Residential Property – what home buyers need to know

22nd October 2015 3:17 pm Comments Off on Residential Property – what home buyers need to know

Buying a home can be the fulfilment of your dreams, but it can also be an anxious and stressful experience too.

If this is the first time you’ve bought a property then the process of “conveyancing”, as it is often referred to, can seem daunting as there is a lot of paperwork involved.  This is where working with a qualified and experienced solicitor really pays.  They can guide you through the formalities and advise you at every stage.

Why enquiries and searches matter

Once your solicitor has received the draft contract papers from the seller’s solicitors, they will raise a number of enquiries with the seller’s solicitors and carry out a number of searches on your behalf.  They will do this to check important details regarding the property and surrounding area before you finally commit to your purchase.

A Local Authority search gives information about planning permissions and building regulation consent for the property, and will confirm whether the Local Authority is responsible for the upkeep of the road and any footpaths outside the house.  If planning permission has been refused in the past, then this could be an issue for you in the future.  If the Local Authority is not responsible for the road, you may incur upkeep costs.   It is also important to check, using a Planning search, for any planned developments or building works nearby in case they could impact on your 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.  It also shows whether there are any public drains or sewers within the boundaries of the property which may have an impact on your ability (and the costs involved) to extend the property in the future.

An Environmental search shows if there is any land contamination and can identify flood risk too.

Be sure you know what you’re buying

Your solicitor should ask you to check the title plan for the property carefully to be sure that it corresponds with what you see on site.  If there is land at the side of the property, don’t automatically assume that it will belong to you.  Your solicitor will make you aware of any covenants on the title.  These are obligations attaching to the property and could include, for example, only using it as a single private residence or contributing to the cost of a shared driveway.

A building survey is important too, as it may show problems like subsidence and structural defects and can affect the price you are willing to pay.  You will also need to know what fittings and contents the seller is leaving behind in the property and 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.

Exchange of contracts and completion

Once contracts have been exchanged, the buyer and the seller are legally bound to complete the transaction on the date agreed.   That date is the completion date and it is when the purchase price is transferred from the buyer’s solicitors to the seller’s solicitors, the keys are released to the buyer and they can move into their new home.

Post completion

On or soon after completion of your property purchase your solicitor will settle stamp duty on your behalf and apply to register your title with the Land Registry.

The author of this article is Louise Lyddiatt who is the Head of our Residential Property department. Louise also deals with commercial property transactions for our clients. If you are looking to buy or sell a residential property in Maidenhead or to take a lease of commercial premises in or around the town, please contact Louise on 01628 631051 or by email to

Categorised in: Latest news, Residential Property

This post was written by Colemans Solicitors LLP

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