The home buying process is often labelled as being one of the most confusing journeys you have to undertake in your life. Some of the key challenges clients face result from a lack of understanding about what happens during the activity.
Set out below is a simple day-to-day guide to the conveyancing process when buying a home. It explains what you should expect and when you should expect it. It starts from the point when you get a property on a home accepted and continues all the way to that blissful day when you collect your keys and move in!
Day 1 – Offer accepted, instruct your solicitor
At last! All the research you’ve undertaken and the many house viewings you’ve organised have paid off! Your seller has accepted your offer! But don’t get too excited yet, you’ve just got to the starting line…
You firstly need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor then confirm their details with your estate agent.
You then need to instruct a property valuation from your lender, this is so they can make sure that your house’s value is in keeping with the amount they’re looking to lend you.
Day 3 – Issue sales memorandum
Your estate agent takes care of this stage, once they have solicitors’ details for you and your seller. They send out the sales memorandum to both solicitors (seller and purchaser), confirming your agreed offer.
Once they’ve sent out the sales memorandum, your property is officially ‘taken off the market’.
Your solicitor then sends you a number of forms, concerned with your ID, where you live and how you’re intending to pay for the property. You should complete these and send them back as quickly as possible to avoid any unnecessary delays.
From this point onwards, you can also expect to receive the legal pack from your seller. This contains things like the property information form, the fittings & contents form and various guarantees, warranties (including, for example, the boiler’s service record) and planning permission/building control documents if relevant.
You should study the legal pack carefully because it contains highly important details about what you’re going to buy! Your solicitor also examines all its documents and decides if any questions need to be raised regarding what they’ve found.
Day 9 – Mortgage valuation received, book survey and pay for searches
By this point your lender will normally have received the results of the valuation you paid for: fingers crossed that they then approve the valuer’s figure so you receive some happy news!
Once you’ve had confirmation that your lender’s happy to lend you right amount of money to proceed, you’re always advised to get a Building Survey to check the structure of the property.
Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchase you’ll make in your life – surely it makes sense to have an expert ‘in your court’ to check the property thoroughly for defects such as subsidence and damp?
Depending on the surveyor’s findings, you might be happy to proceed but equally, if defects are found or further investigations are required, you might wish to bargain for a reduction in price from the seller or even pull out altogether. The surveyor’s information is very important in helping your solicitor do their job.
It normally takes about a week after booking a surveyor before they carry out their inspection. They normally then provide you with your survey report within 5 working days after that.
You also normally pay for your property searches at this stage – your solicitor normally orders these for you.
These searches are also highly important for aiding your solicitor’s work: they reveal vital information about the land your property is built on and the immediately surrounding area.
If you have any questions or concerns about your property, this is the best time to inform your solicitor. They will raise these enquires will the seller’s solicitor.
Day 13 – Enquiries
At this stage in the process your solicitor may contact you to discuss any further enquiries regarding the seller’s contract and the legal pack.
They pass all enquires on to the seller’s solicitor.
Day 16 – Property searches
Your lender sends their valuation report on to you and to your solicitor. Once this is done your solicitor then orders the property searches mentioned above.
There are four main property searches namely: the Local Authority Search, the Environmental Search, the Drainage Search and the Chancel Liability Search.
Of these, the Local Authority Search is the most important because it lists local planning permissions granted, information related to building regulations and things like tree preservation orders – you need to know if, for example, there are plans in place to build or alter structures next to your property which might affect your enjoyment of it.
If you’re buying with a mortgage, your lender always requires you to get property searches but you’re well advised to get them anyway, for your own peace of mind.
Day 23 – Mortgage offer
Your lender sends both you and your solicitor the mortgage offer. By this time your solicitor should have received all of your search results. Hopefully no critical issues were raised but if they were your solicitor will inform you about them and raise further enquiries via the seller’s solicitor.
Day 26 – Reply to enquiries
At around this point, the seller’s solicitor will normally have replied to all the outstanding enquiries.
Day 30 – Issue report
Your solicitor gives you what’s known as a report on title, this is a summary of their judgement on all aspects of the information about the property which they’ve received. If you’re happy with the findings, you can then proceed to exchanging contracts.
A tip here is to remember to get buildings insurance in place for the day of exchange of contracts if you’re buying a house rather than a flat. As a buyer, you become responsible for the property’s structural integrity from this date.
Day 32 – Exchange of Contracts
Now we’ve got to the exciting part, the day you sign your contract! You have to pay your 10% deposit at this point and the seller also signs their corresponding contract. As a buyer, you’re committed to your purchase now; if you pull out, you risk losing your deposit.
Your solicitor agrees the completion date – when you pick up your new keys – with the seller’s solicitor.
Day 34 – Pay the completion monies
You have to ensure that you have the funds in place for your completion and that they’re placed in your solicitor’s account, ready for paying over to the seller on completion day.
Your solicitor ensures that both solicitors have the other party’s signed contract.
Day 41 – Completion
Everything is now completed, you can finally relax. You’ll pick up your keys and be able to move in to your very own home!