since 1909


News & Resources

Purchasing a Property

Maureen Ross

Buying a home can be an exciting prospect but without the help of an experienced Solicitor it can also be a legal minefield and a possible financial disaster. Your Solicitor is qualified in all areas of Property Law and is there to help you avoid potential problems, and delays.

You can rest assured that your Solicitor will protect your interest at every step, from making an offer on a property to obtaining the keys to the door. Some of the most common problems experienced by buyers include the following:-

1. Don’t Buy in the Wrong Area for You:

Prior to making an offer on any property, it is important that you do your homework first and research the local area to ensure it is right for you. Depending on personal circumstances this may include researching the quality and types of schools in the area, reviewing public transport infrastructure while also confirming with the Local Authority that there are no plans for major developments or road works in the area.

2. Making an Offer on a Property:

Once you have found the property you wish to purchase the next step is to make an offer. This is typically done through the Estate Agent for the Seller to then consider. Again, research into property prices in the Local Area will enable you to make a sensible offer. An independent professional valuer can help make this process simpler. On acceptance of your offer, it is advisable that you request the Seller and Estate Agent to take the Property off the market immediately.

3. Renovation/Extensions:

If you are planning to buy a property that requires renovation or you plan to carry out structural alterations, then it is important that you have an accurate estimate of costs. Consulting with a Builder or Architect at an early stage will give an estimation of the likely additional outlay. Secondly, you must make sure that you will be able to obtain Planning Permission for any structural changes that you wish to carry out to the property. It is, therefore, worth while contacting the Planning Office at the local Council to make initial enquiries or, indeed, consult your Conveyancing Solicitor. Thirdly, a survey is vital, particularly if you are buying an older property. The survey will highlight any problems with the property.

If you are planning on carrying out extensions or renovations then let your Solicitor know at an early stage in the purchase process so that checks can be made to ensure there are no restrictions on title against structural alterations or extensions.

4. Property Chains (In England and Wales):

The dreaded chain cannot usually be avoided. The problem with this is that once you are involved in a chain there may be a number of parties and any of the Buyers or Sellers involved in the chain are free to pull out of a deal at any time before exchange of contracts without penalty. However, if you are a first time Buyer there will be no-one below you in the chain or, for example, if you are selling a property as an Executor, there will be no-one above you in the chain.Most house sales are part of a chain of Sellers and Buyers but only one link needs to fail to jeopardise all of the transactions involved in that chain. If someone does drop out of a chain, it is likely to delay the transaction, however, there is also the possibility that the chain could completely fall apart and, at that stage, if this is a possibility, you may need to consider options such as a bridging loan which can be risky and expensive or if you have sold your home but lost the home you plan to buy due to a break in the chain, you may wish to consider renting accommodation until you find a new home rather than lose your Buyer.

5. Be Sensible: Get Good Legal Advice From an Experienced Solicitor:

Getting good legal advice from an experienced Solicitor is vital to avoid pitfalls when you are purchasing a property and to offer guidance throughout the transaction. Your Solicitor will carry out the necessary searches regarding such matters as ownership, debts and mortgages, authorised use of land, whether appropriate rights of way and drainage are in place, environmental issues such as pollution or importantly the likelihood of the property flooding and if there are any planned developments in the area which may affect the property. Your Solicitor will also check that the relevant building licences and permissions for any alterations, additions or renovations have been approved appropriately by the local Council.

Your Solicitor will also make sure that the contract you enter into provides for all aspects of the transaction and will ensure that you understand the terms of the contract prior to it being exchanged with the other party’s Solicitor, as once exchange has taken place, you are legally bound to either sell or buy under the contract for your particular transaction or you may face substantial financial penalties.

Purchasing a property is usually the biggest financial commitment most people make in their lifetime. In the long term, it will save you time, money and a headache if you get good advice from the start to the end of the process.

Contact us at W Davies

If you would like any further information on any of the above matters or with regard to Conveyancing generally, please contact us on 01483 744900 or at to speak to one of our Conveyancers in Woking, from our Property Team.

Further reading