One of the first things you need to do when buying your first home is instruct a conveyancer, this could be a solicitor or licensed conveyancer. The best way is to choose a conveyancer is by recommendation from family or friends, failing that check out Google reviews and get at least three quotes from reputable solicitor’s firms.
Once you’ve decided on your conveyancer you will need to let the estate agent handling the sale know their details. They will pass this information on to the seller’s conveyancer, who will then send your conveyancer a sales contract. Until your conveyancer receives this from the seller’s solicitor they will not be able to get the ball rolling.
In the meantime, your conveyancer will have opened a file and sent you a pack of papers to complete. You must complete this paperwork and return it as soon as possible. Your conveyancer doesn’t know you; they cannot proceed without your ID and your answers to their questions. If you delay returning the paperwork, you delay your purchase.
When your conveyancer receives the sales contract from the seller’s conveyancer, and they have all the information they need about you, they will review the sales contract, make enquiries regarding the property with the seller’s conveyancer, review evidence of your finances, your mortgage application and apply for searches.
Your conveyancer will send you:
- a copy of the draft sales contract
- a TA6 form (outlining any planning permission granted to the property and information about the boundaries of the property) and
- a TA10 form about the fixtures, fittings, and contents that your seller has agreed to leave or not.
Please remember your conveyancer has never seen the property so if there is something you want as part of the sales contract it is up to you to let them know.
If you are buying a leasehold property your conveyancer will also send you a TA7 form which contains information about the lease, service charges, property manager, and who is responsible for repairs. It is important you read this document.
Your conveyancer will apply for searches these included
- a water and drainage inquiry made to the local water company.
- one made to the Environment Agency concerning any previous contamination, pollution, or flooding; and
- a local authority search, which covers any past or pending planning applications that could affect your property and the surroundings.
Each report is about 15 pages long and can take up to eight weeks to complete.
In Southport searches cost about £300 + VAT but can be upwards of £500 + VAT in other parts of the country. The results could raise questions for your conveyancer to ask, perhaps about ground rent if you are buying a leasehold property or issues with an extension.
There can be long waits for paperwork to come through particularly the searches, so it may feel like ‘nothing is happening’ but this is not true so be patient.
When your conveyancer has completed all tasks – mortgage offer ready to go, all surveys in, searches done, and all queries resolved – it is time for you to sign the contract and legally agree to buy your first home. Your conveyancer will send you the contract — you will need to read it properly, sign it (but don’t date it) and get your signature witnessed.
You will need to transfer a deposit (usually 10% of the property’s value) to your conveyancer (they will supply you with bank details always double check with them before sending any money). Once you have exchanged, there is no going back, or you will lose your deposit. If you have agreed a completion date now is the time to book your removals.
Before completion, your conveyancer will contact your mortgage lender to ensure they will send the money on the agreed completion day.
Once your conveyancer has received the mortgage monies and sent the full purchase price to the seller’s conveyancer, they will call you to say completion has taken place and you can collect the keys to your property from the estate agent. Usually this happens around lunchtime, but it can be later in the day depending on whether there is a long chain or not.
So that’s it, all you have to do is unpack and look forward to your future in your new home.
Your conveyancer however still has work to do. They will ensure the property is registered in your name with the Land Registry and will pay any stamp duty contribution to HMRC.