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Whether it's your dream home, an investment property, your first home, or a home away from home, MG Legal’s team of expert property conveyancing solicitors have got you covered.
Our expert conveyancing solicitors deal in all aspects of residential purchases, and are on hand to assist you throughout the property buying process, with clear fixed-fees and friendly, no-nonsense advice.
When you get in touch with MG Legal's conveyancing solicitors, we'll get you moving in no time.
Stages of purchasing a residential property.
After your offer is accepted, the estate agent writes to your conveyancing solicitor with the details of the property and parties involved, known as the memorandum of sale. This can happen quickly, so it is important to have chosen your conveyancing solicitor in advance in order to prevent delays.
Each solicitor then writes to their client with their terms of business, confirming their instructions and fees in the matter. To protect against fraud, clients are also asked to provide ID at this point.
You will also be required to provide proof of funds here. You should also confirm mortgage arrangements, any gifted elements, and help to buy funding that may be involved in the transaction.
The seller’s solicitor then compiles and forwards the Contract pack for review. This includes the draft Contract, the property forms, a copy of any relevant title deeds, the energy performance certificate and any relevant property documents.
The Contract pack encompasses the title plan pertaining to the property, which then allows the conveyancing searches to be applied for. There are four usual searches carried out, inclusive of:
A local search- which raises enquiries with the local authority in respect of planning, building control works, road adoptions, smoke control orders and local land charges, as examples.
An environmental search- which reports on environmental issues, such as whether the property may be built on contaminated land, flood risks, ground stability issues and radon gas levels.
A drainage and water search- which shows where the assets run and confirms whether the property is connected to the mains.
A coal and mining search- reveals whether there have been any past, present or proposed future mining works at the property.
The search results take 7-10 days to arrive and, upon receipt, are reviewed and forwarded to you, together with a report on the same, detailing the various entries noted thereon.
On receipt of the documentation, the Contract pack and search results are reviewed to check for discrepancies and other issues. It is at this point that you need the expertise of a specialist conveyancing solicitor, to ensure that any issues are properly dealt with, and to prevent any delays.
Enquiries are then raised by your conveyancing solicitor, in the form of queries requiring the seller to provide clarity or further information in certain respects. The enquiries can range from spelling amendments to the Contract, to the provision of Planning Permission evidence, as examples.
The seller’s solicitor then has the opportunity to review the enquiries, and take the seller’s instructions on the same in order to respond accordingly.
The responses are usually satisfactory, however, in some instances, it may be necessary to raise further enquiries to ensure clarity is provided. In which case, this step would simply be repeated until the responses were acceptable, and your conveyancing solicitor achieved the results that you want.
Once happy with the responses received, our final report is prepared, explaining the deeds and all relevant paperwork pertaining to the property. At this point, the Contract, Mortgage Deed and Transfer Deed are signed, in anticipation of Exchange of Contracts.
Dates for Exchange and Completion can then be agreed. In some cases, these things may take place on the same day, which is known as a simultaneous Exchange of Contracts and Completion.
Funds to facilitate Exchange and Completion are then requested, together with updated proof of funds evidence, confirming the origin of the same. At this point, any mortgage funds would also be requested from your mortgage lender. Arrangements should also be made, at this stage, to request any Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA bonuses.
The solicitors then formally Exchange Contracts. At this point, the solicitors read through the Contract, confirming the details match up. Once finalised, this is a legally binding Contract, and if Completion does not take place on the agreed date, penalties on the party at fault can be imposed.
On the day of Completion, the purchase monies to the credit of the seller’s solicitors’ client account. Once the money arrives, Completion is deemed to have taken place, and the estate agents may then release the keys to the property and it is all yours!
The seller’s solicitor then forwards the title deeds and documents in order that arrangements can be made for the property to be registered in your name, as the new owner of the property.
Upon receipt of the completed registration documents from HM Land Registry, the title deeds and documents are forwarded to you, for your records, thus concluding the transaction.
Your designated conveyancing solicitor at MG Legal will take the time to ensure that you are completely happy with your property purchase, and with how the process has gone. For any more information on our team, and how the process of buying your property will go, contact us online here and speak to a conveyancing solicitor today.
Conveyancing Purchase FAQs
When purchasing a property, conveyancing searches are an extremely important part of the conveyancing process that, our property solicitors, would always recommend carrying out. If you are buying with the assistance of a mortgage, your Lender will require that searches are carried out in order that any potential issues with the property are revealed and can be reported to them.
The searches are, in effect, a standard set of enquiries which are raised with various authorities to provide further insight into the property, and, in particular, any risks that may come with it. The various authorities then compile the information they hold about the property and provide responses to the questions raised. This then gives, both, you and your property solicitors Preston much more information that can be used to ensure the integrity of the property being purchased.
Searches can uncover all kinds of information that may otherwise be hidden. Searches help provide information on the property which may not be disclosed by the Seller of the Property.
At MG Legal, your local property solicitors, we undertake a set bundle of searches on your behalf. These include the following:
Local Authority Search – The results of this search will reveal any planning entries, land charges on the property, road adoption status, details of any nearby proposed development or road/traffic schemes, etc. This search provides a large volume of detail on a range of different aspects of the property and the surrounding area.
If a property is in an area affected by a Smoke Control Order, your property solicitors Preston will advise that only smokeless fuels should be used. Smoke control orders are in place in attempt to reduce air pollution and mean that smoke cannot be emitted from a chimney unless authorised fuel is being burnt for the use of exempt appliances, such as burners or stoves. The Smoke Control Order is registered as a Local Land Charge on the property and must be adhered to - non-compliance can result in you being fined.
Environmental Search – The environmental search results look particularly to environmental issues and will reveal whether the property is at risk of flooding, contaminated land, natural ground subsidence, radon gas etc. This, too, is a large report with a lot of information, inclusive of detailed diagrams to provide further information on the points noted.
The Environmental Search estimates that one in six homes in England are at risk of flooding. Flooding does not just occur near rivers or coasts. Surface water flooding can occur when heavy rainfall overwhelms the drains or sewers or when sewers become blocked.
Water and Drainage Search – This search looks to where the property is connected to in terms of water and sewerage, who any charges are payable to, and, importantly, whether there are any mains located within the property boundaries and whether the same may cause any issues.
Coal and Mining Search – The coal and mining search provides detail on any historical, present and future risks posed to the property by mining at the property and surrounding area.
Chancel Repair Searches - For historical reasons some properties carry with them a requirement to pay the cost of repairing the chancel of the parish church. The costs of this repair bill can be considerable (in one case it was the repair costs were £230,000.00) and the liability may not be apparent from the title deeds alone.
Pre-contract Enquiries of the Seller - This is where we attempt to find information out from the Seller which the Seller is not bound by law to disclose. The Seller can refuse to answer these queries however a misleading enquiry could lead to the Buyer bringing an action in misrepresentation.
At MG Legal, we understand that the term ‘First Registration’ may mean nothing to you. However, if you are purchasing a property that is currently unregistered at the Land Registry, your solicitors in Lancaster will be required to carry out this process on your behalf.
Upon Completion of your purchase, your solicitors Lancaster are required to formalise matters by submitting an application to register the change of ownership of the property. Your solicitors Lancaster will, firstly, receive the following documents from the seller’s solicitor:
Signed Part Contract, on behalf of the seller,
Signed Part Transfer Deed, on behalf of the seller,
Any Title Deeds and documents which relate to the property.
In previous years, it was not compulsory for land, and any changes to the Title, to be registered at the Land Registry which does mean that there are still a large number of properties that are still unregistered which triggers the need for First Registrations.
With unregistered Title, it is the Deeds that are of importance to your solicitors Lancaster at this stage. The Deeds are a collection of documents which provide evidence of the various changes of ownership, Charges and Title history of the property which lead to the present position. These documents provide what is called ‘Root of Title’ and detail the various rights and restrictions the property is subject to. Your Lancaster solicitor will organise these documents, by date, and record them on a Documents List Form – ‘DL’.
Your solicitors in Lancaster are then required to submit an Application for First Registration, in form FR1, on your behalf in order to register the title to the property with the Land Registry, but also to register this Title in the names of the new legal owners of the property. The Application will include the appropriate Land Registry Form FR1, the Documents List and the Deeds themselves.
The Land Registry then review the documents and will register the property on their records, as well as registering the property in the names of the new property owners.
There is a fee for the process which will vary dependent on the value of the property and this process can also take up to 16 weeks to complete. Matters can, however, be expedited sooner if there are exceptional circumstances, for example, if there is a further sale dependent on the land being registered. In such cases, the Land registry can formalise the registration much sooner.
If you are aware that your property is unregistered, however, are not selling, you can also instruct your nearest solicitors to carry out a Voluntary Registration on your behalf, which works in the same way.
For more information on the registration process, or any other conveyancing query, contact our team of solicitors in Lancaster for more information today on 01995 602 129.
Whilst, as part of the transfer of equity process, searches are not imperative, it may be advisable to have searches carried out. This is in order that you are aware of the various matters that are affecting the property you are acquiring.
Where, for example, there is a lender involved with the property, and the property is being transferred from the joint names of the owners to the sole name of the other, you must check the requirements of the lender in this regard. Whilst the lender may not require that updated searches are carried out, they may require that search insurance be incepted. Your conveyancing solicitor will, of course, be able to advise you of this, upon sight of the individual lender’s requirements.
We would always recommend having conveyancing searches carried out, in order to aid your purchase. This is because, the searches provide a large amount of important information about the property and are an opportunity for matters requiring further attention, or those that pose a risk, to be identified prior to Completion and, where possible, to be rectified.
For cash buyers, searches are not imperative, however, where the property is being purchased with assistance of a mortgage, this will be a specific requirement of the lender.
Your conveyancing solicitor is required to act in your best interests, as the purchaser, however, also has a legal duty to the mortgage lender. The search results can, in some cases, reveal substantive risk, and your solicitor is required to disclose such risks to your lender, with your consent, in order that they are aware.
The main concern of the mortgage lender is that their security over the property is going to be protected, therefore, if there is anything in existence that may pose a risk to this, they need to know about it. Mortgage lenders will, therefore, insist that conveyancing searches are carried out.
Be it a Mortgage Deed or a Transfer Deed that your conveyancing solicitor has asked you to sign, there are certain factors to keep in mind when signing. A Deed is a legally binding document, therefore, you should not be signing anything that you do not understand, or do not agree with. You should always take the advice of your solicitor before signing.
Once satisfied as to what you are signing, legal Deeds are to be signed by yourself, where so indicted. Any Deed may also require you to sign in the presence of a witness, who should mark their name and address, where required. This witness should be an independent witness, over the age of 18, i.e. not a relative or anybody with an interest in the matter, nor should they be residing at the same address as you.
Differing to your conveyancing searches, which are of extreme importance to your conveyance (see our blog in which our Preston solicitors explain why), pre-completion searches bring about a number of considerations for your conveyancing solicitor.
When a date for Completion has been agreed, we understand that the considerations in our eager buyers’ minds will, no doubt, relate to what colour kitchen they may have, and where they might hang that picture, however, for our Preston solicitors, it is a different story.
At this stage of the transaction, your conveyancing solicitor will ensure that you have signed the necessary documents, are happy to proceed, and will be requesting funds to facilitate the purchase. Amidst all of this, there is the importance of the pre-completion searches.
Pre-completion searches are searches that your solicitors in Preston undertake prior to completion of your matter. There are two main searches that are carried out, inclusive of:
The bankruptcy search, also known as the K17 search, requires your Preston solicitor to input the full name(s) of the buyer(s) into the Land Registry Portal, at the cost of £2.00 per search, per name. Once submitted, the Land Registry can, immediately, issue a certificate which either, confirms there are no subsisting entries against an individual, or where entries are revealed, will list the same.
See the Land Registry’s Practice Guide which specifically discusses the occasions in which entries may be revealed and their meaning, here.
In the event that there are entries revealed, your solicitors in Preston would, firstly, need to establish what the entries relate to, and that they do, indeed, actually relate to the individual being searched against. With more common names, it is not unusual for entries to be revealed that do not relate to the individual being searched against. In which case, your conveyancing solicitor would require specific confirmation of this.
Where there are entries revealed, and the buyer is purchasing with the assistance of a mortgage, the lender would need to be alerted that a K18 Certificate has been issued, as opposed to a K17 (issued where there are no relevant entries). This is because your Preston solicitors not only have a duty to you, but to the mortgage lender, as well. The concern of the mortgage lender is that their security over the property is going to be adequately protected, at all times. If there have been bankruptcy entries revealed, there is a potential risk that the individual purchasing may not be able to keep up with monthly repayments, but also the potential for a trustee in bankruptcy/official receiver to make a claim over the property in order to satisfy any debts. Your conveyancer does, therefore, have a duty to report the same to the lender for their consideration.
Where matters of importance are not reported, the lender can reserve the right to withdraw the offer. See our Preston solicitors’ blog in which we discuss circumstances where the mortgage offer may be withdrawn.
As a general rule, the search lasts for a period of three weeks and must be valid at the date of Completion to ensure that no adverse entries have arisen prior to the same.
As you can see, this search can have a significant impact on your conveyance. Now, what other searches should your conveyancing solicitor be considering?
Official Search with Priority
The Official Search with Priority can take two forms, the Official Search of Whole with Priority, also known as the OS1, and the Official Search of Part with Priority, also known as the OS2. At £3.00 per search, here is why they are so important;
The aim of the search is to ensure that the applicant, in other words the buyer, has priority over the land they intend to purchase. The search restricts any other person registering an interest over the land, during the priority period of the search. It is, therefore, important that your conveyancing solicitor ensures the priority is in date and effective for as long as needs be. The certificate lasts for a period of six weeks and, in the event that the priority period ends, before the registration formalities have been concluded, there is a risk that another individual could register an interest over the property.
In addition, the search will confirm to your Preston solicitors whether there have been any alterations made to the Official Copy of Register of Title, since the copies in their possession were produced. The search will specifically confirm that, from the date of the previous official copy entries, there have been no adverse entries, however, in the event that there have been amendments to the Register, a further copy of the same will be supplied with the changes noted. This allows your conveyancing solicitor the opportunity, before completion, to ensure that your interest in the property is going to be adequately protected.
In instances where the buyer is purchasing with the assistance of a mortgage, it is to be the lender’s interest that is noted on the search, as opposed to the buyer. Their first charge over the same is to take priority over the property and, as such, they are noted accordingly thereon.
What about the OS2?
As with the OS1, the OS2 works to determine whether any amendments to the Register have been made, and to provide the buyer and, where necessary, their lender, priority over the property. The difference with this search, however, is that the same is not readily available, and can take up to five working days to retrieve.
This search applies to searches where part priority of the title is required, and only part of a particular title is being searched against. This is most commonly used, by our Preston solicitors, in the case of new build purchases. This is because the developer usually owns a large plot of land, upon which the individual properties are built upon and, when sold are registered in their own right with a unique title number. As such, the OS2 search does not need to take priority over the plot of land as a whole, but over the parcel being purchased by the buyer(s).
The principles and importance of the searches does, however, remain the same, as you can see.
If, therefore, you are purchasing a property and have a query in connection with pre-completion searches, or any other conveyancing enquiry, get in touch today, at email@example.com, and our team of experts will be on hand to assist you.
In unregistered land, the requirement for these searches can differ.
When we are acting for a client in any matter, whether this is a property sale or purchase, preparation of a Will and Lasting Powers of Attorney, or the administration of an estate, we are required to check our client’s identity. This is because we must ensure that we are acting for the correct person and we must have proof that if they pay us money, they are the person entitled to pay us.
We require proof of our client’s identity by way of photographic ID (such as a Passport, Driving Licence, HM Forces Identity Card or a firearm/shotgun certificate) and a proof of our client’s address (such as an original bank statement, utility bill, mortgage statement, TV Licence, NHS card or home insurance certificate). The proof of address must be dated within 3 months (unless the statement or certificate is annual or issued only once).
The easiest option for most of MG Legal’s clients is to arrange an appointment at your local office (Lancaster, Garstang or Longridge or Lytham) to bring your original ID. A member of staff will take copies, verify the originals, and hand the originals back to you. Alternatively, you could visit your local post office who can certify ID. The Post Office charges a fee for this service, starting from £12.75. You can find out more about this, here.
To ensure your property purchase goes as smoothly as possible, you should ensure that your conveyancing solicitor is aware that your purchase will be aided via a Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA at the earliest opportunity. This is because there are certain procedures that are to be followed, dependent on the type of ISA being used.
When utilising a Help to Buy ISA, your conveyancing solicitor will require that you complete a first-time buyer declaration form, confirming that you are, indeed, a first-time buyer. You can download a copy of the HM Treasury's First Time Buyer Declaration form, here. In addition, when the time comes, your conveyancer will also require an official closing statement from the bank, confirming the account has been closed. Both are required in order to redeem the ISA bonus on your behalf.
Where purchasing with a lifetime ISA, there is a set period of time in which funds are to be requested. Usually, this is a circa thirty-day requirement in order to give sufficient notice for the drawing down of funds and redemption of the ISA bonus.
As you can see, both entail slightly different procedures, however, do involve certain time constraints. It is, therefore, imperative to advise your property conveyancing solicitor of such matters, upon commencement of the transaction.