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Buying Guide

Transaction Costs

 

 

 

Who Pays ?

Stamping Duty

0% - 4%

buyer

Legal Fees

0.5% - 1%

buyer

Land Registry Fees

0.04% - 0.15%

buyer

Agent’s Fees

2%-3.5% (+ 17.5% VAT)

seller

Cost paid by buyer

0.54% - 5.15%

 

Cost paid by seller

2.35% - 4.11%

 

Roundtrip Transaction costs            2.89%-9.26%

(Source : Global Property Guide)

 

How difficult is the property purchase process in the UK?

There are no restrictions on foreign ownership.

Buying property in UK can be summarized in 3 stages: the search and offer, conveyancing and the final touches.

 

1. The search

Find a suitable property and make an offer, usually through your real estate agent. The offer does not legally bind you to buy, neither is the seller legally bound at this stage – seller reserve the authority - ‘gazumping’ or withthdrawing from an agreement to buy or sell before the final contract has been signed is very common in UK.

 

2. Offer

After your offer has been accepted you may wish to arrange for a survey. A survey is strongly advised for early detection of potential problems. Generally there are two kinds of survey:

•   a building survey, which will cost you roughly £500 to £1000

•   a homebuyer’s report, which will be cheaper at about £300 to £500

Fees for surveys can be variable depending on the type of property. Negotiate.

 

3. Conveyancing (legal transfer)

You will need a solicitor or a licensed conveyor for this. Again, there is no set fee scale so negotiate, and upon engaging with solicitor, you must clarify whether VAT and/or disbursements is/are included in the upfront quotation. Conveyancing proceeds through an exchange of notes between the seller’s solicitor and your solicitor. A “draft contract” will be drawn up by the seller’s solicitor containing the price, information about the seller’s deeds of title, etc.

Your solicitor will check this and negotiate with the seller’s solicitor. Searches, enquiries and surveys undertaken on your behalf, you are required to conduct Local Authority Search, to check that the property is not in the way of any project; a search at the Land Registry to check security of title. Other enquiries will check on things like mineral rights, flooding, pollution, etc. This part of the conveyancing process will take a minimum of two weeks, but it not unusually takes two or three months.

Once you and your solicitor are satisfied, you sign final contracts. This binds both parties legally - the sale must go through. At this point you hand over a non-refundable 10% deposit.

A transfer contract documenting the transfer of title will next be prepared and signed by both parties. A completion date will also be agreed upon. Between the contract signing and completion date, proper arrangements with the Land Registry office are made: stamp duty and other fees connected with registering are paid. Payments are now completed and the deeds are handed to you. The process is over; you are now a proud owner.

 

4. Selling a property

According to Housing Act 2004, a Home Information Pack (HIP) must now be provided before properties in England and Wales can be put on the open market for sale with vacant possession. The idea is to reduce the probability of (large) number of abortive sales in England and Wales.

The pack must be no more than three months old when the property is first marketed, and must contain:

  • An energy Performance Certificate
  • A sale statement
  • A copy of the title documents for the property
  • Local Authority and drainage searches
  • An index

 If the property is leasehold or commonhold, then the pack must also include the following:

  • A copy of the lease
  • Building insurance policy
  • Contact details for the landlord or management and any legal details
  • Regulations that apply
  • Recent service charge receipts and accounts

The initial idea was to include a Home Condition Report, to reduce the cost burdens on buyers, but this was not implemented. Failure to provide a Home Information Pack, or supplying an incomplete pack carries a fine of £200.

Home Information Packs should cost between £300 - £600 for most properties in England and Wales. Some estate agents are offering HIPs for free, however the Law Society recommends you use independent HIP providers, to avoid being tied in or triggering penalty clauses.


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