Whether you are a buyer or seller, most property transactions involve the following stages:
- Exchange of contracts
- Pre completion
The price at which you buy or sell a property is for you to negotiate personally or through the estate agent. Any offer you make should be made "subject to contract" and "subject to survey" to avoid the inadvertent creation of a binding contract.
If structural problems are revealed by the survey the price can sometimes be re-negotiated. An estate agent charges a commission to the seller of usually between 1% and 3% (exclusive of VAT) of the sale price. An estate agent is not an essential party to a transaction but he/she can provide valuable assistance. Once negotiations have been concluded, a buyer should apply for a mortgage as soon as possible and arrange a survey.
Exchange of Contracts
This is when a binding commitment is made by both parties to the transaction and the buyer, through his or her solicitor, pays a deposit (up to 10% of the purchase price) to the seller's solicitor. As a buyer you should not exchange contracts until:-
- you have received an acceptable survey report and the result of any other inspections e.g. damp, electrical, drainage, and you are happy with the condition of the property
- you have a satisfactory mortgage offer if required and, if applicable, your application for life cover has been accepted by the insurance companywe are satisfied with the results of the local authority and other searches
- we have reported to you on the title to the property, e.g. freehold/leasehold, covenants on use, ownership and restrictions, ownership of boundaries etc.
- you agree that the fixtures and fittings list is correct as this document forms part of the contract
- we have reported to you on your mortgage offer and its conditions
- the wording of the contract is agreed including the date of completion
- the contract may stipulate that you have to make arrangements to insure the structure of the property to your satisfaction and that of the lender if applicable
- The Transfer Deed and Mortgage Deed will be prepared for you to sign
- We carry out the final searches
- We will prepare a Certificate of Title for your lender and ask them to transfer the mortgage money in time for completion
- We will prepare the financial statement and ask you for the balance of the money required to complete including Stamp Duty Land Tax and legal fees
- You will have to make arrangements to insure the structure of the property as at the date of completion to your satisfaction and that of the lender if applicable. Leasehold properties are however often insured under the landlord’s group policy with the tenant having to pay the landlord a proportionate sum.
- You should make arrangements for the utility meters to be read.
Completion is when the balance of the purchase money is paid by the buyer's solicitor to the seller's solicitor, the title documents are sent to the buyer's solicitor and the keys released to the buyer. We deal with the legal formalities and it is not necessary for you to be present at our offices at completion. However, you may wish to inspect the property before completing even if you are not moving in.
In any event, you will have to make arrangements to collect keys from sellers/agents.
On completion we deal with the repayment of your existing mortgage (if any) from the sale proceeds, the payment of any stamp duty land tax payable and registration procedures.
Once the registration at the Land Registry has been completed we will let you have a copy of the title to the property.
This is only a brief outline and for general guidance only. We will be happy to provide specific advice relevant to your individual circumstances.