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Frequently Asked Questions

Property - Buying a House (13)

Your solicitor will register the change of ownership together with any mortgage at the Land Registry. This process can take a few weeks. Once completed they will send you a document from the Land Registry to confirm that you are the new owners.

If the person you are buying the house from has used an estate agent, once we have paid over the remainder of the sale price on the moving date to the seller’s legal adviser, you should be able to collect the keys from their estate agent. If the seller is not using an estate agent, or if there is a reason the keys can’t be picked up from the estate agent, it may be arranged to collect the keys from the seller themselves.

Your solicitor will let you know as soon as their solicitor has confirmed that you can pick up the keys.

The sale contract will state that the handover of keys should take place no longer than 1pm, however, in practice, depending on the chain and size of chain, this can happen after 1pm.

Your solicitor will let you know how much money they need to complete the purchase and you will need to ensure that they have the money in cleared finds before the moving date otherwise you risk defaulting under the terms of the contract.

The money has to be cleared funds, which is money that can actually be spent so you may need to plan ahead; cheques take 5 working days to clear, some online bank accounts only let you transfer a maximum of £10,000 a day. You can organise a funds transfer from your local branch, but remember that we will ask you for identification such as your passport or drivers license. 

The completion date is the moving date and is the date when the remainder of the sale price is paid over to the seller’s solicitor and the seller must move out of the property and hand over the keys to the buyer.

You become responsible for your new property from the day you exchange contracts, not the day you move in. It is therefore advisable that you have in place building insurance on your new property from this date even though you are not living in it yet.

Do not cancel the insurance on the property you are selling, however, until after the moving date.

Most property purchases and sales are part of a chain, that is where there are a number of buyers and sellers that are depending on each other for the sale to take place.

Chains can be difficult to avoid and can be very difficult to deal with as it can only take one party in the chain to not move on a particular date and the whole chains stops. We will make sure you are kept informed of any problems in the chain but whatever happens, contracts can only be exchanged and moving dates fixed when all of the legal advisers in the chain are ready.

A good estate agent can be invaluable in pulling together the chain and make sure all parties in the chain are moving towards the same moving date.

There may be times when you need to break the chain in order to keep the house sale moving, if for example there is a delay at your end with your mortgage, but your buyer won’t wait, you may decide to keep to the moving date and move into rented accommodation or stay with family until you can complete the purchase on your new home. A note of caution if you do decide to do this as it is a risk and if your house purchase doesn’t go through for whatever reason you could be left renting or staying with family longer than you anticipated.

Exchanging contracts is when the deal becomes binding for both you and the seller. Until that point you or the buyer could pull out of the transaction without penalty (although you wouldn’t get any of the money paid in searches etc, returned).

Once contracts are exchanged you as the buyer are required to pay a deposit (usually 10% of the agreed sale price) and it is at that point that the moving date is fixed.

The purchase of a property is likely to be the biggest financial commitment you make and therefore, having as much information about that property is advisable.  A Mortgage Valuation is not a survey and often only involves a cursory look at the property in order to ascertain if its value is worth the loan the mortgage company is being asked to lend. 

A survey is a detailed inspection of the property’s condition. It is carried out by an independent surveyor who will be able to tell you if there are any structural problems, such as subsidence, major repairs needed, information about the state of electrics, plumbing and if there is damp.  The level of detail this goes into depends on the type of survey you have done and the price varies accordingly.

Types of survey:

Condition Report

This is the most basic survey you can get and is designed to complement the mortgage valuation. This uses a traffic light system and doesn’t give you any advice or a valuation.


HomeBuyers Report

This is a more detailed survey and the most popular type. It will tell you of obvious major problems such as rot, damp and subsidence. It includes a valuation and insurance reinstatement value. This survey is non-intrusive, however, so won’t spot problems the eye can’t see, such as rotten floor joists.


Building Survey

This is the most expensive but also the most thorough and robust. The surveyor will look into the attic, take up floorboards and drill walls. The survey will also include advice on repairs, provide estimated timings and costs and tell you what will happen if you do not carry out the repairs.

To find out more about survey options and to direct you to a local RICS (Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors) Surveyor visit the website

The mortgage company may decide to send in a valuer to the property you wish to purchase to assess whether it is suitable security for the loan (mortgage) they are making. This is done entirely for the mortgage company’s benefit and if they miss something serious, such as subsistence, they are not liable. It is advisable to undertake your own independent survey on the property to wish to buy.

The deposit is usually 10% of the sale price. If you are also selling a property we will usually use the deposit we receiver from your buyer as the deposit towards the property you are buying. If the property you are buying is more expensive than the one you are selling, you may have to pay an amount to bring the deposit up to the 10% deposit level of the property you are buying.

Once your solicitor is happy with the results of your searches and any other information provided by the seller’s legal adviser, they will ask you to sign the contract and pay the deposit ready for the exchange of contracts.

Searches allow you to find out more about the property you are buying. If you are buying with the help of a mortgage your bank / building society will insist on searches being carried out.

There are three main types of searches –

1) Local Authority Searches

This is where your legal adviser checks certain issues with the Council. These could include whether a road leading to the property is maintained at the council’s expense; whether the trees are protected or whether the extension that was carried out on the house had the necessary planning permission.

Local Authority searches will also reveal whether there are any monies owed to the Council.

2) Drainage and water searches

The main purpose of this search is to establish whether the property is connected to mains water and mains fouls and surface water drainage.

This search will also look to see if there are any public sewers within the boundary of the property. It is not unusual for public sewer pipes running across people’s gardens so it is important to check whether previous owners have carried out any building works such as extensions over these pipes without the permission of the water authority. If they have and the water authority needs to access that pipe for any reason it could be very unpleasant and expensive for the home owner.

3) Environmental searches

Environmental searches are designed to stablish whether the land the property has been built on is contaminated, such as being built on a former landfill site, or at risk from flooding or be affected by radon gas (a naturally occurring radioactive gas).


In addition to these three main types of search, depending on the property and location, there may be other types of searches that are needed including:

Mining Search

This is required if the property is situated in an area of previous or current mining history.


Transport Searches

If your conveyancer believes the property may be affected by transport related issues such as new road proposals form the Highways Agency, new rail or underground plans and waterways rights if the property is close proximity to a river, stream or canal.


Chancel Repair

This search will reveal whether a property is liable to pay a contribution towards the repairs of the local parish church.


Land Charges

This search is required when dealing with unregistered land and it details any bankruptcy proceedings attributed to the owner of the land.

When you purchase a property you will need a solicitor and one of their first jobs is to carry out the necessary searches. They will ask for the money to carry out these searches and the amount will vary depending on what searches are required and also what part of the country you are, as the prices do vary. Your legal advisor will then also advise you to have the property professionally surveyed.

Property - Selling a House (8)

Once you have packed up and tidied around, you will also need to take meter readings so you can pass onto your utilities providers.

The sale contract will usually state that you should move pout by 1pm. This time allows you enough time to pack up and move out in the morning and move into your new property in the afternoon.

We will telephone you on the moving day to let you know when the buyer’s money arrives and to check you are ready for the keys to be handed over. Depending on the chain you may find that the keys are handed over before or after 1pm.

Your estate agents fee will be paid by your solicitor out of the money received from the buyer. If the money is not received until late in the working day, your money may not hit your account until the following working day, but this is rare.

Usually all the money is transferred by bank transfer on moving day (unless you would prefer a cheque).

The sale Contract is an extremely important stage and the sale cannot proceed until it is done, but it does not make the sale legally binding.

Once you have signed the contract we will only be able to make it binding once the buyer’s legal adviser has confirmed that they are ready to exchange contracts.

Exchanging contracts is when the deal becomes binding for both you and the buyer. Until that point you or the buyer could pull out of the transaction without penalty (although you wouldn’t get any of the money paid in searches etc, returned).

Once contracts are exchanged you as the buyer are required to pay a deposit (usually 10% of the agreed sale price) and it is at that point that the moving date is fixed

Once you have completed the forms and your solicitor has forwarded to the buyer, the ball is in their court and delays can occur. It could be that their solicitor is still carrying out checks with the Local Authority or water authority, or the buyer may have some delays in their mortgage application.

It is not uncommon for the buyer’s solicitor to ask your solicitor a number of additional questions about the property that may be result of the information provided in the forms of from Land Registry information, for example you may be asked for proof that you received planning permission for an extension you had built.

Congratulations on agreeing your sale price. You will need to appoint a solicitor who will handle the sale and purchase (if required) They will send you forms to complete that are designed to provide the buyer with important information about the property they are buying.