Buying your first home is an exciting time but it can also be a very steep learning curve. Buying property is very different to buying, for example, a car because the English conveyancing system has a unique language and set of rules. Mysterious phrases such as exchange, completion and caveat emptor are bandied around but what on earth does it all mean and how do you successfully navigate your way through it all?
At Bray and Bray we don’t try to baffle you with jargon. Our aim is to demystify the whole process and make you feel as though you are participating not just being told what to do. We will try to have a dialogue with you to ensure that you understand what is happening and what you can expect, at all times throughout the buying process.
Questions about buying a house
In reality buying your first home is really no different to buying your second or third home but what is different is you. You haven’t done this before and you may well have lots of questions and concerns. We are here to guide you through that process and to answer those questions. We also try to offer advice on things you may not have thought about. The following are some of the questions and issues that most often arise for the first time buyer.
Should I have a survey when buying a house?
In the majority of cases the answer is yes and in fact it is one of the first things you should do even before you get too far down the line with the legal process. It is a very common misconception that your mortgage valuation will pick up any problems with the house you are buying. The mortgage valuation is only commissioned to tell your lender whether the property is worth the amount that you are paying for it. It won’t pick up a lot of things that may be wrong with the property and if you don’t have a survey you might find yourself saddled with some large and unforeseen repair bills. If you have a survey and spot problems early then you have a chance to either re-negotiate the price or to walk away.
If I do find something is wrong with the property after I have bought it, is my seller liable?
English property law is governed by the doctrine of caveat emptor which in plain English roughly translates to “Let the Buyer Beware.” What this actually means is that the seller does not have to point out to you what is wrong with the property. It is up to you to find out for yourself what the condition of the property is by having a survey and any follow up tests recommended such as testing the gas and electricity installations.
What does my conveyancing solicitor do?
Our job is to investigate the legal title to the property and ensure that you are able to fully enjoy the property with all necessary rights and without any problematical restrictions. We also want you to understand when restrictions affect the property and what you can and cannot do. Can you, for example, carry on a business or put up an extension (subject of course to planning). We also look at what we call compliance issues such as whether or not any alterations that we are made aware of have the relevant planning consents or whether the boiler has the correct installation certificate.
What are conveyancing searches?
A search is a set of standard questions sent to certain organisations that hold information about a property. What you need may vary with the area you are buying in, for example, a mining search in an area of historic coal mining. The standard searches, however, are a Local Authority search which asks about the planning history of the property, looks at whether or not the road abutting the property is public or private as well as local road proposals and some other matters of public record. We also carry out an Environmental search to look at land contamination, flood risk and issues such as local landfill. Finally, drainage search shows whether the drains are connected to the public sewer and in the majority of cases whether you have a sewer running through the garden.
What does exchange of contracts mean?
Exchange happens when you are happy with our report on the property, all searches are back and satisfactory, your finance is in place and you have agreed a moving date with your Seller. At that point the contract is exchanged with that of the Seller, a deposit of usually ten percent of the purchase price is paid by you and the whole deal becomes legally binding. The moving date is put into the contract and is now fixed and agreed. No-one can pull out without quite serious financial consequences. You now have an obligation to pay for the property on the moving day and your Seller has to give you vacant possession of the house.
When buying a house, what is completion?
Completion is the day that the legal process is finalised. You pay for the property, you get your keys and you become the legal owner of the property.
Talk to our conveyancing solicitors
If you are buying a house and need specialist legal advice, speak to our dedicated conveyancing team today.
Bray and Bray has three main offices in Leicestershire, contact us to discuss an enquiry or a case you have or feel free to pop in and see us at your local office by clicking on the links below:
Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.
Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.
Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.