How long will it take to move?
This is a question we often get asked, especially by first-time buyers keen to move into their property and set up home. There is no hard and fast rule you can apply here, so no easy answer unfortunately. That’s because there are several key steps that you’ll need to go through before you get to the point where you exchange contracts, at which time your solicitor will be able to confirm the date when your purchase will complete.
Getting a mortgage agreed
If you need to get a mortgage in place to move, then you will need to allow time for the formalities to be completed. This is often a two-stage process where a lender will check out your finances, and if all goes well, give their agreement in principle. This will be followed by an in-depth application process which hopefully will result in a formal mortgage offer.
Having a valuation and survey done
If you’re getting a mortgage, your lender will require a mortgage valuation to be carried out on the property you are buying. This is used to assess whether it is sufficient security for the loan. Whilst it will give you a rough idea as to whether the asking price is fair, it won’t tell you about the state of the property or show up any underlying faults.
To get a full assessment, you need to engage a qualified surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). Surveys can throw up defects that could be costly to put right, especially in older properties.
A survey provides reassurance and can also help you decide whether to continue with the purchase. If the surveyor reports problems that need to be remedied, you could still decide to proceed, using the survey findings to renegotiate the purchase price.
The legal process
We will carry out searches on your behalf to check important practical details before you finally commit to your purchase. For instance, if you’re buying a leasehold property you’ll need to know how much time is left on the lease and the terms for negotiating an extension.
Local Authority searches give information about any planning permissions and building regulation consents attaching to the property. A Water and Drainage search confirms if the property is connected to the mains water supply and the public drainage system and, if not, what the arrangements are. An Environmental search shows up if there is any land contamination, and can identify flood risk too.
You’ll need to check the title plan for the property carefully and be sure that it corresponds to what you see on site. We will make you aware of any charges that have been registered on the property at the Land Registry, and any covenants on the title. Covenants are obligations attaching to the property and can include only using it as a single private residence or contributing to the cost of a shared driveway.
We will also check what fixtures and fittings that the seller is leaving behind in the property. We’ll also get a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate which gives an energy efficiency rating indicating how costly the property will be to heat and light.
Armed with all this information, if you’re happy to proceed, at this stage we’ll be able to confirm all the details that will go into the contract that you will sign. You will need to have your deposit ready as this is paid over on exchange of contracts.
If your purchase forms a part of a chain, then getting all the connected parties ready to exchange contracts and agree moving dates can sometimes be a bit tricky. As your solicitors, we’ll keep in touch with the solicitors acting for the other parties and keep you informed of progress.
As a rough guide, if there’s no chain and no unforeseen problems, you could be moving 8-10 weeks from when formal contracts are issued/received.
Exchange of Contracts
Once contracts have been drawn up and exchanged between you and the seller, you are legally committed to the purchase. A date is then set for completion, at which point the balance of the purchase price is paid, stamp duty is settled, and the property is finally yours. Your solicitor will then register your title with the Land Registry.