We feel it is important that you understand our role and our responsibilities in the process ahead. We have set out the tasks we will undertake as your solicitor, together with the tasks we will not perform. Please contact us if you have any queries about any of the information in this leaflet.
The main steps are:-
We receive contract and title deeds from the Vendor’s Solicitors. We will satisfy ourselves that there is good and marketable title to the property and advise you of any issues, whilst raising these issues with the Vendor. We will explain the title deeds to you setting out any obligations which might be imposed on you together with any rights or burdens affecting the property. This is especially relevant in new build developments or leasehold properties as the deeds will set out covenants, obligations and restrictions upon you. You can read about the additional responsibilities imposed upon you in developments here and apartments here We will set these out to you as clearly as possible and discuss any concerns you might have. We appreciate that sometimes the terminology or wording in title deeds can be difficult to decipher – please ask if you need any issue explained.
Once we’ve sent you a copy of the title deeds we will raise any specific queries you may have in relation to the house with the Vendor.
We will obtain property certificates and searches from the Vendor’s Solicitors. These will include information from various statutory bodies (local council, water service, roads service, EJO and planning) relating to the property. We will ensure that all matters involving Planning or Building Control are in order and that any disclosed alterations or additions to the premises have been approved by the Planning and that the building works have been certified by local Building Control;
We’ll as the Vendor to furnish us with replies to Pre-Contract Enquiries, a list of set questions relating to the property and the legal title;
We will receive instructions from your Lender regarding your mortgage advance. Your purchase cannot complete until we have received your mortgage instructions and reported to the bank. It is therefore important that you arrange your mortgage as soon as possible.
In Northern Ireland lenders instruct solicitors to act on their behalf in registering their security over the borrower’s property which means that we are required to protect the bank’s interests as well as yours during the course of the transaction.
We have to liaise with your Lender to confirm to them that the Lender will be able to sell your home without issue should you default on your loan. We have a duty to report any problems or issues relating to the legal title of the property to the Lender. It is important to understand that your Lender will need to be satisfied that we have resolved any issues to their satisfaction before they will release the funds. In some transactions the Lender may take issue with something is not of importance or interest to you and this may delay completion until the Lender is satisfied.
We appreciate that this may be frustrating but we would ask you to remember that your Lender sets the conditions in relation to the release of the funds and that we will be doing all that we can to resolve any issue which they might raise.
In some circumstances we may ask that the Vendor provides an insurance policy to offset a problem in the title to reassure the Lender and progress matters to completion. We will advise you should a policy be required and will obtain a quotation for such a policy on your behalf.
Please note that all Lenders require at least 5 working days notice from us to release your mortgage advance. Please remember this when planning your completion date and booking your removal service;
We will deal with any issues which might be identified in your survey. Whilst your Lender will provide a valuation report it will be up to you to decide if you want to have a Homebuyer’s Survey completed (we’ve set out further information in the ‘Physical Condition’ section below);
Once we are satisfied that everything is in order we will:
- Have you attend at our office to explain the Contract and, if in order, have you sign the contract and will send your Offer to the Vendor;
- Have you attend at our office to explain the terms of your Mortgage Offer and, if in order, have you sign your mortgage deed;
- Issue a written report to your Lender confirming that all is in order and requesting your funds for completion;
- Prepare the legal deed which will transfer legal ownership from the Vendor to you at completion;
- Ask you to provide us with the balance purchase money together with our agreed fees, registration fees and stamp duty.
- The Vendor will sign and return the contract, accepting your offer and agreeing to the suggested completion date;
- On the day of completion we will send a completion letter and your purchase funds to the Vendor and will liaise with them and the agent to have the keys to your new home released to you.
- We will then complete and lodge your SDLT (Stamp Duty) return with HMRC and forward your payment to them;
- Finally, we will register the transfer of ownership of the Property into your name, together with your Lender’s charge over the property
You may have noticed that there is a lot of information to be provided by the Vendors with the majority of this coming from third parties. Because of this, and taking into account any issues which arise from our inspection of the title deeds, it is impossible to accurately predict how long the process can take. In our experience, the majority of purchases should be completed within 6-10 weeks.
As your solicitors, it is our duty to use our professional judgment to protect your interests. We know from experience that we sometimes discover issues in the Vendor’s title which need to be fixed to make sure that you obtain good title to your property.
Whilst this may take additional time, or may sometimes appear to be trivial or of little practical importance to you, it is vital that all such issues are resolved before you buy the property as they could lead to your Lender refusing to release your advance or affect your ability to sell the property in the future.
We assure you that we will make every effort to keep you informed about the main developments of your case, by letter, email, or telephone call as frequently as may be necessary.
If you have any queries at any time, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
WHAT WE WILL NOT DO
It is important for you to realise that there are certain matters which we cannot advise you on as solicitors as they lie outside of our area of expertise. We have therefore set out the extent of our advice below together with additional steps you may wish to consider to protect your position.
The doctrine “caveat emptor” or “buyer beware” applies to the purchase of property. The doctrine is not designed to protect sellers who make fraudulent or misleading representations about their property but it does place a responsibility upon you to reasonably examine the property and satisfy yourself that the house, its systems and the fixtures and fittings are all in satisfactory condition.
We will not inspect or visit the property – we are only responsible for examining Legal Title and statutory approvals.
If you are obtaining a mortgage your Lender will carry out a valuation report to satisfy themselves that the house is of sufficient value to enable the Lender to recover their loan should they re-possess the house on default of the Mortgage. The valuation report is therefore for the Lender’s benefit only and is by no means a full structural survey of the premises.
You cannot assume that any faults identified in the valuation report represent all the potential issues with the house and you will not be able to rely on the Lender’s survey should faults become apparent at a later date.
Whilst we would recommend that you should have an independent survey carried out, we will leave this decision to you. If your survey does reveal faults then you may be able to have these addressed by the Purchaser before you complete the purchase or alternatively negotiate a reduction in the purchase price so that you can rectify the fault after completion. Please notify us as soon as possible should you wish to have a survey carried out.
Additionally, if you are aware of any alteration, extension or addition to the property, garage, heating system, windows or attic please let us know as soon as possible so we can ask the Vendor to confirm that the work has the necessary statutory approvals.
Boundaries to the Premises
We will forward the Title map relating to the premises for your consideration. When you buy your house you will only obtain legal ownership of the lands contained within the title map, regardless of where the physical boundaries are.
As we will not visit the property we cannot advise you as to whether the Title map encompasses the entirety of the property as it appears ‘on the ground’ or whether the map matches the physical boundaries.
As we can only purchase the lands contained within the legal boundaries you should notify us immediately should you believe that any portion of the premises is outside these boundaries. We will raise this with the Vendor and request that they rectify the situation.
In order to satisfy yourself in relation to the boundaries you may wish to measure the premises personally or retain the services of a surveyor or mapper.
Your Mortgage Offer and Lender’s Requirements
We will write to you once we receive instructions from your Lender setting out the terms of your mortgage and explaining legal consequences of you entering into a mortgage. We would ask to note however that we are not financial advisors nor do we offer financial advice. We cannot therefore advise you in relation to the suitability of the product you have selected, the rate of interest or the affordability of the mortgage.
We have set out some matters below which are commonly raised by Lenders. We are bringing these to your attention as they could delay the purchase of the premises should they come to light during the course of the transaction. It is always best to inform your Lender of these issues as soon as possible so as to smoothly progress towards the drawdown of funds from your Lender.
If any apply to your purchase please let us know as soon as possible.
If your balance purchase money is coming from a friend or family member by way of a gift we need you to inform your Lender as they will usually have a requirement for further documents to be executed.
Your Lender will also insist that all money is paid through our offices and that we have control over the entirety of the purchase money. You therefore need to inform us if you have paid any
money to an estate agent, through an intermediary or directly to the purchaser. We will require evidence of the source of the deposit monies by way of copy bank statement etc.
Buy to Let
Your Lender will also require us to confirm that you intend to reside within the property and that you have not intended to rent it or use it as a holiday home. If you do intend to rent the property you will require a specific buy to let mortgage.