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Choosing solicitors and surveys

Having a survey carried out on a property can be invaluable, as it can highlight issues that would otherwise remain hidden, or that are visible but perhaps not to the untrained eye.

What surveys are available?

  • Mortgage valuation - This often comes as a free service that most lenders will offer. However, it is purely a valuation of the property for the purposes of the mortgage lender. This is not a survey.
  • Homebuyers survey - If your property appears to be in a reasonably good condition then this survey might be a good one to go for. This will include a property valuation and will check for any major faults and repairs needed to the property, giving an average repair cost too.
  • Full structural survey - It’s common for older or listed properties with extensions to have a full structural survey, as it checks for major and minor faults, along with estimated repair costs. This gives you the ability to challenge anything with the seller from a legal perspective.
  • Condition reports - These are common for fairly new build properties and are a good way to find out what condition the property is in. It doesn’t include any advice or recommendations for repair or maintenance work .

The more in-depth the survey, the more it will cost. The total amount can vary between each lender or local surveying firm.

Solicitors and conveyancing

Once your offer has been accepted, you’ll need to fi nd yourself a solicitor/conveyancer to take care of the legalities involved with buying a  property.

What work will the solicitor do?

Contact the seller’s solicitor - They’ll contact the seller’s solicitor who will give them a draft contract and other items requested, which usually includes fixtures and fittings.

Searches - More often than not, your solicitor will carry out the conveyancing process too. This includes environmental searches, as well as any other searches and enquiries with the local authority. This can help to reveal any planning issues affecting the property.

Sign the contract - Your solicitor will report back to you on all the investigations they’ve made and, if you’re happy to proceed with the purchase, they’ll finalise the terms of the contract and explain these to you.

Exchange contracts - You’ll pay your deposit to your solicitor in order to exchange contracts on the purchase. Exchanging contracts with the seller’s solicitor means you’ve entered a legally binding contract to buy the property.

Completion - This is the final stage in the conveyancing process when your solicitor:
• Receives funds from the lender
• Repays any existing mortgage or loan that may be a condition of your mortgage offer
• Pays the stamp duty and any other fees due
• Transfers the purchase funds to the seller’s solicitor
• Ensures the keys to the property are made available once completion takes place