Residential Real Estate
Frequently asked questions for buyers
There are many questions which will arise during your transaction and we encourage you to call or email us with any queries you may have.
The answers to some questions that arise frequently are as follows:-
How long does a typical property transaction take?
The average property sale or purchase takes between 4 to 8 weeks to complete from giving instructions to moving in. Being in a chain can slow things down, as the whole chain can only move as fast as the slowest link.
How much deposit will I have to pay and when?
Most contracts require 10% of the property purchase price to be paid at exchange. In exceptional circumstances, a seller may accept less than 5%; however, the contract will normally require that the balance of a 10% deposit is paid if you do not complete the purchase of the property on the completion date. We will need to have cleared funds by exchange, ie any cheques will need to have cleared before the deposit can be used. If you are also selling a property it is usual to use the deposit that is received on your sale as the deposit on your purchase, and to request that the seller accepts this even if it is less than 10%. When buying a new property from a developer, you may be required to pay a small non-refundable reservation deposit.
What if I change my mind and no longer want to buy?
You can withdraw from the purchase of the property at any time before exchange of contracts. You could lose any money spent on surveys and searches. After exchange of contracts both parties are legally obligated to complete the sale/purchase. If you do not complete you can be sued for breach of contract and are likely to lose the deposit you have paid.
What kind of survey should I have?
Please note that in relation to the purchase of property and its physical condition, the law is “Let the buyer beware”. You must satisfy yourself by inspection and survey that the property you are buying is sound. This has to be done prior to exchange of contracts, as once contracts are exchanged you are legally bound to complete the purchase of the property even if you later discover physical defects in the property, and you will not be entitled to compensation. The most basic survey is the mortgage valuation, which is carried out on the instruction of the lender, and comprises a brief inspection of the property and an assessment to check that the property is of sufficient value to protect the mortgage company’s interest.
You may wish to have a more detailed survey, for example where the property is a listed building. We will be happy to recommend a professional surveyor.
Please click here for more information on the different types of property survey.
What happens on completion day?
Prior to completion we will make sure we have your mortgage funds (if appropriate) and the balance of funds from you ready to complete. On the day of completion the purchase monies are sent from the buyer’s solicitors to the seller’s solicitors by same day CHAPS. The seller’s solicitors will not release the keys until they have received the money. Most sales complete between 12 and 2.
Do I have to pay stamp duty and Land Registry fees?
Stamp duty is payable on all purchases where the purchase price is more than £125,000.00. The scale for stamp duty is:-
- nothing on the first £125,000 of the property price
- 2% on the next £125,000
- 5% on the next £675,000
- 10% on the next £575,000
- 12% on the rest (above £1.5 million)
From 1st April 2016 new stamp duty measures were introduced relating to second homes and investment property with different rates payable from the above. For more information on these please contact one of our team.
Land Registry fees must also be paid on a purchase: the scale for fees where the property is already registered is
- £20.00 for a price up to £80,000.00,
- £40.00 where the price is between £80,001.00 and £100,000.00,
- £95.00 where the price is between £100,001.00 and £200,000.00,
- £135.00 where the price is between £200,001.00 and £500,000.00,
- £270.00 where the price is between £500,001.00 and £1,000,000.00,
- and if the price is over £1,000,001.00 the fee payable will be £455.00.
Why do your fees differ for leasehold and freehold properties?
There is always more work involved in leasehold conveyancing. There is more paperwork involved in the purchase: for example, the lease and leasehold information (including up to date service charge, ground rent and buildings insurance details) obtained from the freeholder or managing agents. There are strict criteria that the lease must meet in order to be acceptable to a mortgage company. If it does not meet these requirements, the lease must be amended, which can involve additional expense for the seller.
How do I apply for a mortgage?
We can recommend mortgage brokers who will be happy to act on your behalf in finding a mortgage product that is suitable to your particular needs. If you need a mortgage to purchase the property, contracts should not be exchanged until an acceptable written offer of mortgage has been received; verbal confirmation from the mortgage company is not enough.
What happens after completion?
Once we have completed on your purchase we will pay the stamp duty on your behalf and register the property into your name(s). Once this has been done we will inform you and your mortgage company that the registration is complete.
Can you store my deeds for me?
Now that property is registered, there are often no original deeds anymore. However should original deeds be supplied by the sellers we are always happy to store these for clients in our central deeds storage unit.