing Shrewsbury

Conveyancing Telford

 

Testimonials

Tim and Karen were excellent! Very polite, helpful and always dealt with our queries quickly. 

- Cherrie May Preece, Hereford

Knowledge of all issues regarding house purchase. Used you before four years ago and you're still performing to a high standard.

- Mrs J Ward & Dr J Jenkins, Shrewsbury

Using Lanyon Bowdler twice for two separate issues being completely different and both were dealt with in a complete efficient manner. My questions were always answered with honesty and explaination.

- Mr G Martin & Mrs L Rees, Bromsgrove

My impression from the start was of a friendly working relationship, very professional and willing to go the full distance for a client. The team was always available and nothing was too difficult for them to do. This was uplifting to know and gave good confidence in the work they did.

- Charles Forbes, Hereford

Very professional, but also caring. Never made to feel I was just another client from a heavy case load. 

- Valerie H H Holtz, Ludlow

I was competely satisfied with all aspects of the service.

- Mr S Taylor, Telford

The welcome at reception and the relaxed atmosphere when discussing things with the person handling the sale of my property.

- Mr W Ward, Oswestry

Direct line to acting solicitor.

- Mr H Williamson, Llansantffrraid