Other Property Professionals
Conveyancing is the name for the legal process of transferring a home’s ownership from one person to another. You can choose either a property conveyancer or a solicitor to represent you in the buying or selling process.
• You should be aware that not every legal firm will be accepted by your mortgage lender. Therefore, it is important to check whether your legal firm is “on their panel” before you instruct them to represent you. We can assist you with this.
When you make an offer to buy a property, and wish to apply for a mortgage, it’s important to know which legal firm you intend to use.
It is the solicitor’s / conveyancers job to simultaneously represent you and the mortgage lender, as you will both have a legal interest in the property.
Your solicitor / conveyancer will initially carry out a series of checks on the property (known as the searches), and will also request copies of the Title Deeds (which proves a record of ownership) and the contract paperwork from the Seller’s legal representatives. They will also ask you to provide Identification documents and evidence of your deposit; and although you may have already provided this when applying for your mortgage, it’s important to understand that everyone in the process must comply with UK’s legal guidelines.
The solicitor / conveyancer will provide you with numerous documents relating to the property including:-
• Plans of the building, showing where the boundary lines are and also information about whether the property you are buying is Freehold or Leasehold.
• What fixtures and fittings will left in the property as part of the sales agreement.
• Details of the current Gas / Electric / Water Utility providers, plus a property information form including any service records or guarantees on items such as gas fittings, windows, electrics etc.
• Information on any planning consents or building regulation approval if the property has ever been extended or altered.
If any of the searches raise concern, or there is a lack of sufficient detail in any of the legal paperwork, the solicitor will always seek more information before they can continue.
Although any additional enquiries could delay your purchase, the conveyancer / solicitor is there to protect you. Only when the conveyancer / solicitor is happy with all the information about the property can you proceed with the purchase.
At this stage you would normally meet your conveyancer / solicitor, to review and check the documentation, and ask any questions. If you are happy with everything, you will be asked to sign the contract to purchase and transfer the deposit money your conveyancer / solicitor.
Finally, when all parties (buyers and sellers) are happy to agree to the sale, and moving in dates, your solicitor / conveyancer will exchange contracts with the owners (vendor’s) solicitor. This process legally commits both parties to the sale, and normally a 10% deposit is paid.
Completion is the second and final stage of the process when the rest of the money is transferred, and the property finally becomes yours. Typically, this is 1-4 weeks after you’ve exchanged contracts.
The surveyor works on behalf of the lender, checking the value of the property; and for an additional fee - they will also tell you more about its general condition.
There are three types of mortgage valuations/surveys you can choose from:
This type of report is for the lenders benefit only, and in most cases, you won’t receive a copy of the valuation report. Whilst a large number of buyers are happy to rely on this basic valuation, we would normally recommend a more detailed survey done before purchasing a property.
Homebuyer's Condition Report
A homebuyers report is usually carried out by an RICS surveyor (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors)' and is most suitable for properties built within the last 150 years - and of standard construction
The report can typically cost around £500-700, (prices vary from lender to lender and is based on the price of the property). Importantly, you will receive a copy of the homebuyer's report which will include a valuation, and a report on the property’s condition. This will highlight areas in need of immediate or future repair such as damp, structural movement, roof repairs etc.
Building surveys / structural surveys
The most thorough of reports is a building survey – often referred to as a structural survey. Naturally as this is more detailed and will take the surveyor much longer to complete, it is much more expensive – typically in excess of £1000.
It is suitable for all property types and is recommended for listed buildings, older properties, buildings of non-standard construction, properties that have been altered or extended
Additional “specialist” reports
Whilst your surveyor can provide a good overview of the property’s value, its structure and condition, occasionally, they may recommend you get further “specialist” reports if they are unable to provide a full and clear explanation of any concerns they have.
The surveyor may not be qualified to provide advice on “mains” services such as water, gas or electrics, which would normally be given by “Gas Safe” registered heating engineers or NICEIC registered electricians.
Structural Engineer reports
A structural engineer is a specialist who you can instruct to look at the overall design, structure and stability of a property. They can confirm whether a property will not collapse, move or fail and that it will remain stable and secure. Examples of when a surveyor may ask an engineer to inspect a property could be after the removal of a chimney breast, or following the removal of internal walls, to check the adequacy of a loft conversion, or the building of retaining walls in a garden.
Arboricultural Survey Expert
An Arboriculturalist is a professional in the study of trees, shrubs and horticulture. They are often called into provide additional guidance when there are large trees close to the property, where root action could affect the foundations of the building, or where certain invasive shrubs – such as Japanese Knotweed - may have been found nearby.
Many properties, (particularly those built before the 1980’s) may have asbestos present in some part of the building. Whilst there is no legal requirement for a property seller to hold asbestos information about their home, if seen, as a surveyor may request an asbestos report before you go ahead with the purchase due to the potential serious health hazards associated with asbestos.
Damp & timber reports
Where a surveyor spots signs of either rising damp or penetrating damp, they may request a report from an accredited damp specialist who can investigate the cause and extent of any damage, and can provide an estimate of costs to eradicate the problem. If left untreated, damp and water damage can quickly spread, affecting the walls and floors in a property.
Other common reports
Your surveyor may request other reports including:
Gas safety checks if the gas fire, boiler, or other heating / cooking facilities appear to be out of date.
Electrical reports If the wiring appears to be outdated and could require upgrading.
Cavity wall tie reports. Steel wall ties are commonly used in construction to bond traditional “Brick and Block” walls together. If these corrode over time, the wall could become unstable affecting the structural stability of the property.
Roof reports. This is a common request when a traditional pitched roof is coming towards the end of its natural life and there are signs of cracked or missing tiles, or when a flat roof is present on a bay window, garage, or extension.