How it all works - buying and selling.
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How it all works
Property help
30 Nov 2023

How it all works - buying and selling.

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Posted by Lindsay Hull

Every property purchase journey is unique, as numerous factors come into play that can influence the time it takes to officially own your new home and settle in.

Things are much smoother if you're not part of a property chain. If your purchase is straightforward – meaning you're not selling another property simultaneously, and your seller isn't relying on another purchase to make their move – you can feel reasonably confident that you'll complete the process within the 15-week national average after your offer gets accepted.

However, things get a bit trickier when you're part of a property chain. A delay in any link of the chain has a domino effect, potentially causing hold-ups for everyone involved. This risk increases with more sales being connected in the chain. In such cases, it's not unusual for the entire buying process to stretch from the time you make an offer to a six-month period until completion.

Here's an overview of the basic stages of a property transaction:

  1. Property Search and Valuation:
    • Buyers start by looking for suitable properties based on their preferences, budget, and location.
    • Sellers may get a property valuation to determine the market value of their property.
  2. Offer and Acceptance:
    • Once a suitable property is found, the buyer makes an offer to the seller through the estate agent.
    • The seller can accept, reject, or negotiate the offer. If both parties agree on the terms, they move forward.
  3. Instructing Solicitors/Conveyancers:
    • Both the buyer and seller will appoint a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of the transaction.
    • The solicitor for the buyer will also conduct property searches to uncover any legal issues or potential concerns.
  4. Sales Memorandum and Preliminary Checks:
    • A "sales memorandum" is prepared by the estate agent and sent to both parties and their solicitors, outlining the terms of the sale.
    • The buyer's solicitor reviews the property's title deeds, local authority searches, and other relevant documents.
  5. Mortgage Application and Survey:
    • If the buyer requires a mortgage, they'll apply to a lender. The lender assesses their financial situation and the property's value.
    • A surveyor conducts a property survey to identify any structural or maintenance issues.
  6. Conveyancing:
    • The solicitors handle the legal paperwork and contracts, including transferring ownership and handling the deposit.
    • The buyer's solicitor raises any legal queries or concerns, and the seller's solicitor responds.
  7. Exchange of Contracts:
    • Once both parties are satisfied with the terms and all legal matters, contracts are exchanged, and a completion date is set.
    • At this point, the buyer usually pays a deposit (usually around 5-10% of the property's price) to the seller's solicitor.
  8. Completion:
    • On the agreed completion date, the remaining funds are transferred from the buyer's solicitor to the seller's solicitor.
    • The ownership of the property officially transfers to the buyer, and they can collect the keys.
  9. Post-Completion:
    • The buyer's solicitor pays the Stamp Duty Land Tax (if applicable) to HM Revenue & Customs.
    • The change of ownership is registered with the Land Registry, and the buyer becomes the official owner.
  10. Moving In and Finalising Details:
    • The buyer can move into the property.
    • The seller should notify utility companies and update their address details.

It's important to note that the process can vary based on the specifics of the transaction and any unforeseen issues that may arise. Having a reliable Agent, Solicitor or Conveyancer can greatly help navigate through the legal aspects of the process.

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