Buying Property

Buying Property (Residential)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.1      I have agreed to buy a property and would like to know how much your fees will be and what else I will have to pay.

We will provide you with a written breakdown of anticipated fees at the outset.  We will only charge you more than the estimated fees if there are unforeseen or unusual difficulties or “extras”.  If your purchase falls through we do reserve the right to make a charge for the work we have done. The charge will depend upon how much work has been done but we do try to be accommodating in our charges particularly where a purchase does finally go ahead.

Q.2      How long will it take?

There is no simple answer to this question.  Most property transactions involve a chain of sales and purchases and some or all of the people involved in the chain may require finance from a mortgage company. The whole process can therefore, take several weeks.

However, as a very general guide once every link in the chain has been made and solicitors instructed by all parties in the chain then, unless there are any unusual snags, completion of the purchase should take place within six to eight weeks.

Q.3      Would it help if I try and agree a time limit for exchange of contracts and completion at the outset?

This is not a good idea without first speaking to us.  Before we can give a realistic estimate of how long the transaction might take, we need to know from all the solicitors in the chain the circumstances of each party.   This information is not usually available at the outset.  Agreeing a date prematurely can unnecessarily put all parties under undue pressure in a transaction which is generally recognised as stressful.   Unless you do have a crucial deadline to meet try not to put yourself under added pressure to meet a date which may turn out not to be achievable. 

Q.4      What happens after I have found a property and we have agreed a price?

The estate agents will send us the details and we will start the conveyancing process. We will request from the seller’s solicitor the contract and other supporting documents including a form listing the contents which are included or excluded in the transaction together with a form completed by the seller giving some general information about the property.  We will also receive and check title documents and other papers.

We will carry out searches and will probably ask some additional questions of the seller’s solicitors.

Q.5      I am buying a leasehold flat.   What is the difference between this and a freehold property?

If you buy a freehold property, in law you are buying the land on which the building is standing, together with the air space above it and the soil beneath it, together with the garden (if any). Since you cannot own slices of air space, properties which overlap one another such as flats are nearly always sold as leasehold.  This means that there will be an individual or individuals or a company which will own the freehold of the site on which the building stands. The owner of that freehold creates leases for each flat in the building.    

A lease is a lengthy and comprehensive document which creates the relationship of landlord and tenant. This is inevitably a far more complex relationship than being the owner of a freehold property. The lease needs to make provision for:

  • repairs of the whole building as well as the repair of your particular flat;
  • insurance of the whole building;
  • the rights to use common staircases, footpaths, gardens etc.

You will almost certainly have to:

  • pay a ground rent to the landlord;
  • contribute towards the insurance;
  • contribute towards the services and repairs of the development

These service charges may be collected monthly, quarterly, half-yearly or annually.

Q.6      If I change my mind or I cannot go ahead is it too late to stop the purchase?

Not until there is a binding written contract between you and the seller.  Until then either of you may pull out of the transaction.  A binding contract is only created when, on your behalf, we exchange a contract signed by you, for a contract signed by the seller.  On exchange you pay over a deposit of up to 10% of the purchase price.

Q.7      When do we agree a date for moving?

Completion dates will be agreed between all parties prior to exchange.

Q.8      When will I get the keys on the completion date?

Usually the keys are left with the estate agent who is selling the property.   When the seller’s solicitors receive the balance of the purchase money from us, the seller’s solicitors will contact the estate agent and authorise them to release the keys to you. 

Q.9      How will I be kept informed of what is happening?

Both we and the estate agents will keep you fully informed as to what is happening as the matter proceeds.   Please let us know of anything which occurs which we should know about, for example, if there are re-negotiations on the price following an adverse survey report.  Do not hesitate to contact us if you have a question or something to tell us.

As noted above we appreciate buying a property can be a stressful experience.   Since we will be undertaking searches and enquiries on the property there may be periods of a week or more when we have nothing to report.   Rest assured we will contact you as soon as there is anything important to tell you.

Q.10    As well as buying a property I am selling.   They are both dependent upon one another.    Will you be able to tie them in together?

Yes.  This is the most common situation and we will ensure that the sale and purchase are co-ordinated so that you complete your sale and your purchase on the same day if that is your wish.   If you are moving a long distance however, it may mean that you will move into your new property the day after you move out of the property you are selling.

Please see Selling Property