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Not many people can buy a property without getting a loan from a bank or building society. So the first thing is to get an agreement in principle from a lender as to how much you can borrow – so you know how much you can offer.

You will want to remember that there are various costs in the buying process including in particular, Land and Building Transaction Tax (LBTT),legal fees and the cost of registering the purchaser’s title to the property in the Land Register, as well as the removal costs. If you contact us at Raeside Chisholm, we can let you have details of the legal fees, LBTT and registration dues.

  1. Putting in a “note of interest” ie; formally telling the Seller’s Solicitors/ Estate Agents that you are interested in making an Offer;
  2. Making a formal Offer in writing to the Seller’s solicitors/ Estate Agents on your behalf;
  3. Sorting out any conditions of the sale contract (usually known as “the Missives”) with the Seller’s solicitors;
  4. Checking the Seller does indeed own what he or she is selling;
  5. Checking there are no potential problems such as Council repairs or alterations by the Seller which did not have Planning Permission;
  6. Drawing up the deed transferring ownership of the property to you;
  7. Preparing a Land and Building Transaction Tax Return;
  8. Drawing up the “Standard Security” to give your Mortgage Lender certain rights over the property and making sure any “Standard Security” granted over the property by the Seller is discharged; and
  9. Getting the money from your Lenders and paying it to the Seller’s solicitors in exchange for the deed transferring the property to you.

If you find a home you are interested in, ask the Seller or their solicitor or Estate Agent for a Home Report. If it’s public knowledge the house is for sale – it should have a Home Report.

This is a document that tells you everything you need to know about the house. It’s split into three parts – a Single Survey and Valuation, a Property Questionnaire and an Energy Report

Did you know: A Seller or selling agent must give you a Home Report within nine days of you asking for it. If they don’t give you the report within nine days, your local Council’s trading standards services can fine them £500.

This section, based on a visual inspection by a Chartered Surveyor, tells you about the home, its condition, its accessibility and any repairs you may need to carry out.

If any of the repairs are marked as urgent or needing future attention, you should consider whether you can cope with the cost or inconvenience of the repair works.

If you feel you can cope with the repairs, you should get estimates for how much they’ll cost before proceeding. If you don’t think that you can cope with the repairs and don’t want to buy the home any more ,you can walk away at this stage without penalty.

The second section of the Home Report is a questionnaire covering 16 different categories. This is designed to give you more information about the home.

These categories include:

  1. The home’s council tax band;
  2. Any issues that may have affected the home in the past, like firm or store damage or asbestos;
  3. Any alterations or extensions that have been made to the home;
  4. Details of any specialist works or guarantees;
  5. Details of any notices that might affect the home.

The final section of the Home Report gives information on the home’s energy efficiency in the form of an Energy Performance Certificate.

This tells you roughly how much it’ll cost you on average to run the home, taking heating and electricity into account.

It also rates the house’s environmental impact in terms of carbon dioxide emissions.

It also gives you contact details for advice on how to make your home more energy efficient and save fuel costs.

There are some exceptional situations when a seller can choose not to give you a Home Report.

They can only refuse to give you a Home Report if:

  1. They don’t believe you are seriously interested in buying their home;
  2. They don’t believe you have enough money;
  3. They would prefer not to tell their home to you (though they cannot discriminate against you for illegal reasons);
  4. Houses that have been on the market since before 1 December 2008;
  5. New houses that are being sold off-plan or to the first occupier;
  6. Newly converted homes that haven’t been used in their converted state yet;
  7. Right to buy homes;
  8. Dual use homes used for both residential and non residential purposes;
  9. Seasonal holiday homes that can only be used at certain times of the year (not second or holiday homes you could use all year if you wanted).

If a home doesn’t need a Home Report, the Seller must still give you an Energy Performance Certificate.

Properties are usually advertised as being either “offers over a certain sum” or for a “fixed price”.

Generally, with properties advertised for “offers over” a certain sum your solicitor will formally “note your interest” with the Seller’s solicitors/ Estate Agents so that you are told when the “closing date” for Offers will be. On that date, you will have to decide how much to offer – without knowing what anyone else may offer. The Seller’s solicitors/ Estate Agents will then normally open all the offers at the same time and usually the highest offer wins.

A property with a “fixed price” means that it will be sold to the first person who puts in an Offer which is accepted by the Seller. In such a case, it is “first come first served”.

Apart from the price, your Offer will in particular cover a “date of entry” ie; the day on which you will get the keys and any “moveable” items (such as curtains and white goods) which are to be included in the price.

The Offer will also usually include an extensive range of standard conditions as are required for the purchase of any property; and any particular conditions as may be appropriate in your particular case.

The Seller does not have to accept any offer – even if the sale has gone to a “closing date”. But it is unusual for that to happen if the sale has gone to a closing.

If your Offer is successful the acceptance will almost always be a “conditional acceptance”. For example, it may accept the price offered but seek to adjust the “date of entry” or exclude certain “moveable” items (eg. curtains or white goods) from the sale.

There will usually be a series of formal letters (known as “the Missives”) passing between the purchaser’s solicitor and the Seller’s solicitor until all contractual matters between the Seller and Purchaser are agreed. At that point, the “bargain is concluded”.

Once the bargain is concluded, each party is bound by the conditions in the Missives, even though they will not actually have signed any paperwork themselves (as the solicitors will have signed the formal letters which make up the Missives on their behalf). It is too late for either to have second thoughts. Until that stage is reached however, either party can still pull out.

Once “Missives are concluded” it is time for the stuff of “conveyancing”.

All the bits and pieces involved in conveying or transferring the property to the Purchaser is generally termed the “Conveyancing”. It includes, for example:-

  1. Checking the Seller actually owns what he is selling;
  2. Checking the plan of the property in the “Title” or “Land Certificate” matches what the Purchaser has offered for;
  3. Checking that the right paperwork is there for any alterations that may have been made to the property;
  4. Checking the “Title conditions” particularly as regards liabilities for repairs and maintenance of stairwells, roofs, boundary walls or fences etc;
  5. Checking access rights and any restrictions as to the use of the property (eg. in relation to using the property for business purposes, keeping pets or parking);
  6. Making sure that any existing Mortgage on the home is paid off when the home transfers to the purchaser.

If the home you want to buy is newly built or converted, the process of buying it is different.

Most newly built homes are offered by the builder at a fixed price, often before the house or conversion has even been built.

This means instead of you having to make an offer, the builder makes an offer to sell to you.

Most builders have a standard form of offer – they lay out a list of conditions that you will need to agree to if you want to buy the home.

You should arrange a loan and take legal advice before you accept the builder’s offer, because once you do it becomes a legally binding contract.

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