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First Time Buyer Q & A

Dominique Oliviero, Solicitor in the Residential Conveyancing Department at Clough & Willis Solicitors, outlines the top 5 questions first time buyers ask

How long will it take before I have the keys?

This is the first question every First Time Buyer has!  Unfortunately it is extremely difficult to give any definite response.  Whilst we endeavour to expedite matters to meet with our clients expectations, we have no control over the Sellers Solicitors and their timescales.  As a general guide, we would usually estimate completion to take place within 6 to 8 weeks of the clients confirming instructions to ourselves, ie; returning the signed client care letter, providing identification and paying costs on account to enable us to order searches.

 Once we have confirmed instructions, what happens next?

Once our clients have confirmed instructions with us, we will then write to the Sellers Solicitors and ask that they provide the “contract pack”.  This is a bundle of documents which shows ownership of the property and contains all relevant information in relation to the legal title to the property.  Once this pack has been received (hopefully within 1 to 2 weeks of you confirming instructions) we will then order your searches and review all the documentation contained in the contract pack in full.  We will then raise any necessary enquiries with the Sellers Solicitors.  At this point we will also write to you to confirm that we have received the contract pack and to give you the details of the legal title, ie; whether the property is leasehold, freehold, details of any covenants affecting the title and also we will provide you with a plan showing the legal boundaries. 

What is the difference between a leasehold freehold title?

A leasehold title is a legal title to a property which is subject to covenants contained in a Lease.  The Lease will usually confirm that the title to the property is for a set period of time, usually 999 years.  At the expiration of this term, the Lease ends and the property is returned to the person who owns the freehold.  Most Leases include a provision for an annual ground rent to be paid to the person who owns the freehold.  In some cases, it may be possible to purchase the freehold from the current owner and in essence, makes the title to your property freehold.

 A freehold title is one that is free from any Leases.  If you own the freehold title to your property, there will be no leasehold covenants to comply with and no annual ground rent payable to a freeholder.  However, in some instances a freehold title can still be subject to the payment of an annual rentcharge.  For further information or details in relation to this please contact us. 

When do I need to pay my deposit?

Once the Sellers Solicitors have dealt with all the enquiries we have raised in full, and all your searches have come back and there are no further issues, we will then arrange for you to come in and sign the contract and transfer in readiness of exchange and completion.  During this meeting, you will be provided with a completion statement which details the exact balance required from you in order for us to exchange and complete.  You will also be provided with our client account bank details for you to transfer the funds.  We will also ask you for evidence of source of the deposit funds.  If the deposit is to come wholly from your own personal savings, we would ask that you provide 6 months worth of statements showing that the funds have been held in an account in your name for a minimum or 6 months or have accrued over the course of 6 months.  If the funds are to be provided by a parent, this would need to be disclosed to us at the outset of the transaction.  If it is the case that a parent is gifting you the deposit, this will need to be disclosed to your mortgage lender and they will ask for written confirmation from your parent of the exact amount being gifted and for confirmation that it is not repayable under any circumstances. 

What happens on the day of completion?

On the day of completion, we will send the completion funds to the Sellers Solicitors first thing.  As soon as the Sellers Solicitors have confirmed they have received the completion funds, they will ring us to let us know and to confirm that the keys to the property have been released at the Estate Agents.  This means that the Sellers Solicitors have rang the Estate Agents and told them that the keys to the property can be released to you as you are now the legal owner.  With regards to timescales, it is not possible to give a specific time for completion.  Legal completion only takes place once completion funds hit the Sellers Solicitors client account.  Depending on how busy the banking systems are on that date this can vary from anything from 10am to 4/5pm.  However, most purchases usually complete between 11am and 1pm. 

If you are thinking of buying your first home and would like some advice, please contact Dominique Oliviero on freephone 0800 083 0815 to discuss further.