Ok, so you’ve taken the decision to purchase a property – what next?
You will need to make sure that the financials stack up. Can you afford to buy? Will you be accepted for a mortgage for the amount you need? Do you have enough money available for the deposit?
Once you are satisfied that you can afford to buy the property, you can begin your property hunt.
1. Find a property?
These days the most convenient way to look for potential properties is to use websites such as Rightmove, followed by Zoopla, and On The Market. You should check all three as it is wrong to assume that one website will have all properties on it.
You may also find a property privately, or by viewing print adverts by local estate agents.
Once you’ve found a house make sure that you view it in person at least once. It is better to view it on a few occasions at different times of day & different days of the week. This gives you a better feel for the location and neighbourhood behaviour.
2. We’re ready to make an offer! What next?
There is no set formula for submitting an offer. It is entirely your decision on what amount you wish to offer the seller. Things that might help you to assess an offer include looking on websites such as Zoopla which will list previous property sales in the area, any potential work the property might need, and how much competition there is for the property or the area it is located in. This will give you a bit of a guideline for what price will suit the property.
There is nothing to stop you making a low offer and seeing what the Seller responds with. It is a pure negotiation.
If possible it is worth having your mortgage agreed in principle at this point. To arrange a mortgage you may wish to search for the best deal yourself, or employ a mortgage advisor.
3. Price agreed!
Now you’re at a point where you will need to appoint a solicitor to act on your behalf. Conveyancing solicitors will almost always agree to work for you on a fixed fee basis. The fee is usually agreed before any work begins. It is important though, that you receive a formal quote from your solicitor giving a full breakdown of what monies will be spent where.
When choosing your solicitor you should be looking for a number of key criteria. A solicitor’s expertise shouldbe guaranteed, although sadly that is not always the case. We work hard to offer our clients the following:-
· We are approachable – you can call us, email us, or drop into our office in Liverpool City Centre. We will know you by name – you are not just a file reference number to us.
· We avoid using legal jargon wherever possible. If we do need to use it, we will take the time to explain it in plain English.
· We guarantee that a qualified solicitor will run your file from beginning to end.
· We are flexible – we will bend our timetable to your needs wherever it is possible too.
· We are proactive. In any given transaction, we strive to ensure that it moves along at the best possible pace.
4. I’ve got a solicitor – what happens now?
We will set up a file and send you a client care pack of documents. This will include the paperwork needed to allow you to formally instruct us to act on your behalf. You will receive a copy of our client care letter to keep, and a copy to sign and return.
Of course, if you have any questions at this point, you can always get in touch with us and we’ll talk you through them.
Once we receive the completed documents back from you we will update our file and write to the estate agent and the seller solicitors, requesting a draft contract pack. Whenever we can we will ask for this pack to be sent to us by email to save time.
What about my mortgage?
When we receive your mortgage offer documents we will review it and report back to you on its contents. We will ask you to confirm whether the mortgage offer is correct.
Once we are all satisfied that the offer is correct, then we will ask you to sign the mortgage deed and return it to us. When you sign the mortgage deed you must be witnessed by somebody independent – i.e. somebody who isn’t a family member, under the age of 18, or a part of the transaction. The witness must also insert their details and sign the deed.
When we receive the signed deed back from you, we will hold it on file in readiness for completion.
5. Reviewing the contract pack
The seller will send us a pack of documents which contain all sorts of information relating to the property. The pack will include:-
· Office Copy Entries – these are land registry documents which confirm who owns the property, since when, and whether there are any monies, rights or restrictions registered against the property.
· Draft contract – this will set out the terms on which the property purchase will be dealt with.
· Seller’s Property Information Form (SPIF) – this form asks the seller to confirm a wide range of information relating to the property and to their ownership of it.
· Fixtures & Fittings form – this document sets out what items the seller will be leaving, removing or offering to you for a fee.
· Guarantees – if there are any, the seller will provide copy guarantees or certificates for the property. Examples include FENSA certificates, damp proofing certificates, cavity wall insulation guarantees etc.
We will review all of the above information and report to you on what we think it reveals about the property. It is a certainty that we will raise a set of enquiries with the seller solicitors where we ask for more information or documents.
6. Property Searches
We will request a set of property searches for you. These usually include:-
· Local Authority search
· Water & Drainage search
· Environmental search
· Chancel search
We will review these searches and report to you on what we think it reveals about the property. As with the draft contract pack, it is a certainty that we will raise a set of enquiries with the seller solicitors where we ask for more information or documents.
7. We’re all happy with the information we have – what next?
We will draft a Transfer Deed (known as a ‘TR1’ form) and arrange for you to sign and return this document along with the contract. The TR1 is the document that gives effect to the change of ownership from the seller to you. Technically, a purchase isn’t complete until the Buyer solicitors receive the executed TR1 document from the Seller solicitors.
8. Exchanging contracts
Once we hold the signed documents, we will make sure that a date for completion has been agreed by everyone. We will then ensure that the mortgage monies will be released on the completion date, and we will send you a completion statement setting out all what monies have been received and how much is needed from you.
Once both buyer and seller solicitors are happy, we can exchange contracts. This is almost always done over the telephone. We walk through the contract with the other solicitors, checking that the information is correct and identical. Once we are both happy we verbally exchange contracts, record the details of the exchange, and arrange for a copy of the signed contract to be sent to each other.
We don’t often send the deposit monies to the seller at this point; instead we undertake to hold it in our Client Account on behalf of the seller and to send the full balance on the agreed completion date.
We will then call or email you to confirm that contracts have been exchanged and completion is contractually agreed for a certain date you have chosen.
For your own protection you should arrange for property insurance to start on the date that you exchange contracts.
9. We’re completing today!
On the day of completion we will have arranged for the mortgage monies to be released by your mortgage provider. When the seller solicitors have received the full purchase monies they will notify the seller to release the property keys to you. That’s it – the property is now yours & you can move in and enjoy your new property. Our job isn’t quite yet over though. . . .
10. Post completion work
We will register the details of your property purchase with HMRC, and pay any stamp duty which is due. We will also register your ownership of the property, and any mortgage provider’s interest, with the Land Registry. Within a couple of weeks you should receive an electronic document confirming the new Land Registry documents confirming your ownership.
Only now can we begin the process of closing our file. This doesn’t mean we’ve washed our hands of you, you will always be free to contact us if you have any queries. Don’t forget, all existing clients receive a lifelong 10% on all of our fees.