Helpful Tips for Buyers

Manns & Manns, Estate Agents in Bursledon, Southampton

Stamp Duty

On the 4th December 2014, the government introduced changes to how stamp duty is charged on residential property.

Instead of a set percentage dependent upon the total price paid for a property, it will be charged at different rates depending on the portion of the purchase price that falls within each rate band.

Calculate Your Stamp Duty

Use this online stamp duty calculator to work out exactly how much you will have to pay:

Stamp Duty Calculator

The Survey

A survey is like an MOT test for homes. It will tell you the condition of the home and point out weak areas. They are not always required, but they can give you the peace of mind of knowing just what you are buying.

Surveys are not to be confused with valuation reports which are commissioned by mortgage lenders to confirm that the property is adequate collateral for the mortgage loan.

Types of Survey

There are three types of surveys that you might want done on your new home.

Full Building Survey

This is the most comprehensive of the three types of survey, also called a structural survey. It takes several hours to prepare, with each element of the property inspected to determine its condition. Any necessary repairs will be identified. You will know, at the end of the survey, if the house needs a new roof or a new electrical system. It is recommended for those who need a building to be thoroughly inspected.

RICS Homebuyers Report

While each element of the property is inspected, it is not done to the same degree as a Full Building Survey. The survey is based on a pre-printed form prepared by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. This type of survey reports on those areas which affect the value of the property.

Defect Report

This survey concentrates on a particular defect specified by the client. For example, if you noticed that the walls had several cracks in them, you may want a surveyor to come in and figure out the cause and risk associated with the problem.

Where to find surveyors

You should commission your survey only by Chartered Building Surveyors. Look for the initials FRICS or MRICS next to their name.

Cost and time

The cost and time to complete your survey will depend upon which type of survey you have commissioned, and the size, condition and location of your home. It is best to get two or three quotes from different surveyors in the area to assess market rate. You may also wish to speak to your us about typical costs in the area.

Conveyancing is the transfer of ownership of property or land from one person to another. It is necessary to ensure that the new owner has proper legal title to the property.

Who does the legal work?

Legally, conveyancing can be undertaken by anyone. However, the process can be time consuming and complicated and most people prefer to employ a professional. In addition, most lenders will insist on a solicitor or licensed conveyancer acting for them if the transaction involves a mortgage.

Whilst “family solicitors” can do the work involved, many people opt to use specialised conveyancers, who are qualified in property matters. In England and Wales, both solicitors and licensed conveyancers can deal with property conveyancing. Licensed conveyancers do not operate in Scotland. The important thing to remember when choosing a conveyancer is to check that the person that you choose to deal with your conveyancing matters is regulated by a governing body.

Conveyancing process

Your conveyancer should undertake the following…

Receipt of draft contracts

This contract is a legal document that sets out the terms of the sale. It is initially drafted by the seller’s conveyancer. It will contain details about the property, items that are to be included in the sale, the buyer’s and seller’s particulars, how much the property will be sold for, and the transaction date. It has two parts – The Particulars of Sale and The Condition of Sale. The Particulars describe the property and details of the lease or freehold. The Conditions have information about the proposed completion date and any deposit required when contracts are exchanged.

Preliminary work

Before the commencement of work on the contract, your conveyancer will send a list of questions to the seller’s conveyancer, such as:

Property Information form

Your conveyancer will send you a summary of the items that will go into the draft contract, such as fixtures, fittings, boundaries, etc. You should check that it meets your expectations.

Registry search and Land charge

Your conveyancer will check that the seller actually owns the property and is permitted to sell it. They should include any covenants associated with the property. They should obtain the Title Deed and the Land Registry certificate for the property.

Local searches

The local authority will check if new developments are planned (such as new roads or other construction) next to the property. The authority should also check water drainage and planning restrictions on and next to the property. These searches can take anywhere from two to ten weeks to complete, dependent upon your local authority’s backlog of requests.

You can speed up the process by employing a surveyor to do a Personal Search. This means that you pay an additional fee to a local expert who will usually do the same work as the council in a week or less. This surveyor can also expand the search to look at developments happening in the area, not just next to your property.

Draft contract approved

Once the buyer and seller are satisfied with the terms, draft contracts are sent out to both parties for signature.

Formal mortgage offer

The buyer needs to assure the seller that he can pay for the property – through a mortgage in this case – before he will hand over the keys.

Arrange for completion

In an ideal world, you would simultaneously exchange and complete contracts on the same day and pick up the keys, but that doesn’t always work. You may exchange contracts several days or weeks before formally completing the sale and taking possession of the keys.

Legal stages in England and Wales

First stage: Sale agreed

Seller’s conveyancer

Buyer’s conveyancer

Second stage: Exchange of contracts

Seller’s conveyancer

Buyer’s conveyancer

Third stage: Completion

Seller’s conveyancer

Buyer’s conveyancer


  1. The seller receives your deposit (if there is one), when you exchange contracts.
  2. The seller’s conveyancer finds out how much the seller still owes on his current mortgage (if any).
  3. The seller’s conveyancer approves the transfer deed – which formally transfers ownership of the property to you – and arranges for the seller to sign it.
  4. Your mortgage company will send the balance of the purchase fund to the seller’s conveyancer.
  5. The seller’s conveyancer will send the transfer deed to your conveyancer.
  6. The seller’s conveyancer will take his fee and expenses out of the funds the seller has received.
  7. The seller’s conveyancer will clear the balance of the seller’s mortgage. For example, if the seller still owed £30,000 on his mortgage, the seller’s conveyancer would pay that off from the funds sent by you.
  8. The seller’s conveyancer will send the remainder of the money to the seller.
  9. Open the champagne, your purchase is now completely finished!

Countdown checklist

There are so many things to think about, that it is helpful to have a quick checklist handy to know you’ve done it all.

One Month before the Move

One Week before Move

Last Day before Move

Moving Day

For any help or advice please contact us.