Buying a Property - A Guide for First Time Buyers
Buying your first home is an exciting time. At Pearsons & Ward, we understand this can also be a worrying time as the process of buying a property or "conveyancing" can seem daunting and confusing.
We are here to help guide you. This guide for first time buyers will help with this process by explaining the conveyancing process and breaking down the steps involved.
The first thing most people want to know is "how quickly can I move into my new home". Unfortunately, there is no simple answer as there are many elements which make up a house move. The chances are that other house moves will be linked to your move. This is known as a chain. The more properties in the chain, the more people in the chain must be ready to proceed at the same time.
As a guide a chain of approximately 2 or 3 related transactions should take between 8-10 weeks.
- The Administration
- The Contract
- The Next Steps
- Signing Up
- Exchange of Contracts
- Completion Day
- The Last Leg
If you have not already made a mortgage application by this stage then an application must be made without further delay. Most estate agents will require confirmation of funding before accepting an offer on a property so making a mortgage application when you know what you are looking for is going to help to get your offer accepted.
Once your offer has been accepted then you will need to advise the selling agents of our details. The agents will then forward the sales memorandum to both the buyers and sellers solicitors to enable them to contact each other.
Communication is key.
Let us have as much information as possible from the outset. For example:
- which mortgage lender you intend to use;
- whether any of the purchase monies will be provided by people other than yourselves;
- whether there are any times that you will be unavailable;
- any times that you would prefer for completion or wish to avoid;
- details about the property that you are unsure about.
Once our file has been opened up we will forward to you our initial starter pack (which will include this guide).
We will require you to sign and return one copy of the Terms and Conditions of Business together with a payment to cover the cost of searches (see below) and identification documents for all parties involved. The ID documents will need to include one piece of photographic identification such as a passport or driving licence and a bank statement. We recommend that you call into the office with the documents to enable us to scan them for our records and return the originals to you.
It is the responsibility of the sellers' solicitors to provide the Contract and associated documents. These will include a copy of the title to prove the sellers' ownership of the property and Property Information and Fittings and Contents forms which give details of the property and what items will be included and excluded from the sale.
This process usually takes about 2-3 weeks. The Property Information and Fittings and Contents forms are quite lengthy and involved. It will take the sellers' time to complete the forms and you should bear this in mind.
When the Contract package arrives with us we will check the ownership of the property and ask questions of the sellers' solicitors, to clarify any issues with the information supplied. We will also forward to you copies of the documents including a plan of the property and copies of the Property Information and Fittings and Contents forms completed by the sellers. You should check through the documentation carefully and ask us about anything that you are unsure about.
We usually submit the Searches when the Contract package arrives. Searches are a way of asking questions of the Local Authority, the Water & Drainage Company and Highways Authority about the Property. An environmental search checks for any flood or environmental risk to the Property.
Searches will be required in all cases where you need a mortgage. In cases where you do not require a mortgage we would recommend that at least a local authority search is carried out in every case.
In summary the local search gives details of the property such as planning permissions and building regulations for any works carried out to the property, whether the property lies within an area which may restrict its use, such as a smoke control order area, conservation area or area of outstanding natural beauty. The search will also confirm whether the property falls within a contaminated land area or a compulsory purchase area.
The water & drainage search gives details of whether the property is connected to the mains for both foul and surface water and whether any pipes or mains run within the boundary of the property. The search will confirm whether the property is charged on a rateable value or metered and will contain plans showing the routes of the pipes and sewers located near to the property
The environmental search gives details of the property and the surrounding area and confirms whether the property falls within a flood risk area, an area which could be susceptible to natural ground subsidence or if there are any contamination issues in the area.
After the initial period of activity there will be a quiet period of about 2 weeks while the answers to the searches and questions are being put together.
Once the results of your searches are back we will then contact you with the results and raise any further enquiries with the sellers' solicitors that may arise from the search results.
During this time we would expect to receive your offer of mortgage (you should receive your copy of the offer at the same time as we receive ours). There is no need for you to forward a copy of the offer to us as our copy will contain the legal documents for signing. However we do not receive a copy of the valuation report with our copy of the offer and it would be helpful if you could provide us with a copy of the report.
Once we have received replies to enquiries, search results and your mortgage offer we will contact you to arrange for you to call into the office to sign the Contract and mortgage papers.
When you call in to sign the papers it is important to note that this is preparation only and will not be committing you to the transaction.
You will only be committed to the purchase once we exchange your signed contracts with the sellers' signed Contract.
At the meeting, we will go through the title documents, the mortgage offer and searches. We will go through the Contract and any other documents which you will be required to sign. It is important that you raise any questions or concerns that you may have at this stage.
We will also go through the cash statement with you confirming the balance funds that we will require from you which will include our costs, stamp duty and the Land Registry fees. Because of money laundering regulations we will require evidence from you as to the source of your funds such as a bank statement showing the monies in your account. It would be helpful if you could bring this with you to the meeting if not already provided when giving us ID documents.
We will then put your proposed dates for moving to the chain and once everyone in the chain is agreed on a date and everyone is ready to proceed we can exchange Contracts. This process can take time depending on the length of the chain and there can be some to-ing and fro-ing regarding dates if the dates are not convenient for everyone.
During this time we will ask you to transfer the balance funds to us in readiness for exchange of Contracts taking place. You will also need to have your buildings insurance policy ready to put in place as once Contracts are exchanged the insurance of the property is your responsibility. You should also consider havnig life insurance ready to go into force on exchange of contracts if you are having a mortgage.
Once we are in receipt of funds and the chain is ready we will proceed to exchange of Contracts. We will contact you in advance to ensure that you are happy to proceed. Once Contracts are exchanged you are then bound to the transaction as there is a contractual relationship between you and your seller.
Completion day is moving day when you can collect your keys to your first home.
We will usually ask your mortgage lender to send us the mortgage money the day before the agreed completion date so that we are not waiting for funds to arrive and can get you moving nice and early.
We will electronically transfer the funds to the sellers' solicitors on completion day. Once the funds arrive with the solicitors they will then contact the selling agents to confirm the keys can be handed over to you. Once we hear from the solicitors that the funds have arrived we will contact you and you can arrange for keys to be collected.
After completion, we submit a stamp duty tax return to the Inland Revenue on your behalf and pay any duty payable. We then send off the application for the property to be registered into your name at the Land Registry.
Once the property has been registered we will then send to you a copy of the title showing you as the registered owner of the property together with the title deeds and documents for the property which you must keep in a safe place as these will be required when you come to sell the property in the future. A copy will also be sent to your mortgage lender.
Solicitors for Buying Your First Home - Conveyancing Lawyers Malton, York and Wetherby
The residential property team at Pearsons & Wardcan provide clear, jargon-free legal advice. With over 200 years advising clients in Yorkshire, Pearsons & Wardsolicitors are ideally placed to assist you.