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The buying and selling of a house, how it works and who does what

SELLER – First they decide to sell their house, then they have to decide whether to use an Estate Agent or try and sell it themselves. If the sellers try to sell the property themselves they have to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate – if you ring us we can tell you how to get one of these. If the sellers go through an Estate Agent the Estate Agent will arrange this. Hopefully then a buyer is found for the property. The sellers then instruct a Solicitor, hopefully us.

We apply for the deeds from the your lenders and obtain copies from the Land Registry. We then prepare the contract which we send out to the buyers Solicitors. We send you a number of questions that you have to answer about the property and then you sit back and wait for the buyers and their Solicitors to do most of the work.

The buyers have to arrange their finances, get the mortgage, they have to get the property valued and surveyed, the buyers Solicitors check that the deeds etc and all the searches are okay. When the mortgage monies are arranged, all searches are done and the buyers Solicitors are happy with all the documents sent including the answers to the questions asked they telephone sellers Solicitors and try and agree a completion date, then contracts are exchanged.

Up to then anybody can pull out of the deal, then once contracts are exchanged a completion date is set and before completion we find out how much you owe on your mortgage or mortgages and make sure there is enough money to pay them off.

If you sell your house you have to make sure you have enough money to pay off any existing mortgage or mortgages on the property, get you to sign the Transfer Deed (used to be called the Conveyance) and wait for the money to arrive. After the mortgages and the Estate Agents (if any) are paid and our fees are paid we send the balance to you.

BUYER – First you find a property you like. Secondly you try and arrange a mortgage, you may approach a lender direct or may go through a financial advisor. The financial advisor or lender advises you on the financial implications, we do not.

The lender arranges for a survey or valuation to be done on the property, the more you pay for this the more you can expect from it, if you pay very little you get little guarantee as to the state of the building, the more you pay for it the more the surveyor should check the fabric of the building etc.

Then you contact Solicitors and make sure you get a competitive quote and you instruct them. The Solicitors then write for the contract, they get the contract, check it is all okay, check the deeds, then send off the local search, the mining report if appropriate, environment search if appropriate etc. They wait for the mortgage instructions from your lender. When they are happy with the deeds, happy with the contract, had the searches back and are happy with them and had the mortgage instructions we can then call you in, go through everything with you and then sign you up to the contract.

We then try and agree a completion date with the seller. Once that has been agreed and contracts are exchanged we then move towards completion. Completion is the day you move and the monies are handed over. We arrange to get the money from the lender, we ask you any balance, we do final searches to make sure that the seller has not put an extra mortgage on the property in the last few days or weeks.

Once we have got the money in hand and these final searches are done we send off the money to the sellers Solicitors, they send us the deeds. If you have to pay Stamp Duty we pay the Stamp Duty, we register the title of the property in your name subject to any mortgage or loan you have had on the property. The house is then yours.

THE CHAIN – All the above sounds simple. It gets very complicated when there is a chain involved. A chain means exactly what it says, it is a chain of people all buying and selling their houses.

Everybody in the chain depends upon the other people in the chain e.g. Mr. and Mrs A are first time buyers, they buy a property from Mr. B who has to sell his house to them but has to buy another house from Mrs C. Mrs C has to buy a house from Mr. D etc. Everybody has to be ready to exchange and everybody has to agree the same completion date.

Unfortunately, you move at the speed of the slowest. Usually the more there are in the chain the more complicated it becomes and the slower it becomes. There is nothing anybody can do about it.

The above description might make conveyancing sound simple, it is far from simple. It is very complicated and there are many many variations which make predictions regarding time scale difficult. This is a much simplified view of what we do but it at least gives you some idea of what is involved in the process.

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