Below are the steps in a typical Sale and Purchase transaction, sample costs and information on how long transactions generally take



1.       The estate agents handling the sale and purchase transactions will send us details of the other solicitor in each case.  They will usually include with these details a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate relating to the property.


2.        On your purchase we’ll write to them for the contract papers and at the same time we’ll send you our general client care information letter, a request to let us have evidence of your ID and also a money-laundering form to complete  asking you to confirm the source of the funds for the purchase. 


3.       On your sale, we'll send you 2 Forms to complete:  a Fittings and Contents Form (what's staying/ what's going), and a Property Information form which asks such things as whether you have undertaken works at the property(and if so, whether you have copy installation certificates or guarantees relating to the work), whether you have altered  the boundaries, whether there have notices from third parties concerning the property; details of the current utility companies etc.  You will receive these forms in turn, duly completed by the Seller, in respect of the property you are buying.


4.        On your purchase, the contract papers received from the seller’s solicitors will comprise the contract itself and also legal title documents, including the land registry plan of the property and the Seller's property information forms.   On receipt of these documents, We’ll commission  the local and environmental searches  (I need the title plan to do this, which is why it is Step 4).  There be other searches which are relevant to the purchase – we will discuss these with you and you can instruct us whether you require them.   The local search in this area  usually takes about weeks (but in other areas can take up to 3 months);  the environmental search is a database search and is  pretty much instant. 


5.       We’ll check the title documents and contract papers and   may need raise enquiries of the sellers/their solicitors based on the documentation supplied.  


6.       Your Buyer's Solicitors will be going through the same process on your sale and may raise enquiries which we need your assistance on.


7.       If you are commissioning a survey on the property – generally a prudent step – then consider asking your mortgage lender to upgrade their valuation survey: this is usually cheaper than having to pay for both the lender’s valuation and a separate survey.  Should you have a survey done?  Er… yes. Generally, it’s a wise move and avoids the risk of inheriting liability for expensive defects in the property which might not be apparent to an untrained person.   There is generally no duty on a seller to disclose defects of which they are aware   - so it’s a bit like buying a used car from a private seller: it’s up to the buyer to check out the physical condition of the property and services such as drains, electrics, heating etc.


8.       On receipt of the searches on your purchase, your lender’s formal mortgage instructions  (about a week after the mortgage valuation)   and  the seller's replies to enquiries, we'll prepare a written  report to you on the purchase for  your approval , with copies of the searches, other relevant legal documents and the contract and mortgage deed  for signature.


9.       You may have points you wish to raise on my report, or further enquiries you wish me to make.  Once you're happy to proceed, we can then exchange contracts provide the other parties in the chain of transactions are also ready.  Exchange is the stage when the parties become legally bound to proceed with the transaction; a completion date is fixed, and the buyer pays a 10% deposit.     Exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously on both your sale and purchase (and on all the other transactions in the chain), so it'll be necessary to agree the completion date with all parties in the chain before exchange of contracts.  Completion has to be on a day the banks are open: so Monday – Friday, excluding public holidays.


10.    We’'ll arrange to draw down the mortgage money in time for completion.    I'll need the balance of the purchase monies plus stamp duty, etc., in cleared funds from you  in time for completion.    Bear in mind that if you transfer the funds by internet banking, there may be a limit of £10k per day, so you may have to go into a branch of your bank to arrange the transfer


11.    On the day of completion, we'll receive the completion monies on your sale direct from the Buyer's solicitors.  We’ll pay off the existing mortgage on your property and we'll transfer the completion funds on your purchase to the Sellers' solicitors.  The property is yours once the funds are received.  The sellers' solicitors will notify the estate agents that the keys may be released to you, and you collect the keys from the agents.  In practice, most people move out of their properties on the morning of completion and then move into their new properties in the afternoon.


12.   Leasehold Property.    This is generally more complex than freehold property because it involves 2 separate legal titles: the leasehold title and estate freehold title; and especially because the property will be subject to a lease.  These are generally quite lengthy documents, and we will need to check that the lease complies with lenders’ requirements (which are continually being updated).  It’s also necessary to investigate the financial issues such as liability for service charges, the risk of liability for future large one-off payments (for example if major improvement works are planned), whether there are any outstanding breaches of the lease (which would be ‘inherited’ by a buyer) etc.  On a sale of a leasehold property the seller is required to obtain and pay for freehold estate information for the benefit of the buyer.  The cost of this varies from freeholder to freeholder but is usually in the region of about £350.00 + VAT.  On a purchase, the buyer is required to register the transfer of ownership with the freeholder.  The freeholder is entitled to charge for this.  The cost varies  but is usually in the region of about £200 - 300 + VAT.


Sample Costs


Here are the costs including expenses (“disbursements”) that may be incurred in a typical freehold sale and purchase  transaction  at a sale price of £270,000 and a purchase price of £380,000.  VAT  is charged at the standard rate of 20%.


Sale Price


Buglear Bate & Co Fees


VAT on fees


Land Registry title entries & plan


Buglear Bate fee for CHAPS                                     mortgage-repayment


Total Sale fees




Purchase Price


Buglear Bate  Fees


VAT on Buglear Bate fees


Personal Local Search fee


Environmental Search fee (including VAT)


Bankruptcy Search fee (£2.00 per purchaser)


Land Registry Search fee


SDLT (Stamp Duty)


Land Registry Ownership Registration fee


Buglear Bate  fee for CHAPS completion-payment


Electronic ID (including VAT)


Total purchase fees



Timing.  This usually depends on the following factors:


1)      How quickly the parties can prepare the Property Information and Fittings & Contents forms for their solicitors to send to the other party’s solicitors.  If there has been a previous abortive transaction, then the seller’s solicitors are likely to have the documents immediately available and this will speed the process up.


2)      How long the final mortgage documentation on the purchase takes.  This is often about 4-5 weeks from the date of application, but times can vary considerably.  The documentation usually comes out to the purchaser’s solicitor about a week after the mortgage valuation.



3)      How long it takes to obtain information from the Freeholder as to the management of the estate


4)      How long searches are taking


5)      Removal companies – they can get very busy during peak periods such as holiday periods


6)      The parties’ requirements – including all the parties in the chain.  Some maybe constrained by factors such as school term dates, giving notice on rental property, holidays, etc.


7)      How many transactions there are in the chain.  Each additional transaction gives rise to more uncertainties and risk of delay.  These uncertainties and risk can be hard to manage because we’ll only have direct contract with our own clients and with the solicitors above and below our clients in the chain. 


8)      Whether there are issues establishing a party’s identity or the source of funds being used for the transaction – this can happen for example where funding is coming from overseas.



Very roughly, a standard sale and purchase freehold transaction with no other parties in the chain is likely to take around 6 – 8 weeks from the date the solicitors are instructed to completion, provided there are no delays in the above steps.     If the transaction is leasehold, then allow about another 3 weeks or so because there may be delays in obtaining the freehold estate information.


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