Purchases

Coupe Bradbury Solicitors

What we will do on your behalf

  • Receive the intended purchase contract from your seller’s solicitors and approve this along with the documentation to which it cross-refers.
  • Make sure that the contract properly describes the land and property you are buying and the purchase price. We will send you a copy of the title plan to the property when one is available. It is essential that you carefully check the plan and advise us immediately if this does not correspond with your inspection of the property.
  • Raise pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s solicitors and negotiate any revisions which may be necessary to it.
  • We will look to exchange if we are satisfied that:-
  • You are financially able to proceed and in particular, have obtained any necessary mortgage finance
  • You have carried out all necessary surveys and inspections of the property together with any contractors reports outlined in a survey
  • All requests for local searches and enquiries received from the local authority are approved
  • The moving date is agreed upon with the seller’s solicitors.
  • Exchange contracts for the purchase – at this stage that you are committed to the purchase of the property.
  • Prepare the document which will transfer ownership of the legal title to yourselves and raise any further pre-completion requisitions from the seller’s solicitors.
  • Make the necessary pre-completion legal arrangements, including final searches, reporting on the title to the mortgage lender (if applicable) and where necessary supplying you with a completion statement and obtaining any money from you.

On moving day:

  • Receive the purchase money
  • Pay off your existing mortgage
  • Hand the title deeds to your buyer’s solicitors
  • Pay for your new house and receive the title deeds
  • Attend to stamping formalities (if applicable).

Register your ownership of the new property at the Land Registry. This can take some time although this will make no difference from your point of view. When the deeds are returned to us, we will forward these to the mortgage lender where applicable. If there is no mortgage, we will hold the deeds safely on your behalf or they can be sent to you. We do not charge for deeds storage.

Local search

This search comprises of two components:

Local land charges search

The results apply to the specific property in question, not the surrounding area. The search will reveal such matters as any financial charges for road works, tree preservation orders, smoke control orders, planning permissions granted, any restrictions on permitted development, orders revoking or modifying planning permissions to name but a few.

Enquiries of the local authority

This part of the search will reveal such matters as whether the roads serving the property are maintained at the public expense, roads and railways proposed within 200m of the property, planning applications made (including those refused).

The information revealed by this search will assist us in building up a complete picture of the property you are proposing to buy. In some cases, it may be necessary to make additional enquiries of the local authority and we will notify you if this is the case.

This search is specific to your property and will not reveal information about neighbouring properties or whether there are, for example, any proposed planning applications for land behind or adjacent to your property. If you have any concerns about such issues, contact your local authority.

Water and drainage enquiries

As this information is no longer available from local authorities, we will make an application to the local water authority serving the area where the property is situated. The enquiry will reveal amongst other things whether the property has:

  • Foul drainage to the public sewer
  • Surface water drainage to the public sewer
  • A water main within its boundaries
  • Connection to the public water supply
  • A statutory agreement is in place to erect a building or extension on the property over or in the vicinity of a public sewer or disposal main.

Again, the information revealed by this search will assist us in building up a complete picture of the property you are proposing to buy.

Environmental search

The environmental search provides essential site history and environmental information to homebuyers and vendors on properties in mainland Britain. The information included will help any homebuyer to make an informed decision about purchasing a property, including whether it will provide investment for their family.

The certificate issued within the search will provide clear and positive guidance on land contamination for mortgage providers, conveyancers, and homebuyers in the following areas:

  • Impact on the value of the property
  • Impact on the use of the property as a domestic dwelling
  • The likelihood that the property would be designated ‘contaminated land’ within the meaning of Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990

Specialist surveyors with expertise in Environmental Law and Science can appraise the impacts on all forms of land and property because of their training in property and valuation.

Chancel repair search

Chancel land accounts for approximately 40% of all land in England and Wales.

Chancel land and chancel repair liabilities can trace their roots back to Medieval times when every parish had its own priest or rector. The rector had a number of rights, including certain taxes or income from the land of the parish. The cost of repairs to the church was split between the rector (responsible for repairs to the eastern end of the church) and the parishioners, who were traditionally responsible for the western end of a church, where they sat.

Since these times, although the land may have been broken up into many thousands of small parcels, the liability for these repairs has continued to exist and has on occasion been enforced or claimed by the church.

Title deeds

These documents comprise of conveyances and/or leases of the property in the past and include any Land Charges searches. Details of previous local searches will also usually be contained within the bundle. The file will usually be in the possession of the vendor’s solicitor and will be handed over to us on completion.

Following the inception of the Land Registration Act 2002 and the de-materialisation of title deeds unless otherwise instructed we will forward your pre-registration title deeds and documents relating to the property to you following completion of registration. You must keep these in a safe place as there may potentially be documents referred to on the Official Copy of Register Entries that the Land Registry will not have copies of and therefore these documents will be required should you either sell or re-mortgage the property in the future.

Official Copy Entries

These are essentially the modern equivalent of title deeds. If the title to the property is registered then there will be an Official Copy of Register Entries at Land Registry. This document gives a description of the property, details who the registered proprietors are and on what basis the property is held, and also shows any charges on the property by way of restrictive covenants and/or financial charges for example to a Bank or Building Society.

Following completion, we will make an application to Land Registry to have the Official Copy Entries on the property in question updated so that the sellers’ names are removed as are details of their mortgages and your own names and mortgage (if applicable) noted on the title.

You will receive a copy of the up-to-date official copy of register entries at the same time as receiving your bundle of pre-registration title deeds and documents as mentioned above.

Ground landlord

For leasehold properties, there will be a ground landlord who will usually retain the benefit of the covenants contained in the lease. The ground landlord will usually (but not always) be the company or person to whom you will pay your ground rent to.

It is common for the majority of leases to contain a provision regarding any alteration or addition to the property since first construction should not take place without the prior written consent of the ground landlord. It is often the case that for alterations such as extensions and conservatories the vendor’s do not have the appropriate written consent. In order for us to remedy this situation, if the alteration is fairly recent, we will usually require the vendor’s solicitors to apply to the ground landlord for retrospective consent for which the ground landlord will charge a fee (usually in excess of the fee they would have initially charged for giving consent to the alteration originally).

The other alternative would be for the vendor’s solicitors to make arrangements to put into place a suitable indemnity policy to cover the breach of covenant on completion. In any event, when acquiring a Leasehold property it will be necessary to serve a Notice of Transfer (and charge – if you are having a mortgage) on the ground landlord following completion. An indication of the ground landlord’s charge will be shown on your completion statement.

Contract

This document sets out the formalities of the transaction and incorporates the standard conditions of sale. These are common to every conveyancing transaction in England and Wales. There are also special conditions attached to the contract, an example of which is protecting your position with regard to vacant possession on completion. You will be asked to sign an engrossment of this document prior to the exchange of contracts.

We should advise that on the exchange of contracts you will be legally obliged to complete your purchase of the property and you cannot withdraw without incurring an action for breach of contract. It is therefore essential that you do not instruct us to exchange contracts until such time as you are fully satisfied that you wish to proceed. On exchange of contracts, 10% of the purchase price is payable by a deposit and the balance of 90% is paid on completion. The Seller’s Solicitor may be prepared to accept a reduced deposit from you but if you withdraw after contracts have been exchanged, then you will lose not only the deposit you have paid but also the balance of the 10% that should have been paid.

There are also other penalties involved in a breach of contract which is unavoidable.

Purchase Deed (Form TR1)

This form is the document that transfers the legal title of the property to you. It contains similar information to the contract and will be submitted by us with your application for registration at Land Registry following completion. You will be asked to sign an engrossment of this document prior to completion.

Exchange of contracts

This occurs when the vendor’s and purchaser’s solicitors are holding signed contracts and are both satisfied as to the properties title and any other miscellaneous points. Having received your authority to exchange your solicitor will proceed to exchange contracts. Once this has been done you will have entered into a legally binding agreement with the other party to the transaction.

Structural guarantee (NHBC/Zurich etc) – New builds only

Some form of structural guarantee should be offered with a newly built property – otherwise, a purchaser may not be able to secure a mortgage. The NHBC ‘Buildmark’ scheme provides a two-part guarantee. The developer agrees to be responsible to remedy all defects which occur within two years of purchase. In the case of default, the NHBC will step in. If the developer were to become insolvent before completion of the house, the NHBC will make good any loss to a buyer, for example in respect of the deposit.

After the first two years, the NHBC provides an insurance-style guarantee that it will rectify specified structural defects arising in the house for the next eight years. There is thus a 10-year guarantee offered. In the case of houses registered with NHBC after 1 April 1999 the cover will also include the cost of cleaning up any contamination in the land on which the house was built. Similar insurance backed schemes are offered by, for example, Zurich Mutual Newbuild.

New developments

As well as ensuring the appropriate structural guarantee is in place, we will ensure that suitable standards have been reached in relation to the estate roads and water and drainage facilities so allowing the local authorities to become responsible for these facilities in the future. This is done by ensuring the necessary s.38 (roads, highways) and s.104 (water and drainage) amongst others, agreements and supporting bonds between the developer and local authority are in place on completion.

Stamp duty land tax

Stamp duty land tax (SDLT) was introduced on 1 December 2003. It replaces the ‘old’ stamp duty on purchases of flats, houses and other UK land and buildings.

Under stamp duty land tax, you no longer have to send your documents for stamping. Instead your solicitor, or licensed conveyancer, will ask you to sign an SDLT 1. All the information that HM Revenue & Customs now need regarding the purchase of the property should be completed on form SDLT1.

There are exemptions to SDLT based on your property is situated in a deprived or regeneration area but we will advise you if any relief is applicable for your transaction. In any event, such relief is restricted to residential purchases between £125,000 to £150,000.

There is also an SDLT surcharge payment of 3% of the property’s purchase price to consider where you are purchasing a property that will not constitute your prime residence.

The currently applicable rates of SDLT can be found via our conveyancing quote service or by visiting https://www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax/residential-property-rates.

Joint ownership

There are two ways in which the property may be bought or owned jointly:

Joint tenants – Both parties are deemed to own the whole property and if one dies, his or her share in the property will go automatically to the survivor without need for further legal documentation.

Tenants in common – Each party is deemed to hold, for example, one-half share in the house (this share can of course be adjusted to reflect circumstances such as different contributions to the purchase price). If one dies, their share will pass according to that person’s Will or intestacy.

The tenants in the common alternative are often thought to be an option that unmarried couples, couples with children from a previous marriage or couples who are making unequal contributions towards the purchase price may like to consider. There may also be tax advantages for holding tenants in common depending on the value of the property concerned.

We will, of course, in any event, discuss this matter with you at further length either during your attendance at our offices or throughout the transaction. We will however require your instructions on this point ahead of completion.

Buildings and life insurance

It is your responsibility to ensure that the property is adequately insured from either exchange or completion (please refer to us ahead of exchange). In the circumstances, your arrangements with regard to Buildings Insurance should be well in hand prior to the exchange of contracts. The property must be insured for at least the reinstatement value detailed on your valuation or survey report. This figure essentially represents the re-build cost should the property be destroyed.

You may also wish to consider having appropriate life assurance cover to protect your mortgage should you die, or indeed critical illness cover should you become unable to work and earn a wage sufficient to pay your mortgage. We are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority and therefore cannot give specific advice on such products, however, we may give generic advice throughout the conveyancing transaction and can provide you with contact details of individuals who could assist.

Completion of the transaction

This is the day you receive the keys from the agent and actually move into your new property! On this day all of the funds for the purchase by way of private finance or from a bank or building society will be forwarded by us to the vendor’s solicitor.

We will then pay the appropriate amount of stamp duty land tax to HM Revenue & Customs and following receipt of the SDLT certificate from the HM Revenue & Customs, will proceed to register your ownership of the property with Land Registry.

We always estimate that a standard purchase transaction will take between 6 – 8 weeks.

Joyce Schofield
Joyce Schofield Tel: +44 1772 683000
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