Q. Do I need a survey?
A. We strongly recommend that you have a survey carried out on the property. You are investing a substantial amount of money in the property and should be as confident as possible about its condition. The results of the survey may reveal matters which will require further investigation or even give grounds for renegotiation of the purchase price. The survey must be obtained before exchange of contracts. Once contracts are exchanged, you will no longer have the right to withdraw from the transaction on the grounds of a physical defect in the property.
Broadly speaking, there are three types of survey:-
- Mortgage Valuation.
You are unable to rely on this as it is for the benefit of the lender only. The valuation may not reveal sufficient information about the state of the property to allow you to make a reasoned judgement as to whether or not to proceed with the purchase.
- Home Buyers’ Valuation & Survey Report.
Although still relatively superficial in scope, this is a more in depth investigation carried out on your behalf. This may provide adequate information for you but you should not be misled into thinking that the survey result is an absolute guarantee of the state and condition of the property.
- Structural Survey
This is carried out by an independent surveyor. This will only reveal the true state and condition of the entire property if the surveyor is correctly instructed to investigate all aspects of the property.
Q. Why do I need searches?
A. Again searches are important in identifying any problems there may be with the property you are looking to buy before you commit to buying. The most common searches that can be undertaken are:-
- Local Authority Search
These searches cover such issues as planning (any plans to develop nearby land etc), roads (if a motorway is planned for the bottom of the garden etc), environmental (smoke free zones etc), if planning permission has ever been granted for extensions, compulsory purchase orders, tree preservation orders etc.
- Drainage Search
Establishes that the property is or is not connected to the mains sewers and water main and that the water main is at adequate pressure. It reveals the location of drains and water mains and whether these are maintained privately or at the public expense.
- Environmental Search
Local Authorities have a duty to identify land which is “contaminated” and they must ensure that such land is remediated to ensure that the land is safe for its current use. This essentially means taking steps to prevent, minimize, remedy or reduce the effects of any identified unacceptable pollution risks. Liability for carrying out the remediation falls primarily on those persons who have caused or knowingly permitted the contamination, but, if these persons cannot be identified, then liability falls on the current owner or occupier of the property. Therefore, it is quite possible that the owner of a property on land which ceased to be used many years ago, for a purpose or process which has caused the land to be contaminated, could now be liable for the cost of remediating that contamination. This search will reveal if the property is at risk of being described as “contaminated land”. In addition this search reveals various matters such as the risk of flooding, naturally occurring subsidence and landfill within the locality.
- Chancel Check
Establishes if the property is in a parish or tithe district that leaves the property liable for the repair of the nearby church.
- Coal Authority Search
Some properties require a Coal Authority Search, depending on their location. This will reveal past, present and future workings and will check to see if there is a coal mine entry within the boundaries of the property.
- Common Land and Village Green Search
This search will reveal if the property is affected by common land or village green.
Q. What is meant by exchanging contracts?
A. When contracts are exchanged that is when the contracts become legally binding on both parties and broadly speaking it is no longer possible to change your mind and withdraw.
A deposit is paid by the buyer, usually 10% of the purchase price. A “completion date” is agreed and this is the date when the money and keys will change hands.
Q. What actually happens on completion day?
A. The buyer's solicitors will pay the balance due to the seller's Solicitors. In return, the seller's Solicitors will hand over the legal documentation to transfer the property into the buyer’s name (Transfer Deed).
Once the money has been received by the seller’s Solicitor, the buyer is entitled to receive the keys of the property. Normally, sellers move out during the course of the morning of completion and buyers move in at lunchtime/early afternoon with the keys changing hands some time between, say, 12 noon and 2.30pm. Precise arrangements need to be agreed. Usually the seller leaves the keys with the relevant estate agent for collection by the buyer or the keys can be handed over directly. If there is a chain of transactions, there can be delays on the completion day because of the number of bank transfers that need to take place. Naturally we will do all that we can to minimise any difficulties and to ensure that your move goes as smoothly as possible. It is our aim that your transaction should be a speedy and stress-free experience.