The Jargon-Free Guide
Moving house is probably the single most important and expensive transaction that you will make in your life. It can also be one of the most traumatic experiences you will go through.
At least we can help with the procedural matters: this guide explains the whole process. With it, you will be able to understand exactly what is going on and why.
Any time you see a word or phrase in red, just click on it to get a more detailed explanation. And if at any time you find something you don't understand, don't hesitate to contact us by phone (on 01432 265630) or by email email@example.com so that we can answer your query personally.
First things first ...
After you confirm that you would like to instruct us, we will send you a form which is designed to give us all the basic information that we will need during the transaction - names, address, contact numbers, mortgage account number, email, date of birth where the Deeds of your property are, and so on.
Usually people want to sell one house and buy their new one at the same time so they can move from one to the other on the same day. The most convenient date will depend on all sorts of factors such as school terms, holiday availability, and so on. So the first thing that we need to know is when you want to move. We can then find out how this ties in with all the other factors that have to be considered.
If you are selling a house ...
Firstly, you will need an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) which we can order for you if this hasn't already been arranged by the Estate Agents. We will also send you two ready-printed forms, a Property Information Form and a Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form. It helps if you can fill in as much of these as you can and then return them to us as soon as possible. This will provide a package of information which will be sent to your buyer's lawyer with the Draft Contract so that they can be quite clear about exactly what you will be leaving in the house and what you will be taking. We ask for £50.00 on account so that we can request information from HM Land Registry.
If you are buying a house ...
As soon as we receive the details from the seller, we'll pass on to you the Property Information Form and the Fixtures,Fittings and Contents Form. You might be surprised at the number of times there is confusion over this - it's no fun to turn up at your new home to discover that the sellers have taken all the light bulbs. So it's worth checking these carefully.
We will let you know as soon as we have received a Draft Contract and all the supporting information about your new house from the seller's lawyers. At this point we will ask you for £300 on account towards the cost of the Disbursements Fees that we have to pay to others, such as Local Authorities, Land Registries and insurance companies, during the course of the transaction. They will be in respect of Local Authority Searches, Land Registry Fees and other Searches.
If you would like us to, we will also carry out an Environmental Search and a Planning Search. Please advise if these searches are required.
A word about leases
If you are buying or selling a flat, then almost certainly it will be leasehold rather than freehold. The law relating to leaseholds is different and rather more complex than freeholds. However, if things are handled properly, there is nothing to be worried about.
Briefly, a lease gives the lessee (the term 'tenant' might be used) the right to occupy the property for a set period - usually 99 or 125 years, but occasionally 999 years. The lease imposes certain rules called covenants on the tenant; and normally it also requires the lessor (the landlord) to maintain the structure of the building and to insure it.
Often the landlord's obligations will actually be carried out by a management company of which the tenant is a member; the cost is recovered from the tenant as a service charge. If you are buying a leasehold property we shall always obtain full details of these service charges so that you know as much as possible about future costs.
We shall also make sure that the terms of the lease are acceptable to your lender if you are getting a mortgage.
What happens next?
When we have all the information that we (and you) need about the house being sold, and when we have dealt with all the questions raised about the house you are selling, we will write to you confirming all this information and providing a résumé for you to go through. At this point you may prefer to come to our offices to go through the paperwork. However, if you do not live near to our office we will report to you in full and can talk you through the report on the telephone.
By this stage, you will probably have received your Mortgage Offer and the result of your Survey. We can explain any points you are not clear about.
A crucial point!
We are now almost ready to Exchange Contracts. We will make sure that the date that is most convenient to you is also convenient to other people in the chain and that the arrangements over the Deposit are agreed by all parties.
If you are happy to go ahead, we will then exchange contracts with all the other lawyers involved and fix the Completion Date. You are now committed!
After Exchange of Contracts
If you are buying a property we will prepare the Transfer Deed and the Mortgage Deed so that these are signed well ahead of Completion. We will let you have a detailed Completion Statement so that you have as much notice as possible of how much money we will need from you to complete or how much we shall be sending to you after completion.
If you are having a mortgage we shall send our Report on Title to your lender and make arrangements to ensure that Mortgage Advance is sent to us on the Completion Date. We shall also carry out pre-completion Searches.
This is the day we have all been working towards - the day you move house. While you are busy organising your move, we will deal with the financial side of the transaction and make sure that we receive the signed transfer deed to your new house from the seller's lawyer. If necessary, we will make sure that the keys are available for you to collect from the estate agents.
On this day no news is good news and we will not be bothering you unnecessarily. But if you do need to talk to us, we are always available at the end of a telephone.
This is when we deal with the administrative side of the transaction. We will redeem your old mortgage and make sure that any Stamp Duty Land Tax that you have to pay on your new house is passed to the Inland Revenue.
We will also arrange for your title to the new house to be registered at HM Land Registry and pay the Land Registry fees.
When this has been done and we have received the Title Information Document from the Land Registry, we pass it in to your Lender who will keep it during the term of the Mortgage.
Open the champagne ...
... Because that's it. The property has been bought and paid for, ownership has been legally transferred and registered, and we hope you will be very happy in your new home!