So you’ve made an offer on a place and it has been accepted. Now it’s time to get the ball rolling on legally transferring the ownership to you. Anjum Khaliq of our conveyancing team sets out the process…
The purchase pack is the initial documentation, containing terms and conditions and the client information questionnaire. Once you have appointed us, we send this to you straight away. We ask you to return the completed pack to us together with your identification documentation. When it is all received, we start the legal work.
Memorandum of Sale
Your estate agents (if applicable) will send us a copy of the Memorandum of Sale, which provides the details of the property, the amount offered and the name of the sellers and buyers and their conveyancers.
We will need to know if you are purchasing with the aid of a mortgage and, if so, who the lender is and how much you are borrowing. We will want to check if there is any element of the purchase that we are legally bound to report to your lender, for example if you receiving funds as a gift or loan from a third party, typically a family member.
The seller will complete a fixtures, fittings and contents form and provide specific details about the property. You will need to check the details and inform us if there is anything that needs clarifying.
Arrange a Surveyor
We recommend carrying out a full structural survey for the property. You should not rely on the valuation report issued by the lender’s surveyor as it is very basic and is produced for your benefit.
We will request searches which will include Local Authority Search, Environmental Search, Planning and Water and Drainage Search which are standard searches. If there is a particular search you would like carried, for example Crossrail or HS2 or a specific infrastructure matter, we will do that for you. See the story opposite for more about searches.
We will examine the documents provided and raise enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer before sending you a legal report. This will contain information about the title to the property and a preliminary draft of the contract and transfer for you to sign.
You should read the contract carefully, sign it and return it to us. The transfer is the legal document which both seller and buyer sign to transfer the ownership of the property. This must be signed in the presence of an independent adult (18+) witness. The original should be sent back to us. We will also report to you with the Mortgage Offer (if applicable) and will send you the Mortgage Deed for your signatures. The Mortgage Deed also should be signed in the presence of an independent adult witness.
Once you are happy with the searches and enquiries, we will require the deposit funds to proceed to exchange of contracts. This is normally 10% of the purchase price. We will account to you after exchange of contracts with a financial statement that shows the funds you have paid, the mortgage funds, Stamp Duty and professional fees and disbursements.
If you are buying and selling simultaneously, we would normally use the deposit received from your purchaser to pass on to your seller and, if required, will request the additional funds from you.
It’s important to have buildings insurance in place by the exchange date. This will be a condition of your mortgage lender and will protect your investment in the property and your mortgage lender’s interest as well.
Exchange of Contracts
When the contracts have been exchanged, both seller and buyer are contractually bound to complete on the agreed completion date. The conveyancers usually exchange contracts over the telephone and then send the completed signed contracts by post. Exchanging contracts by your conveyancer legally binds both parties to transferring the property, so you can rest assured the seller must vacate on the day of completion. Mortgage monies will be requested from your lender and the paperwork will be collated in readiness for completion.
On the agreed day of completion, we will send the outstanding balance of the purchase price which you have provided to us, including the money received from your mortgage lender, to the seller’s conveyancer by telegraphic transfer. As soon as they receive the monies, they will inform us and the estate agents and the keys can be released. The property will then be legally yours.
Application Land Registry
Once completion has been confirmed, we will pay stamp duty land tax on your behalf. We will also make an application to Land Registry with the change of ownership form called the Transfer Document signed by the vendor.
Once Land Registry has processed the application, you will receive a copy of the title information document showing you as owner. This usually takes a few weeks, slightly longer if the property is a new-build.