Buying a house is probably the single most important financial transaction that people make in their lives. It may involve committing very substantial sums of money to being tied up for many years. Therefore, it makes sense to ensure that the transaction is handled properly.
We are qualified in all areas of property law and can help you to avoid potential problems and protect your interests at every step.
Whether you are buying or selling a property it is important to contact a solicitor at an early stage as there is always preparatory work which can put in hand which will facilitate the transaction and save time.
What happens when selling a Property?
We will obtain your deeds, which may be with the building society, bank or other lender so that we can let the buyers solicitors have a copy. This is to show that you have title to the property.
Once we have obtained your deeds we will prepare the contract. The contract sets out the main terms of what has been agreed between you and the buyer. Information forms need to be completed with which we will assist and there are nearly always additional enquiries to answer.
Once the buyer and the seller are ready, a completion date is agreed and the contracts are exchanged.
On the completion date we will receive the balance of the purchase price and we will hand over the title deeds to the property. We will pay off any existing mortgage and any other costs of the sale for you (e.g. estate agents fees, our own fees) and the money left over will be forwarded to you unless it is being used to purchase a new property.
What happens when buying a Property?
Upon receipt of the draft contract, information forms and copy deeds, these documents will be checked carefully and the various searches carried out. Enquiries will be raised with the Sellers solicitor to clarify any areas of concern and to obtain comprehensive details of the property so that we can report fully to you.
If you are obtaining a mortgage, the offer will need to be checked very carefully to comply with any special conditions.
Once everybody is ready we will meet with you to go through all the paperwork face to face and answer any questions you may have. Then the contract and other papers can be signed and the deposit will be required at that stage.
If it is difficult for you to get to our office your transaction can be dealt with in correspondence.
Contracts can be exchanged and the purchase completed on the agreed date. We will pay any Stamp Duty Land Tax required and register your ownership at the Land Registry.
Should I have a survey carried out on the property I am buying?
There is a principle in conveyancing of “buyer beware” which imposes a duty on the buyer to find out as much as possible about the property before contracts are exchanged. When contracts are exchanged the buyer takes the property in the state it is in at the date of exchange. We will carryout the legal investigations but it is your responsibility to investigate the physical state of the property.
If you are having a mortgage your mortgage company will carryout a survey. However, unless you pay for a more detailed survey the mortgage company will usually only carryout a basic valuation just to ensure the property is worth at least the amount they are lending. Unless the property is less than 10 years old (in which case it should have the benefit of an NHBC guarantee) we would advise you to have a more detailed survey carried out. If the property is more than 80 years old or of a high value a full structural survey is most advisable. In most cases a “Home Buyer’s Report” is sufficient.
I have had an extension or I'm buying a house with an extension - what planning permission is necessary?
When a home owner carries out building works to their property there are two laws which they must comply with. The first is the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 and the second is the Building Regulations 1992.
Town and Country Planning Act
This stipulates that planning permission is required for “the carrying out of any development of land”. Development is defined as the “carrying out of building, engineering, mining or other operations in, on, over or under land”, or the change of use.
Small scale alterations and additions to a property can fall within the Town and Country (General Permitted Development) Order 1995.
Whenever building works are carried out the works must comply with the Building Regulations. This requires the home owner to submit plans to the Council who will on completion of the works issue a certificate of compliance.
The Council can take enforcement action where there are breaches of the Regulations. This is a notice requiring the works to be altered or removed to comply with the Regulations. The Council may even carryout the works itself and recover the cost from the home owner. If the Council intends to take action as a consequence of a breach of the Regulations it must do so within 12 months of the breach. However, after the 12 month period the Council or any third party may apply to the Court for an injunction to force the home owner to rectify the breach.
The Council would normally make such application where it considered that the works constituted a risk to health and safety.
What is an Energy Performance Certificate?
Energy Performance Certificates (EPC) have been introduced to help improve the energy efficiency of buildings.
If you are buying or selling a home you now need a certificate by law. From October 2008 EPCs are be required whenever a building is built, sold or rented out. The certificate provides ‘A’ to ‘G’ ratings for the building, with ‘A’ being the most energy efficient and ‘G’ being the least, with the average up to now being ‘D’.
Accredited energy assessors produce EPCs alongside an associated report which suggests improvements to make a building more energy efficient.