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Surveys and Solicitors

Updated: Feb 19, 2023

Surveys and solicitors

A property is likely to be the largest financial commitment you will ever make, so it is critical to understand what you’re buying before you sign on the dotted line. Major structural issues aren’t always easy to spot unless you are a trained professional, so it makes sense having a property surveyed before you commit to purchasing it.

House survey prices can tend to vary depending upon firm used, and the value & type of property, however it is worth completing, not only for peace of mind, but any serious issues found can be either rectified before sale or used as a bargaining tool to save money on your purchase.

What types of house surveys are available?

Condition Report

This is the most basic form of survey that highlights any major risks, as well as any potential legal issues, however it doesn’t include any advice on how to deal with them.

Home Buyer Report

This survey will help to identify any significant structural problems, for example, subsidence or damp, however it is not covered in a lot of detail, so the inspection doesn’t go behind walls or under floorboards.

New build snagging survey

This survey provides an independent inspection of a new build house. The survey may highlight building quality issues that your developer must rectify before you complete your purchase. Although many developers pledge to remedy snagging issues for a period after you move in, this survey enables the majority to be resolved before you commit to moving.

Building or full structural survey

The most detailed and expensive survey, this is an excellent choice if purchasing an older property. Defects will be listed, and advice given on the repairs needed, including the surveyor’s opinion on any potentially hidden defects.

Solicitors – what do they do?

Once your offer has been accepted, a solicitor will take care of the legalities – from drafting contracts, carrying out searches, to overseeing the contract signatures, through to the exchange and completion. Please ensure to seek independent legal advice, as we do not provide this service.

Here’s a little more detail about the stages involved -

1. Contacting the seller’s solicitor

Your solicitor will contact the seller’s solicitor who will give them a draft contract and other items requested, which usually includes fixtures and fittings.

2. Carrying out conveyancing searches

Your solicitor will carry out the conveyancing process too. This includes environmental searches, as well as any other searches and enquiries with the local authority. This can reveal any planning issues affecting the property. Your solicitor/conveyancer will carry out duties such as flooding, mining and contaminated land searches, if necessary.

3. Signing the contract

Your solicitor will report back to you on all of the investigations they’ve made and, if you’re happy to proceed with the purchase, they’ll finalise the terms of the contract and explain these to you.

4. Exchanging contracts

You’ll pay your deposit to your solicitor in order to exchange contracts on the purchase. Exchanging contracts with the seller’s solicitor means you’ve entered a legally binding contract to buy the house.

5. Completion

Completion is the final stage in the conveyancing process when your solicitor…

• Receives funds from the lender

• Repays any existing mortgage or loan that may be a condition of your mortgage offer

• Pays the stamp duty and any other fees due

• Transfers the purchase funds to the seller’s solicitor

• Ensures the keys to the house are made available once completion takes place

Exchanging contracts and completion date

Both buyer and seller must sign identical contracts, which become legally binding once formally exchanged by solicitors. Once the exchange has taken place, this is the right time for buildings insurance to be arranged, which can commence after completion has been reached. If you’re selling a property, be careful to keep your current house insured until the completion date, to be fully protected.

On completion day, your lender will release the funds to your solicitor, who will then transfer the money to your seller’s solicitor. Once this has been completed, you can finally collect the keys to your new home.

Preparing for the move

Once your offer has been accepted and the solicitors are beginning their checks, it’s a great time to start preparing for the move. Planning and organisation are the secrets to a relaxing, stress-free move – create lists, or spreadsheets, or colour-coded labels – whatever your system, but organisation is key.

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