Purchasing a property

We can act on behalf of you in relation to the purchase or sale of the residential or commercial property although it is freehold title or leasehold title.

IF you are purchasing first time property and you wish we can act for you we are more than happy to act on behalf of you if you wish. we might give you a discount off our usual conveyancing fees. Even if you haven't actually found your perfect property yet, we can have everything in place so that when you are in a position to make an offer we can act as quickly as possible to secure your purchase.

Whether you are purchasing a residential or commercial property, first time-buyer or looking at a new build, this is a summary of the type of work we will undertake for you.

Stage one: -

We will receive bundle of documents from the seller solicitors

Pre-exchange of Contract:

Pre-exchange of Contract of enquiries
report on Tittle to the client and informs them of all legal matters
Request for searches: - as local authority, water and drainage, environmental and chancel check search (if appropriate) and requests payment from you for the searches.
Gathers responses to any questions you may have regarding the purchase of the property, liaising with Estate Agent or the seller's solicitors as appropriate. Presents you with the contract for signing.
Receives mortgage offer.
Collates results of the searches and deals with any queries/missing information as necessary

Instance Pre-Contract Enquiries
           (Before exchange of contract Enquires)

The purpose of this episode is to offer some useful wording for pre-contract enquiries which might need to be raised in respect of some of the more common issues not covered by the Sellers Property Information Form, Sellers Leasehold Information Form or by standard searches. 

Building Regulations

Where replacement windows have been fitted

"Please advise when the replacement windows were fitted. If after 31st March 2002 please supply a copy of the requisite FENSA certificate together with a copy of the 10 year guarantee"

Electrical works

"Please advise whether any electrical works have been carried out to the property since 31st December 2004. If so, please supply a copy of the necessary Part P certificate"

Note: - this enquiry should be raised in all cases as the Sellers Property Information Form has yet to be updated to incorporate it

Drainage & Water
Where the property is served by a septic tank
"In relation to the septic tank please let us have replies to the following: -

a) Please mark the location of the tank on a copy of the filed plan
b) Unless the tank is within the boundary of the property please provide evidence of the necessary rights of drainage and access for repair
c) With how many properties is the tank shared?
d) Unless the tank exclusively serves this property, what arrangements are in place with respect to maintenance, repair and emptying costs?
e) How often should the tank be emptied?
f) When was it last emptied and what was the cost?
g) Please provide details of the company usually employed to empty the tank
h) When was it last serviced/inspected?
i) So far as the seller is aware, are there any outstanding items of repair or maintenance in respect of the tank?"

Where the property is connected to a private sewage treatment plant or cesspool

"In relation to the sewage treatment plant please let us have replies to the following: -

Please mark the location of the plant on a copy of the filed plan

Unless the plant is within the boundary of the property please provide evidence of the necessary rights of drainage and access for repair

With how many properties is the plant shared?

Unless the plant exclusively serves this property, what arrangements are in place with respect to maintenance, repair and emptying costs?

When was it last serviced/inspected?

So far as the seller is aware, are there any outstanding items of repair or maintenance in respect of the plant?

Please provide a copy of the Environment Agency's Consent to Discharge"

Environmental Searches
Where an environmental search has returned a failed result

"We have carried out an environmental search which has produced a Failed result. Please therefore let us have replies to the following:-
Is the seller aware of any activity either during or prior to his ownership which may have caused the land to become contaminated?

Is the seller aware of any remedial work having been carried out in order to decontaminate the land? Is any such work planned?

Has the seller or, so far as he is aware, any predecessor in title, received any complaint, whether formal or informal, from any person or body in respect of any contamination affecting the land?

Has the seller received, or is the seller aware of, any notices served by the local authority or any other public body in respect of contamination or potential contamination of the land?

5. If there are any then please supply copies of any documents either which the seller has or which are with the deeds regarding any remedial works which have been carried out to the property in respect of contamination"

Stage Two: Exchange of Contracts
Transfers your deposit to the seller's solicitors
Prepares final completion statement for your approval/review. Collects any balance of funds required.
Prepares the deed of transfer and mortgage deed for your signature.
Organises searches - bankruptcy and priority.

Exchange of Contracts

What is Exchange of Contracts?

This is when the contract becomes legally binding on both buyer and seller (note that merely signing it does not bind either party). It is so called because both buyer and seller sign identical copies of the contract and the two copies are literally swapped, or exchanged.

Pre-Exchange Checklist

Once exchange of contracts has taken place both parties are bound in to the contract, therefore it is vital that all outstanding matters are resolved prior to exchange taking place. The following is a list of items that might be required/checks that should be made before proceeding :-

Seller's Solicitor

        Is the contract signed by all sellers?
        Is the contract signed by any occupiers?
        Do you have provisional redemption statements for all charges?
Has a completion date been agreed?
Do you have a Transfer Deed  signed by all sellers? If not, will there be sufficient time between exchange of contracts and completion to have it signed?
If there are any Notices or Restrictions which are to be removed, do you have the appropriate paperwork in your possession?
If the property is leasehold, do you have an up to date statement of the service charge and rent account, or else is there time between exchange of contracts and completion to obtain this information?
Have you taken the seller's authority, on the day of exchange of contracts, and checked the completion date and sale price?
Does your client have a dependent purchase?

Buyer's Solicitor

Is the contract signed by the buyers?
Do you have a signed Mortgage Deed?
If there will be occupiers following completion who are not a party to the mortgage, are you holding an occupier's consent and waiver signed by all of them? (this does not apply to tenants)
Are you holding the contract deposit and is it cleared funds?
Has a completion date been agreed?
Have you advised the buyer that he will need to place his buildings insurance on risk from exchange of contracts?
If leasehold, has the seller's solicitor advised how much the apportionments will be, and if so have you collected sufficient funds? If not, will there be time between exchange of contracts and completion to collect the funds?
Have any mortgage offer special conditions been satisfied?
Have you checked how many days’ notice the lender requires to release funds?
Have you taken authority from the buyer to exchange contracts and checked the purchase price and completion date?
Does your client have a dependent sale?

Methods of Exchange

There are various methods of exchanging contracts, which are detailed below:-

In Person

Traditionally, in a time when both firms of solicitors would have been on the same high street, the two solicitors would meet and exchange contracts, and the buyer's solicitor would hand over the deposit, in person. Nowadays this will rarely happen. Even if the two firms are local to each other (and often they are not) it is easier to use one of the exchange formulae described below.

Formula A, Exchange of Contracts

When it becomes apparent that it was no longer practical for solicitors to exchange contracts in person, the Law Society came up with three formulae to deal with the problems this raised. when using formula A, which is quite rarely used, the buyer's solicitor will post his client's part of the contract, together with the deposit, to the seller's solicitor, who will then telephone (though he could instead write to) the buyer's solicitor to confirm exchange of contracts has taken place.

Formula B, Exchange of Contracts

This is the most commonly used method. Each solicitor holds his own client's part of the contract and one telephones the other. They go through the contracts to check they are identical and if they are they agree that the contracts are exchanged. The buyer's solicitor must then immediately send the deposit, usually by client account cheque, to the seller's solicitor. The exception to this is where the seller's solicitor has agreed that the deposit may be "held to order", that is to say held by the buyer's solicitor on the condition that it will be immediately released to the seller's solicitor on demand. This might happen where there is insufficient time between exchange of contracts and completion for the deposit cheque to clear in the seller's solicitor's bank account.

Formula C, Exchange of Contracts - Linked Transactions

This is similar to formula B, and indeed when completed it will be recorded as a formula B exchange, however it facilitates exchanges where there is a chain of transactions. The problem that arises with a chain is that there is a risk that a solicitor will exchange contracts on his client's sale property, then attempt to exchange on his client's onward purchase only to find that the seller's solicitor is not ready or that the seller does not want to proceed. This can happen even when the seller and his solicitor have previously intimated they were ready. This would of course leave the client bound to sell his property but with no property to buy. This problem is overcome with the release system. A chain will necessarily have a buyer who has nothing to sell at the bottom, and a seller with nothing to buy at the top.

The exchange process starts with the solicitor for the buyer at the bottom (we will call this position 1) releasing the contract to the next solicitor on in the chain (position 2). This means that position 1 agrees he will exchange with position 2 provided that position 2 calls him back by an agreed time to complete the exchange. Position 2 can now contact the solicitor at position 3 and attempt to exchange contracts, safe in the knowledge that if successful then position 1 is obliged to exchange with him and if he is not then he is not obliged to exchange with position 1. Position 1 does not have to worry about the possibility that exchange might not take place since his client does not have a dependent transaction. If position 3 is not the top of the change then position 2, rather than simply exchanging with position 3, may release the contract to him. If position 3 then cannot exchange with position 4, he does not confirm the exchange with position 2 who does not therefore confirm it with position 1, and so nobody is bound into a contract. I say earlier that there is always a time limit on a release. This is necessary so that the person giving the release is not bound indefinitely. The release should always expire on the same day it is given, since it is possible that something may happen overnight to make the person whose solicitor has given the release decide that he does not want to proceed. If the release has not expired that he is obliged to proceed. If a solicitor is taking the benefit of a release and then giving a release to the next link in the chain, he should make sure that the release he gives expires at least 15 minutes, but preferably half an hour, before the release he has the benefit of. If the two expired at the same time, or within a few minutes of each other, there is the risk that the solicitor he has released to will get back to him at the last minute to confirm exchange, thus meaning that by the time that exchange is completed the release he has taken will have expired and he may no longer be able to complete the exchange. Although the method of taking and giving releases is known as formula C, once the exchange is completed it becomes a formula B, and this how it is recorded on the contract (the rationale being that you take/give a formula C release so that you can then complete a formula B exchange).

Undertakings on Exchange of Contracts

Whatever exchange formula is used, there is an undertaking implied into all exchanges that each solicitor will forward the copy of the contract signed by his client to the other on the day of exchange, and that the buyer's solicitor will immediately forward the deposit cheque (save that for formula A the seller's solicitor will already have the buyer's part contract and deposit).

Where there is a chain of transactions, the deposit cheque will sometimes be passed straight to the top of the chain. This is because there may not be time for it to be posted to each solicitor in turn, who would then have to wait for it clear before posting it on.

Simultaneous Exchange and Completion

This is where exchange of contracts and completion take place on the same day. This might be done where the parties decide they want to complete at short notice, or where buyer does not have a deposit to offer or where both parties have been agreed to complete the matter simultaneously. 

Step Three: Completion
Pays Stamp Duty
Registers your ownership of the property with HM Land Registry
Sends deeds to mortgage lender (if appropriate)
Many people will buy and sell a property at the same time, so as well as dealing with the purchase of your new property, we will also deal with the sale of your 'old' property.