Buying your first home is an exciting and significant milestone in your life. It marks the beginning of a new chapter, one where you can truly call a place your own. However, the process of purchasing a property can be complex. In England, the legal process of transferring property ownership is known as conveyancing. In this guide, we’ll take you through the step-by-step process of conveyancing for buying a property in England, providing you with valuable insights to make the journey smoother.
Choosing a Conveyancer
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from the seller to the buyer. To navigate this process smoothly, you’ll need a conveyancer or solicitor. It’s essential to choose a reputable and experienced professional who will protect your interests throughout the transaction. Remember you do not have to use the conveyancer the estate agent recommends.
Your conveyancer will perform various property searches to ensure there are no hidden issues with the property. These searches include:
Local Authority Search: This checks for planning permissions, building regulations, and potential road or development plans that could affect the property.
Environmental Search: This assesses the property’s environmental risks, including contamination and flooding.
Water and Drainage Search: This ensures the property is connected to the mains water supply and sewage system.
Chancel Repair Liability Search: This search checks if the property is subject to an ancient law that requires the owner to contribute to the repair of the local church.
These searches are crucial in identifying any potential problems or restrictions associated with the property.
Review and Exchange Contracts
Once all searches are completed, your conveyancer will review the contract provided by the seller’s solicitor. This contract will include details about the property, the price, and the agreed-upon completion date. Your conveyancer will ensure that all legal aspects are in order and that there are no issues that could cause problems in the future.
You will also receive the TA forms which outline the fixtures and fittings of the property as well other important information like where the stopcock is, for example.
Once both parties are satisfied, you will exchange contracts. At this point, the transaction becomes legally binding, and you are committed to buying the property. You will be required to pay a deposit, typically 5-10% of the property’s purchase price. You will also have to ensure the property is insured by you and it will then become your responsibility.
Arrange a Completion Date
The completion date is the day when the property legally becomes yours. It’s crucial to coordinate this date with all parties involved, including your conveyancer, the seller, and your mortgage lender. On the agreed-upon completion date, your conveyancer will transfer the remaining funds to the seller’s solicitor, and you will receive the keys to your new home.
Pay Stamp Duty
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax that you’ll need to pay when purchasing a property in England. The amount you owe depends on the property’s purchase price. Your conveyancer will calculate and facilitate the payment of SDLT on your behalf. If you are a first-time buyer, you will not have to pay stamp duty on any property priced £425,000 and under.
Register the Property
After completing the purchase, your conveyancer will handle the legal process of registering the property in your name with the Land Registry. This step ensures that you have legal ownership of the property and that your rights are protected. You can request the title deeds once this is done.
Congratulations! You are now the proud owner of your first home. It’s time to move in and start enjoying your new space. Don’t forget to notify utility companies, update your address with relevant institutions, and settle into your new neighbourhood.