Guide To Buying A Property

Guide To Buying A Property


If you intend to commission your own private survey, and we recommend that you do, please supply us with a copy of this once you have received it.  

If you have, or will be applying for a mortgage, please provide our details to your lender and once received, let us have a copy of your mortgage offer and valuation report.  Please note that the valuation report that the Building Society/Bank will be carrying out is, as the name suggests, merely a valuation of the property and is by no means a structural survey, which would give you a detailed report on the property and would not therefore reveal hidden faults or tell you about the actual condition of the property.  If you know at the time you apply for your mortgage that you would like a structural survey, tell the bank/ building society or the broker arranging your mortgage application.  It may be possible to combine the valuation and a full structural survey report which might in turn save time and expense.

Otherwise, you should always consider the benefit of obtaining a RICS Home Survey and choosing the right type of survey is important. For further information please see 

Obviously, a survey can be rather expensive but may prove well worth the cost in the long term, as otherwise any defects in the property will be at your own risk.  If you would like to discuss this with us further, please contact us.

Planning Search

The Local Authority Search which will be applied for will relate to the property you are buying only.  Therefore, in addition to the searches outlined in our Letter of Engagement, you can also instruct us to apply for a Planning Search which should list Planning Decisions close to the property which could potentially affect your intended use and enjoyment of the property including arrangements for the local area. The fee payable for this search is approximately £40 and if you would like us to apply for this additional search please let us know straight away.   

Pre Contract – Investigating Title:

Once you have confirmed you would like to instruct us to act on your behalf in the matter by signing and returning to us one copy of our engagement letter and  our Terms of Business (we confirm an electronic copy is sufficient for this purpose), we will ask you to make a payment on account of costs to enable us to complete identity checks.

If you are using money from any third party towards the purchase, you must inform us of this as soon as possible and prior to exchange of contracts.

Once our initial checks have been satisfied, payment has been received and we have received draft contract papers from the Solicitors acting for your seller, we will check the documents of title which will disclose the legal owner, whether the property is mortgaged and any restrictions and adverse matters affecting the property, including the position regarding any planning and building regulation consents and also the Lease (if the Property is Leasehold) and will raise enquiries if necessary. We will also apply for the following searches to be carried out (unless you have previously asked us to refrain from so doing– although please note if you are obtaining a mortgage we will still need to do so):

  • Local Authority Search. – This search may disclose a number of matters affecting the property, such as planning consents, road proposals involving the acquisition of land near the property, whether there has been an infringement of building regulations or if there is a compulsory purchase order.  It also shows whether any previous owner has had the benefit of a housing/improvement grant and whether the property is a listed building.
  • Drainage and Water Search. – This search will provide information about drainage, public sewers, whether the property is connected to the water mains, classification of the water and confirm the identity of the water and sewerage provider and whether the property is charged by a rateable value or water meter.
  • Environmental Search. – This search will provide information regarding the surrounding environment in which the property you are buying is located and whether this will impact the use, enjoyment or value of the property e.g. whether the property is at risk of surface, ground water flooding, subsidence etc.
  • Planning Search (as detailed above) – if you have specifically requested it. 

Post Contract Enquiries and Report on Title

We will raise enquiries if necessary of the Seller’s Solicitors and once satisfactory replies have been received, will report to you on your proposed purchase, the result of searches and mortgage offer (if applicable) and also provide you with a copy of the Contract and draft Stamp Duty Land Tax return.   We will also let you know the amount you will need to transfer to our account by way of deposit payable on exchange of contracts taking place.  This is usually 10% of the purchase price.  If you are still happy to proceed, an appointment will be made for you to  attend the office to sign the contract, Transfer deed, Stamp Duty Land Tax form and any other documentation (including mortgage deed, if applicable) that is required for the transaction to proceed to exchange of contracts

Any enquiries you may yourself have or investigations or surveys you wish to do must be completed to your satisfaction before exchange of contracts. 

If you are using money from any third party towards the purchase, you must inform us of at the outset of your transaction so that we can advise you of what additional information/documentation is required of you and any additional work we will need to undertake on your behalf.  We will also provide you with a revised estimate of our fees if appropriate.  

Before Contracts are exchanged, you should ensure that all financial arrangements are in order.  Normally 10% of the purchase price should be available for use as a deposit on exchange of Contracts.  NB: It is not possible to use mortgage funds for the deposit required on exchange. If you are purchasing with the aid of a Mortgage, then you should wait until you have received, approved and accepted the Mortgage Offer, before proceeding to exchange.

Exchange of Contracts

If you are living in rented accommodation you should not give notice to your landlord to end your tenancy prior to contracts being exchanged. If in doubt, you should discuss this with us first.

If you are buying a freehold property you must arrange for buildings insurance to be in place once contracts have exchanged and provide us with evidence of this if we ask for it.  If the property is leasehold, insurance is usually arranged by the landlord. We will not exchange contracts on your purchase without your prior authority and without agreeing a completion date with you.  

Completion is the date on which you will be allowed to take possession of the new property and a completion date will need to be agreed with the seller’s Solicitor prior to exchange of Contracts taking place.

Once contracts have been exchanged, your purchase of the property becomes legally binding and neither the seller nor yourself can renegotiate the price or any other terms and you must complete the purchase on the agreed completion date (i.e. moving day).  If you do not do so you will be liable to pay the full 10% deposit (if you not already done so on exchange) together with interest and damages i.e. the money the seller has lost and expenses they have incurred to the Seller for your failure to complete. 

Post Exchange of Contracts

Once contracts have been exchanged, if we have not already done so, we will :

  • prepare the Transfer Deed and send this to the seller’s Solicitors for approval. This is the document which will transfer the ownership of the property from the seller to you and which the seller will need to sign prior to completion.  We will let you know if you need to sign this too and if so, will ask you to do so prior to completion or when we see you to sign the Contract (see above).
  • Request mortgage funding from your Lender (if applicable).  We usually ask for the funds to come in the day before Completion to ensure that they are received  in good time. If completion is due to take place on a Monday then we will request funds for the Friday before.  Please note that interest on your Mortgage will start from the day funds are released to us.

We will forward to you our invoice and a Statement of Account showing the amount required from you (and if applicable, your Lender) to enable us to completion the transaction on the day of completion . Any funds required from you must ideally be received by us at least five clear working days before the Completion date but certainly by no later than the day before the agreed Completion date.


On the day of Completion, we will send the balance required to complete, including the funds received from your Lender (if applicable), to the Seller’s solicitors. Upon receipt of the money the Seller’s solicitors will telephone or email us to confirm completion.  They will then contact the estate agents to confirm that the keys may be released to you and we will then contact you to confirm you may arrange to collect them from the agent.  If there are no estate agents, arrangements will have already been put in place for the handover of keys and we will have relayed any such arrangement to you. 

Please note that keys are usually released around lunchtime on the day of Completion although if there are any related sale/purchases this can sometimes be later in the day 

We would advise you take any meter readings before moving out of your present home and also take meter readings at your new property as soon as possible on the day of completion and notify these to the relevant provider whose details should appear on the Property Information Form provided by the sellers.

Post Completion

We will deal with all post completion work on your behalf which includes obtaining the title deeds and accompanying documents from the seller’s solicitors, any agreed indemnity policies, and making application at HM Land Registry to update the Register to show you as the registered proprietor. At the same time we will apply for any Charge in favour of your lender (if applicable) to be entered against the register and for the seller’s mortgage to be removed from the title register.

We will submit the Stamp Duty Land Transaction Return to HMRC on your behalf and pay the Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf.  

If you are buying a Leasehold Property we will send a Notice of Transfer (and Charge, if applicable) to the Landlord or Managing Agent as may be required under the terms of the Lease. 

Once the change of ownership has been completed at H M Land Registry we will inform you and your Lender (if applicable) of this in writing. We will also send  you any other deeds or original paperwork that has been obtained during the conveyancing process.  Please note that this can take several weeks/months to receive.

We hope you find this guide useful. If you have any further questions, do not hesitate to contact us.

This Guide is intended as a general reference aide only. If you have any questions regarding any stage of the process regarding your individual matter, please speak to us directly.