Date: 27 March 2014

Spring is in the air and we are in the mood to move house…

Although research has shown that the anxiety of moving house is one of the most stressful life events it can also be one of the most exciting times if you plan and understand the process.

Conveyancing involves legally transferring home ownership from the seller to the buyer. It starts when your offer on a house is accepted and finishes when you receive the keys. Understanding what it involves will help ensure there are fewer surprises along the way.

Jill Eddison, Chartered Legal Executive at Best Solicitors tries to break through the legal jargon and take you through the process step by step in an ‘easy’ guide to buying a house.

Getting the best for you

Always get a quote and use it to shop around for the best price and service. You do not have to use the conveyancer recommended by your estate agent as it is likely to be commission based and can cost you more. Your quote will be broken down into the conveyancer’s fee and disbursements – these are the mandatory charges legally required in all property transactions.

The first question on any house buyer’s lips is, “how long will it take…?” Jill suggests it takes an average of 8 weeks – stressing the ‘average’, as “no two house moves are the same.” Jill would also like to expel the myth that the house buying process is shorter for cash buyers and first time buyers; this is not necessarily the case.

 The Legal side

Once you have appointed a conveyancer they will write to your seller’s conveyancer to confirm they are instructed and request a copy of the draft contract.

Your conveyancer will examine the draft contract and supporting documents and raise enquiries with the other side. You will be expected to go through the forms the seller has completed and let the conveyancer know if you have any queries or concerns. Jill comments “It is always best to work with your conveyancer and provide all the information required to ensure the process runs smoothly.”

Property searches – these make up part of the disbursement charges.

There are things you may not know about the property just from viewing it with estate agents or even getting a survey. The conveyancer will do a set of legal searches to ensure there are no other issues you should be aware of:

  • Local authority search: are there plans for a motorway in your new garden & can you cut down the tree the squirrel is nesting in?
  • Water authority search: how you get your water and if any public drains on the property might affect extensions or building works.
  • Chancel repair search: will you be expected to contribute towards a new church roof?
  • Location specific search: Mining search is a big one in Yorkshire
  • Environmental search: did the plot used to be a landfill site?

Jill comments ‘a good conveyancer can keep your purchase together even if unexpected issues crop up’

Your mortgage and Survey (if applicable)

You will need to get your mortgage in place. This will include ensuring you have the financing available for a mortgage deposit. Your conveyancer will receive a copy of the offer and go through the conditions

You will want to have any other necessary surveys done. Whether you have a survey done and what sort of survey you choose will depend on your specific circumstances.

Before exchange of contracts can take place your lender will require you to get Buildings Insurance for your new home. You are responsible for the property as soon as contracts have been exchanged so it is in your interests to do so.

Exchanging contracts and completion

You and the seller will agree on a date to exchange contracts. Your conveyancer will exchange contracts for you. Once the exchange has been completed you will be in a legally binding contract to buy the property with a fixed date for moving.

On completion day

Completion is normally set around midday on the specified date although in practice this takes place when the seller’s conveyancer confirms that they have received all the money that is due. Once this happens the seller should drop the keys at the estate agents for your collection.

You can then move in…All the best in your new home

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