Buying a property, or selling your existing one, is likely to be the biggest financial transaction of your life. You need to know that it’s being dealt with by an expert team, a team that will guide you through the process, give you advice when you need it in jargon-free language you can understand.
For those buying for the first time, the process can seem daunting. It needn’t be. We’ll demystify it for you and explain each stage, step by step.
Based in Leeds, at Henry Hyams you really do get a personal service and we guarantee that your transaction will be dealt with by the same person from start to finish. We believe that a tailored, personal service avoids misunderstandings and helps to ensure the most rapid and cost-effective sale or purchase possible.
Our dedicated team have years of experience to help you if something unexpected occurs; they’ll give you level-headed advice and guidance to guide you through.
If you instruct us, we can contact you in a number of ways; from email to snail-mail, whichever you prefer. If your choose electronic communication we’ll be careful to protect your data and keep it safe. We use secure email systems and hold the Solicitors’ Regulatory Authority’s Digital Badge that only regulated firms can display.
Henry Hyams is an approved Conveyancing Quality Scheme practice (CQS). This ensures that conveyancing is provided in a quality and reliable manner
Before we begin any conveyancing work on your behalf, we will give you an estimate of the costs. We will also ask you to provide proof of your identity. If you are selling a property as well, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) will be required. If one is not already available for your property, it will be necessary to commission an EPC.
Obtaining the Deeds and Titles
To proceed with any conveyancing work on your behalf, we will need to obtain details of any current lender and copies of your title from HM Land Registry.
Filling in Forms
We will ask you to complete a range of forms depending whether your property is freehold or leasehold. These include a Seller’s Property Information form, a Fixtures and Fittings form and for leasehold, a Leasehold Property Information form. You should take care completing these forms as they make up part of the pre-contract package which will be forwarded onto the buyer’s solicitor. It is therefore vital that all the information you provide is accurate. If you have any problems completing these forms, we are happy to help you.
Drafting the Contract
We will then prepare the draft contract and forward it to the buyer’s solicitors as part of the pre-contract package.
Answering the Buyer’s Enquiries
When we have forwarded the necessary documents to the buyer’s solicitor, they will begin conducting various searches on the property. The buyer, or their lender, will also arrange for a survey to be carried out on the property. At this stage, we will, with your help, answer any further enquiries the buyer may have about your property.
Exchange of Contracts
Once we are in a position to proceed further, we will ask you to sign the contract. We will then be able to proceed to exchange of contracts.
Between Exchange of Contracts and Completion
There will generally be a gap of approximately two weeks between exchange of contracts and the completion date (the date when you must move out of the property). The buyer’s solicitor will prepare a draft transfer deed and send it to us. You will need to sign this once it has been checked. During this time between exchange and completion, we will also obtain a final mortgage statement from your lender, and the final account from your estate agent. This will enable us to prepare the final account for our conveyancing services and send you a statement.
The completion date is the date when you must move out of the property. It will be agreed between you and the buyer through your solicitors. To avoid upset and disappointment, it is very important that you do not make any premature arrangements regarding the completion date as the legal paperwork may not be ready in time. Things like booking removal vans should be left until after exchange of contracts – this is the only time we can reasonably say that the paperwork will be in place on a given date.
Settling the Account
When the sale is complete, we pay off your mortgage payments, estate agent’s fees and our costs from the proceeds. We then pay the balance to you.
Checking the Paperwork
The seller’s solicitors are responsible for preparing the legal paperwork relating to the property you are buying. We will request the Pre-Contract Package from them – this includes official copies of the seller’s title, the draft contract, and a complete seller’s property information form and fixtures & fittings list. If the property is leasehold, the seller solicitors will also provide a copy of the lease and leasehold property information form. When we receive the pack, we will check for anything that will affect the property (restrictions or other matters) and advise you of them.
Depending on the location of the property and the requirements of your mortgage lender, we may undertake a number of different searches relating to the property:
This search is nearly always necessary. It is conducted with the Local Authority and looks into matters like planning permissions, environmental health matters, compulsory purchase orders, tree preservation orders, highways and roads proposals, and enforcements. This will only reveal matters related to the specific property you are buying. We do not normally undertake searches regarding other properties in the area, however you may wish us to undertake a plan search, which will reveal any planning applications and land usage policies for the neighbouring properties and the surrounding area.
This search is often a requirement of lenders and is undertaken where the Local Search does not contain information regarding the property’s drainage arrangements, or if there is a doubt about the property’s connection to mains drainage and sewers.
This search may be necessary in order to check whether the property you are buying could be affected by things like subsidence, flooding or landslide. It also provides information on matters like contaminated sites, air quality, and landfill and waste sites in the vicinity of the property. In some cases, an environmental search could be invaluable. When a Local Authority identifies a contaminated site, it can demand that action be taken to decontaminate it. Whilst liability primarily falls on the party that caused the contamination, if they cannot be found, the burden often falls on the current owner of the land. Compliance with the Local Authority’s requirements can be expensive and the costs can exceed the value of the property.
Coal Mining Search
This search is relevant in coal mining areas, like parts of Yorkshire. It is a paper-based report and does not involve physical inspection of the property. It will reveal information such as the location of old coal mine shafts.
Checking Planning Permission and Building Regulations
If you know, or think, that the property you are buying has been altered or extended in any way, you should let us know so that we can check and ensure that the correct planning permission and building regulations were obtained at the time, and that there is no breach of any restriction.
Checking your Mortgage Offer
You will receive a written confirmation of your mortgage offer from your lender. We will also need to receive a copy of the mortgage offer and any special instructions your lender makes before you can exchange contracts. You should ensure that over and above your mortgage you will have enough money to cover legal fees, stamp duty land tax (if it is payable on the property you are buying), Land Registry fees and VAT.
Stamp Duty Land Tax
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) may be payable to HMRC when purchasing a property. The amount payable depends on the purchase price, your personal circumstances and the circumstances of the transaction. We recommend you check the amount payable and whether you qualify for any reliefs (such as First Time Buyer relief) through the HMRC Stamp Duty Land Tax calculator. SDLT is always calculated based on the HMRC rules as at the date of completion.
In a domestic property transaction the onus is on the buyer to satisfy himself as to the property’s physical state of repair and condition.
It is always prudent therefore to have a survey of the property carried out by a qualified Chartered Surveyor and to obtain a written report from him. This is beneficial for one of two reasons.
If you are contemplating instructing your own Surveyor it is worthwhile making certain that you understand the nature and extent of the report which the Surveyor is going to carry out on your behalf. It is as well to establish if the Surveyor is agreeing to produce a report upon which you can safely rely or if he is seeking to cut down his potential liability if he has overlooked something by trying to impose some form of disclaimer.
If you are obtaining a mortgage to assist with your purchase then your mortgage lender will almost certainly carry out a valuation of the property for mortgage purposes. Although mortgage lenders rather confusingly refer to a “survey” they are in fact purely valuing the property as security for the potential loan. Even though you are responsible to pay the Valuer’s fee you may not necessarily be able to rely upon what the Valuer has said in his report nor to take proceedings against the Valuer if he has omitted something which he should have spotted because although you are paying his fee you are not directly employing the Valuer – the mortgage lender is.
It also follows that any valuation figure placed upon a property by the mortgage lender’s Valuer is purely for the purposes of the potential loan and is not necessarily a guarantee that the asking price of the property is a fair and reasonable one in all the circumstances.
Your mortgage lender may be able to offer a more detailed survey than a straight forward valuation subject to your being satisfied with such an agreement on the basis that your interests and those of the mortgage lender may not be identical.
If you decide to have only a mortgage valuation undertaken then depending upon the age and type of the property it may also be prudent to have your own specialists look at matters such as the roof, timbers, damp/wet rot/dry rot, pointing, sewers, electrics etc.
Except where a proposed mortgage lender requires otherwise the type of valuation or survey you carry out is entirely a matter for you.
Signing the Contract and other documentation
You will be asked to sign the contract, the mortgage deed and the stamp duty land transaction return. Once this paperwork has been completed and your deposit has been received (see below), we can exchange contracts with the seller’s solicitor, making the purchase legally binding. Once contracts are exchanged, we can begin preparing the final account and contact your lender to request the mortgage advance.
A deposit payment is payable at the exchange of contracts, even if you are borrowing most or even 100% of the payment from a mortgage lender. The procedure varies depending on whether you are only buying or buying and selling at the same time.
If you are only buying, you should consider this at an early stage as your mortgage funds will not be released by your lender until completion. Usually, you would be expected to pay a deposit of 10% of the purchase price, although this is sometimes reduced if you have a 95% or 100% mortgage.
Buying and Selling at the same time
Effectively, you will not be asked to pay an extra deposit at exchange of contracts, as we would generally pass the sale deposit on to your seller’s solicitors, even if this is not equal to 10% of the purchase price. You would only need to pay the whole 10% in the event that you withdraw from the deal and were therefore in breach of contract as this would be compensation for the seller.
You should arrange buildings insurance from the time of exchange of contracts, as sellers are within their rights to cancel their insurance policy on the property from this point. You may have arranged for buildings insurance to be provided by your mortgage lender – if so, your lender will take care of this for you. If you are buying brand new home, the builder will insure the property until the time of completion, so you need not start an insurance policy before the completion date.
The completion date is the date that you can pick up the keys to your new home and move in. Whilst you will probably be anxious to move toward this date, it is important that to avoid disappointment you do not make any commitments, such as booking a removal service, until the completion date has been fixed. We will advise you as soon as we are at a stage where the completion date can be arranged.
On the completion date, we will transfer the balance of the purchase price and the seller’s solicitor will forward the title deeds in return.
Stamp duty land tax is then paid, if applicable. Then, we will arrange to register the transfer of title with the Land Registry and, once the title is registered, arrange for the original document to be sent to your mortgage lender. This is the end of the conveyancing process.
Deed of Trust
If you are buying a property with a partner or a friend, and particularly if you are contributing towards the purchase price in unequal shares, we would recommend that you instruct us to prepare a Deed of Trust (also known as a Trust Deed) on your behalf. This will then protect your share in the property and record your rights and responsibilities towards it.
We are able to prepare a straightforward Deed of Trust which will detail the rights of every person with an interest in the property and the manner in which the property is owned. This will provide clarity and avoid arguments in this respect should a relationship deteriorate. This is crucial given that a home is often the most valuable asset a person will own.
Sometimes the title deeds do not tell the whole story about who holds an interest in the property. For example, someone other than the person named as an owner on the title deeds may have a property interest. It is often the case that first time buyers use funds obtained from parents to assist with their purchase.
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