Conveyancing law: tips for buying a property

Choosing a property

When you are thinking of buying a property, make sure you view it at different times of day and at weekends. The tree-lined avenue by day could be a red-light district at night! A right of way could exist that is not on the title deeds. Check there are no gates or gaps in boundaries leading to and from other properties. If there are, tell us about them.

If you are interested in a flat, ask who owns the freehold of the building. Often, it is a management company comprising the flat owners themselves and sometimes the company has been struck off at Companies House because none of the flat owners have dealt with Companies House requirements. We can make preliminary checks before you run up expensive survey fees.

A house by a river is attractive but make sure you check the postcode with your insurance company to make sure they will insure it against flooding.

If you are buying a property as joint owners, consider percentage split of ownership now to avoid last-minute arguments.

Once you have chosen a property

If you are selling as well as buying a property, your selling agent may advise on the value of the property or properties you want to buy and sometimes they will negotiate for you.

If you are getting a mortgage, your lender’s valuer may be willing to do a survey for you at a discounted rate if the valuation and survey can be done at the same time.

Have you budgeted for Stamp Duty Land Tax/Land Registry fees?

Currently, Stamp Duty Land Tax is charged at a different rate depending on the portion of the purchase price that falls within each band rate, with zero charge for the first £1250,000. Please contact us if you want to discuss this.

Payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax increases to 15% if certain circumstances apply, for example, if a company buys a residential property. Contact us for more details if you want to discuss this. The HMRC are wise to fictitious apportionments for curtains, carpets, etc and they say they do check.

Intending to sell a property?

Your estate agent will advise you about an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and should be able to arrange this for you.

Sold your house?

If you tell your solicitors that you intend to sell your property, they will be ready to issue the sale contract immediately after you find a buyer. If you do not, there could be several days’ delay while deeds are obtained, property information forms completed, etc.

Sometimes removal companies will charge less for a removal in the middle of the week.

Completion day

However nice the person you are buying from seems: (a) don’t give them the keys until your solicitors confirm they have received the money and (b) tell them anything you are selling to the buyer (e.g. carpets) so the money can be collected. We will not charge you extra for collecting this money but we will charge for suing buyers whose cheques bounce or who simply forget to pay you for something.

If you are involved in a long chain, bear in mind that all the property solicitors along that chain have to receive the money from their own client’s sale before they can send the money out again for their client’s purchase. As a result, it can be late afternoon before keys are available for you and any benefits you got from your removal company starting at 6am will be lost.

Don’t forget to notify your, bank, building society, credit card companies, insurance companies, DVLA, doctors, dentists etc of your change of address.

For more information, please get in touch.

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