Five questions to ask when buying a property

House for sale sign alongside a sold sign

Purchasing a property can be overwhelming, says Donna Buttolph, especially when you are faced with lots of questions. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Donna Buttolph, conveyancing executive at Spire Solicitors, narrows down five of the best questions to ask when buying a property.

Purchasing a property is exciting but it can also be overwhelming, especially when you are faced with lots of questions. To help you through the process, it is important to consider the following:

Do I need a survey?
A survey will look at the physical condition of the property and highlight physical defects or maintenance requirements. There are various types of surveys and a surveyor can advise on the most suitable.
If you are buying with a mortgage, your lender would usually instruct a valuation survey, which is only for their protection. We always recommend surveys to buyers because an expert is able to comment on the physical condition of the property which is something conveyancers cannot do.

Hands typing on computer with property search logos

The team at Spire Solicitors always recommend surveys to buyers because an expert is able to comment on the physical condition of the property - something conveyancers cannot do. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Do covenants matter?
Covenants set out what you cannot do (restrictive) or what you must do (positive) with your property. It is important that you abide by these and that you understand the covenants affecting the property. For example, there may be a covenant prohibiting any extension being built at the property which may be contrary to your intention. Building the extension could be deemed a breach of covenant and you could find yourself in a litigious battle. There is a possibility that a covenant may no longer be enforceable but this is a complex area that is not routinely investigated during the conveyancing process.

Architect or engineer team discussing a project design using blueprints and a laptop computer at the

Convenants set out what you can and cannot do to your property - including with extensions and building work. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Where is my boundary?
The Land Registry does not delineate exact boundary lines nor are the plans provided by them intended to be definitive or legally binding. You should check the Land Registry plan does reflect the position on the ground though – is there a corner of the garden not included?

Residential houses drone above aerial view blue sky with park and greenery

If you’re in doubt as to the position of your boundary, you should take advice from an expert surveyor. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

When should I start my buildings insurance?
From the point of exchange of contracts, the risk usually passes to the buyer. If the property is destroyed between exchange and completion, the buildings insurance would pay for the property to be rebuilt but the buyer would still have to complete in the meantime so as not to be in breach of contract.

Woman sat in bright kitchen with laptop open and paperwork

When it comes to buildings insurance, the risk usually transfers to the buyer once contracts have been exchanged. - Credit: Getty Images

When do I need to pay my conveyancer?
Your conveyancer will initially need some money on account for searches and disbursements, which will usually come to a few hundred pounds. Your deposit is payable just prior to exchange of contracts. Finally, your conveyancer should prepare a completion statement prior to completion which will include all receipts and payments, such as, SDLT, Land Registry fees and your legal fees. You will then need to ensure that the balance is with your conveyancer, in cleared funds, before completion can take place.

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further, please contact Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077 for all your legal needs.

This column is sponsored by Spire Solicitors.

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