Practical guide for first-time buyers stepping on to the property ladder
BUYING your first property is exciting but the process can also be quite daunting with most people finding it overwhelming.
We work closely with our clients to guide them through their purchase and encourage all first-time buyers to speak to a solicitor at the beginning of the journey as it enables people to understand the legal process, the likely fees involved and to build a relationship with your solicitor.
We have broken down some of the steps involved to give those purchasing a house for the first time a better understanding of the process.
Once your offer on the property has been accepted, contact your solicitor who will receive a sales note from the estate agents which provides information on the transaction and will allow your solicitor to correspond with the vendor’s solicitor on your behalf.
Your solicitor will seek from you documentation to verify your identity e.g. photographic identity in the form of a copy of your passport or driving licence and a utility bill, credit card or bank statement as evidence of your address. These are required to satisfy money laundering requirements so it is important to have these documents available.
Your solicitor will then contact the vendor’s solicitor and request several documents from them including the contract, title deeds, searches and property certificates. These documents allow the solicitor to review the transaction and begin investigating the title to the property.
Once all the necessary documents are received by your solicitor, they will carry out a title review. If the solicitor is satisfied that there are no issues with the title, they will then provide you with a written report that sets out various details about the property you are buying.
If you are purchasing the property with a mortgage, your mortgage offer should be sent to your solicitor by your lender. When this is received and your solicitor has provided you with the written report on the title, they will arrange a meeting with you to talk through the documents and take instructions on when you would like to complete. They will typically get you to sign your mortgage deed and the contract to purchase the property at this point.
Your solicitor will then contact the vendor’s solicitor and agree a completion date acceptable to all parties. If this is accepted, your solicitor will send the contract you signed to the vendor’s solicitor for their client to sign. It should be noted that the contract is not binding until it has been signed by both parties and returned to your solicitor.
Once a completion date has been agreed, your solicitor will request your mortgage advance from your lender and ask you to provide any other funds that are needed to complete the purchase.
On completion day, your solicitor will send the purchase monies to the vendor’s solicitor and ask for confirmation that keys can be collected. At this point, your solicitor will contact you to let you know that completion has occurred. You are now be a proud home-owner.
:: Christopher Fox is a solicitor in commercial law firm McKees (www.mckees-law.com / 028 9023 2303) and specialises in residential property.