Property searches
In order to protect you and your lender, we are required to carry out searches on the property you are proposing to buy. These include:

  • The local land charges register, which details any obligations owners have to the local authority or government.
  • Other local authority records, such as planning decisions, road building proposals and rights of way. The search will only cover the specific property you are buying and will not give information on neighbouring properties or any planning proposals in the nearby area.
  • Drainage and water services to the property detailing whether waste water goes into a public or private sewer.
  • The environmental search, which investigates whether the property is on contaminated land or at risk from other environmental factors, such as flooding.
  • Chancel Indemnity Insurance to cover you against potential Chancel repair liability (repairs to local church).
  • The searches are not the same as a survey. Whilst the searches are a desktop study on legal matters affecting the property, the survey is a physical inspection by a qualified surveyor. We do recommend having a survey carried out. This is something which falls outside of the legal process and you should look to arrange it with a surveyor directly.

Exchange of contracts
This is the part of the process where you become legally bound to buy the property. This exchange of contract is done formally through a telephone conversation between solicitors. It defines price, date and the machinery of completion. Note the following:

  • Until the exchange of contracts, either party is free to withdraw from the transaction without penalty.
  • You will have to pay part of the purchase price to the us as a deposit. Either we or the seller’s solicitors will hold this until completion. This can be forfeited, if you fail to complete the contract.
  • The law on property purchases says “buyer beware” so it is important that you have inspected the property before exchange of contracts to ensure that you are happy with its boundaries and physical condition, as you are unlikely to be able to claim any losses from the seller at a later date.
  • Your buildings insurance should be arranged to take effect from the point that contracts exchange (rather than completion) because it is at this point that the risk for any damage to the property passes to you.

Completion date
The day on which you pay the rest of the money (having already paid the deposit) and receive the keys is called the completion date.