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Legal Procedures

Whether you are buying your home or moving for the umpteenth time, it makes sense to instruct a firm of solicitors as soon as you have decided to move. This will enable them to take preliminary steps on your behalf (such as obtaining your title deeds from your current mortgage lender), thereby enabling the transaction to proceed immediately once a purchaser and/or property has been found for you to purchase.

The average time between agreeing a sale on your property and having a binding contract (exchange of contracts) is approximately 6 to 8 weeks, although it is possible to achieve an exchange of contracts much quicker if everybody involved is organised and able to act quickly. Remember that a 'chain' is only as quick as the slowest person! The actual transfer of ownership (completion) usually takes place between 2 to 4 weeks (after exchange of contracts) although again this period will vary according to all involved parties.

Once a sale has been agreed the seller's solicitor will prepare a contract for submission and approval by the buyer's solicitor. To enable the solicitor to do this, he will need the title deeds to the property, which are usually held by your mortgage lender.

On receipt of the deeds and any other relevant documents, the seller's solicitor will prepare and send two copies, together with other relevant documents, to the buyer's solicitor for approval. The buyer's solicitor will then submit his searches and enquiries (see below) and on the successful agreement of these and all of the client's necessary finance arrangements have been put in place, the contract will be approved.

One copy of the contract is signed and kept by the buyer and the other is sent back to the seller's solicitor for signature. At this point, a completion date will be agreed with all parties involved. Contracts will exchange when everybody is ready to commit legally and financially to the transaction and it is at this point that the sale becomes legally binding. (Legally binding means the contract is registered in law and if a party then defaults on the agreement, penalties are payable).

Upon receipt of a draft contract from the seller's solicitors, the buyer's solicitors will submit enquiries to the seller's solicitors and also send a search requisition to the local authority, which takes an average of 7 - 14 working days to be completed.

On completion, your mortgage lender will then forward the mortgage monies to your solicitor thereby enabling your solicitor to pay your sellers solicitor for your home. The completion of the transaction is of course also subject to the receipt of any balance of funds from you. If you are selling a property, then your existing mortgage will also be paid off at this stage.

Your solicitor will also deal with formalities such as payment of stamp duty (if applicable) and registration of the transfer of the property in your name at H.M. Land Registry

Stamp duty is payable to the Inland Revenue on the purchase of any property with a purchase price in excess of £125,000.

Purchase Price

Stamp Duty

Up to £125,000

0%

The next £125,000

2%

The next £675,000

5%

The next £575,000

10%

Above £1.5 million                                                    

12%

 

 

You can work out your stamp duty on at HMRC.gov.uk

 

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