How long will it all take?
The legal parts of your home exchange are one of the most time consuming aspects. If the property is empty and the buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can be completed within a few days.
However, this is very unusual and it is more likely a mortgage will need to be approved. There will be a chain of transactions to contend with. If this is the case, then it usually takes 4-6 weeks to exchange contracts and then another 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion.
This makes the process a total of 6-10 weeks from start to finish. We understand the pressured timescales involved in home moves and we do all we can to help the exchange progress as quickly as possible.
How soon do I need to pay any money?
If you are buying a property, your solicitor will usually ask you for approximately £125.00 at the beginning. This is to cover the search fees carried out on your behalf. The balance of the price and the solicitor’s cost, as well as any additional charges, will be payable shortly before completion of the deal. If you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price then you may be required to pay before the final exchange of contracts.
If you are selling then you should not need to pay any money in advance. The costs and agent fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you.
Do I need a survey?
If you are looking to get a mortgage, a valuer will inspect the property on behalf of the lender. This will be a report that tells you whether they thinks the property is worth the amount that you have asked to borrow. However, it will probably not be a reliable source if things go wrong.
For an additional fee, you will usually be offered the option to arrange for the same valuer to carry out a more detailed ‘Home Buyers Report’. You can rely upon this at a later date if you discover a problem not mentioned on the report and decide to take it up with the valuer.
We believe a full structural report is necessary if the property is quite old, or if you are concerned with its condition. “Let the buyer beware” is the golden saying when moving home. This means that the buyer will be liable for any problems you discover after the exchange of contracts.
How much deposit is needed?
It is normal for a deposit to be paid on exchange of contracts. If you are buying and selling, your buyers deposit can transfer over to your purchase.
If you are just buying, the amount of the deposit will usually depend upon the size of your mortgage. If it is less than 90%, you will usually need to find 10%. If you are borrowing more than this, we can often persuade the seller to accept whatever amount you are putting in or even just the amount of our costs. This is only applicable if you are borrowing 100%.
If I have any questions, should I ask the agent or the solicitor?
Both should be happy to help you with any questions. The solicitor will probably have more knowledge of the legal processes. However your agent will know how the sale is progressing and will be able to answer any general enquiries.
Can I exchange contracts before I receive my mortgage offer?
It would be extremely dangerous to exchange contracts if for any reason your mortgage offer is declined or delayed. The money may be not be available when required and this is why we strongly advise you not to exchange if this is the case.
When do I need to arrange buildings insurance?
We advise that you arrange buildings insurance from the exchange of contracts, as the property will be at risk from that time. This is unless it is arranged by your lender or it is a leasehold property and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder.
The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building the property if it burns to the ground, which is not necessarily the same as the current market value. If you had a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage, your surveyor or the lender's valuer will usually have suggested a minimum amount of cover in their report.
What happens with the keys?
The keys are usually left with the estate agents and the buyer collects them once the money has been paid over on the day of completion. If this is not convenient then the seller will hand them directly to the buyer. Either way, it is important that arrangements are made in advance to prevent the possibility of the buyer having to wait outside with the removal van!
Although your solicitor will always try to ensure that everything is finalised as early as possible on the day of completion there can sometimes be a delay. This could be that your solicitor is still waiting for the mortgage monies to arrive or there is a particularly long chain. Don't panic or become upset if this happens, as your solicitor will usually resolve the problem by early afternoon - if not sooner!