What you should know when buying a home

We are always happy to talk through your queries, but we hope this guide will be helpful in answering some of your questions and gives you an idea of what to expect over the coming weeks.

Moving home is an exciting time and we want you to enjoy the process: we will do our utmost to ensure that everything proceeds as swiftly and smoothly as possible and will keep you informed at every stage.

What happens now?

You can expect to receive a client care letter from us which confirms the fee we have agreed and sets out our terms of business. This is a requirement of our regulatory authority, the Solicitors’ Regulation Authority, and is done to protect you.

We will also need you to provide ID evidence to enable us to comply with our obligations under
the Money Laundering Regulations. Enclosed with our letter will be a “Purchase Instruction Form” for you to complete with brief details of the property you are buying and the parties involved.

As soon as we receive the signed paperwork from you (and the monies needed on account to commission searches) we can get to work.

What are the likely timescales for dealing with my transaction?

Whilst each transaction is different we would expect matters to progress along similar lines to the following “average” transaction:

Week 1
Hedges receive the signed paperwork from you and contact the seller’s solicitors for a title pack and contract.

Week 2
A title pack and contract is received from the seller’s solicitors. We will review the information supplied and pass any relevant extracts on to you. We will also submit our searches and raise appropriate enquiries with the seller’s solicitors.

Weeks 3 to 4
As and when our search results are received we will raise any additional queries that arise with the seller’s solicitors. We will also send them a draft transfer document for approval.

Week 5
By this stage we would expect the vast majority of our title investigations to have been completed. If you are taking out a mortgage we would also hope to have received the offer by now. We will send you a report on the property you are buying and arrange for you to sign the contract and, if you are taking out a mortgage, the mortgage deed.

We will also ask you to transfer funds for the deposit needed on exchange of contracts (which is usually 10% of the purchase price).

Week 6
Exchange of contracts: this generally takes place by telephone and you do not need to be present. The deposit will be held by solicitors pending completion. You will need to arrange buildings insurance cover for the property you are buying from this date.

Period between exchange and completion
This is the point at which you can get packing and leave us to deal with the pre-completion formalities. We will ask you sign a transfer document and will also send you a completion statement detailing the funds we will need from
you to complete.

Completion Day
The long awaited day is finally here! We will send the purchase monies to the seller’s solicitors who will telephone us on receipt to formally complete. The estate agents will then be told that they can release the keys. This normally happens around lunchtime dependent upon the number of parties in the chain. When you arrive at the property don’t forget to take meter readings to supply to the relevant utility companies.

After completion
We will deal with completion of the SDLT form for HMRC and payment of SDLT on your behalf. We will also arrange to register your ownership of the property (plus any mortgage) at the land registry. Once the title has been registered we will provide your lender with any title documents it requires and we will also send you a letter with title documentation for safekeeping.

Your file will be stored by Hedges for 12 years and will usually then be destroyed.

What are the most likely causes of delay and what can I do about them?

The most frequently encountered causes of delay in the buying process are:

Leasehold property:
Leasehold transactions can take slightly longer than freehold ones as information is often required from the managing agents who do not supply it as quickly as we might like. The seller can assist by ensuring that he (or she) lets his (or her) solicitors have the managing agents’ details and copies of any service charge demands as early as possible in the transaction and makes sure that the solicitors keep chasing to obtain the information needed.

Search results:
There can sometimes be a delay by the local authority in supplying results to local authority searches.

There is a limit to what can be done about this but we submit our searches at the very earliest opportunity and we also work with a number of different search providers so that we can ensure we use the one who is able to supply the results most quickly in any particular transaction.

Mortgage offers:
Sometimes we get to the stage where we are ready to exchange but for the fact that a mortgage offer is still awaited. You can help by progressing your mortgage application as quickly as possible and maintaining contact with your mortgage brokers to ensure that there are no delays. If you are happy to supply us with details of your mortgage brokers we can also liaise with them directly.

Long chains:
It is an unfortunate reality that the more people there are in a chain the slower the buying process can be. There are simply more people who all need to have mortgage offers and get everything in place before everyone can proceed to exchange. A good estate agent will help enormously in this scenario by keeping track of everyone in the chain and facilitating progress as much as possible.

Is there anything else I should do?

Quite simply, try to relax and let Hedges deal with any potential issues for you. Whilst there are occasions when a purchase will take longer than envisaged despite everyone’s best efforts it is extremely rare that a transaction doesn’t eventually reach a successful conclusion.

We will do everything we can to complete your purchase as quickly as possible and you can rest assured that we proactively progress all elements of the transaction that are within our control. If there are elements of the process that you don’t understand please call us rather than worrying about them; we’ve been helping people move house for more than 200 years and there aren’t many problems we haven’t already experienced and successfully resolved!