Buying a Property FAQs

At Lovell Chohan, we are leading experts in buying property in London and the South East, so can offer a swift, smooth and reliable conveyancing service to match your needs.

We know that many people have questions about how buying property works, so the following are some of the most common questions we hear and the answers you need.

If you have a question we haven’t covered, or want to find out more about our residential conveyancing services, please contact your local Lovell Chohan office in Hounslow, Slough, Twickenham, Mayfair or Chancery Lane now.

How long does it take to buy a property in the UK?

This will entirely depend on the circumstances, but in general most residential property purchases can be completed in around 6-12 weeks.

What costs are there for buying a property in the UK?

There are various costs to consider when buying UK property, including:

  • The purchase price
  • Mortgage fees
  • Conveyancing fees
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax

These costs will generally depend on the value of the property and any special issues that need to be account for.

What conveyancing checks do you carry out?

During the conveyancing process, your solicitor will arrange for a number of checks to be carried out on your behalf. Exactly what checks are needed will depend on the type of property and where it is located e.g. if you are in a former mining area, you might need a coal mining survey, but for many properties this will not be necessary.

Standard conveyancing checks recommended for most properties are:

Local authority checks – Covering local issues that may affect the property, such as planning applications, major road works, nearness of railway lines and whether the property is listed or in a conservation area.

Water and drainage search – Covering where local sewers run, whether there is a sewer running under the property, whether you are connected to the local sewers and where the water mains are.

Depending on the location of the property, your conveyancer may also recommend additional checks, such as:

Environmental searches – Where there are concerns about land contamination in the local area e.g. if there is a land fill site nearby.

Coal mining survey – If you are in a former coal mining area and there is a risk of subsidence to the property.

Commons registration – If the property borders common land or a village green.

Chancel repair liability search – If the property is near a church, the owner of the property could be legally obliged to contribute to the maintenance of the church. These costs can be very high, so this type of check is well worth carrying out where appropriate.

Do I need a property survey?

Whenever you buy a property, it is always a good idea to have a survey to see if there are any potential issues that could cost you money to fix after the sale is done. If any issues are uncovered, it can allow you to back out before you commit to the purchase or let you negotiate a better price to reflect the expected cost of fixing the issues.

There are several different types of property survey you can choose from and all should be carried out by a professional surveyor who will normally need to be a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). They vary in how thoroughly the property will be examined, with the more in-depth surveys being more expensive.

The common types of property surveys you can choose from are:

Condition Report – The least expensive and most basic type of report, this uses a traffic light system to indicate potential areas of concern but does not give specific advice on what should be done to address these issues.

Home Buyers Report – A more detailed report looking for major issues such as subsidence or damp. However, this type of survey is non-intrusive, meaning the surveyor will not move furniture, lift floorboards or in any other way look ‘beneath the surface’ of the property.

Building Survey – The most thorough and costly type of report, this involves a surveyor investigating the whole property, including under the floors, behind walls, above ceiling and in lofts. The report will involve specific advice on any repairs that need to be carried out, the likely costs involved and what might happen if these repairs are not made.

Home Condition Survey – Provided by the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA) this looks at issues such as broadband speed, damp and property boundaries. This type of survey is normally carried out in addition to a more standard property survey.

When does the sale of a property become legally binding?

The sale becomes legally binding on both parties the moment contracts are exchanged. Up until this point, either party can pull out with no legal consequences.

If you were to try to pull out after exchange of contracts, you could lose your deposit and face legal action from the seller.

If the seller tries to pull out after exchange of contracts, you can take legal action to force them to complete the sale under the agreed terms.

How does stamp duty work?

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) (commonly referred to as ‘stamp duty’) is a tax on property sales paid by the purchaser.

Under the current rules, stamp duty is due on residential properties worth £125,000 or above, with the amount you have to pay depending on factors such as:

  • The property value
  • Whether the property is freehold or leasehold
  • If you are a first time buyer
  • Whether you will own two or more properties once the purchase is complete
  • Whether the property will be your main residence

Do I need to be in the UK to buy property there?

No, there is no requirement to be a UK resident or located in the UK to buy property here. You will, however, need to sign the contracts in person. If you are located abroad, please get in touch and we will be happy to discuss how we can make the purchase work for you.

Who holds the title deeds to the property?

In most cases, the title deeds will be held by the lender who is financing the purchase.

How is buying leasehold property different to buying freehold?

When you buy a leasehold property, you are actually paying for the right to occupy the property for the period of time set out in the lease. If you are taking over an existing lease, you will be buying the time remaining on that lease.

As the owner of a leasehold, you will normally have to pay annual ‘ground rent’ and regular service charges to the freeholder or their property manager. These costs can be substantial, so it is important to make sure you are clear about these financial commitments before agreeing to purchase a leasehold property.

It’s also important to note that the value of the property will decrease the less time there is remaining on the lease, so this is an important consideration when buying a leasehold.

Speak to our residential conveyancing solicitors in London and South East England

For reliable, expert advice on buying property in London and the South East, please get in touch with our highly experienced conveyancing solicitors now.

Contact your local Lovell Chohan residential conveyancing team by getting in touch with our offices in Hounslow, Slough, Twickenham, Mayfair and Chancery Lane.