Moving home? Here’s your guide to the legal process

by Iain Mason

Published on 19th June 2020

With the easing of lockdown restrictions and the reopening of estate agents, a flurry of activity is being seen in the property sector.

Although of course Coronavirus has had an impact, and still needs to be borne in mind, there are many people who have been waiting to move or to start looking for another home, and who are now taking the opportunity to do so.

Unsurprisingly, most estate agents and surveyors believe homes with gardens, balconies or communal spaces will be most in demand. This is good news for Swindon and Wiltshire, where houses with gardens are the predominant type of residence.

Whether you are a seasoned house mover or first time buyer, house-buying is always a major undertaking, which involves a legal, conveyancing process.

At Optimum, we endeavour to make this process as easy and straightforward as we can for our clients, ensuring we keep in touch with them at every stage. Here is our guide to take you through the legal process, step by step.

The first step is to contact a conveyancer as soon as you have found a property you would like to buy and have had an offer accepted on. At this stage, you should be asked to complete one or two forms, which will help to avoid any delays later on.     

We would recommend you have a survey carried out. You may opt for a homebuyer’s survey, which is generally suited to properties in reasonable condition, or you may want to instruct a qualified surveyor to carry out a building survey, which is a more in-depth inspection of a property, providing a detailed evaluation of its condition.

Once your conveyancer has received the title documents and a draft contract from the seller’s solicitors, they should put in place the various searches needed, investigate title and raise any enquiries, as appropriate. You may be surprised at the variety of queries that can arise, but it is vital to get everything right and all questions answered before going ahead.

When all queries have been satisfied, and search results and a copy of a mortgage offer obtained, you will be informed and you will then need to sign the contract. At the contract signing stage, a deposit is required.

Assuming everyone is ready to go ahead, a date will also be agreed for completion and exchange. For the moment at least, we cannot ignore the possible complications arising from C-19, so these need to be considered. Once you have a firm date, you can start organising your move, such as booking a removals firm.

The next stage involves ensuring the money is where it needs to be, for completion. Your conveyancer will request your mortgage funds and if you have been saving under any of the Government schemes – such as Help to Buy or a Lifetime ISA – organise access to these funds too.

Once the sale is complete, the outstanding balance will be transferred to the vendor’s solicitors. Once they confirm they have received the money you may pick up the keys and move into your new home.

Although there are many stages to the process, and issues may arise, at Optimum we have been through this many times for our clients (in some cases, several times over for the same clients!) and we strive to ensure it is as seamless and stress-free as possible.

If you are moving and would like to talk to us about helping with the legal process, we would be delighted to hear from you.

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