Questions You Should Ask Yourself Before Exchange of Contracts When Buying a Property

Rebecca Leeman

Written by Rebecca Leeman, a Graduate Legal Executive at Spire Solicitors Norwich Office.


Do I need a survey?

A survey will look at the physical condition of the property and hi-light 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.


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 can 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.


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? If you’re in doubt as to the position of your boundary, you should take advice from an expert surveyor.


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.


When do I need to pay my Conveyancer?

Your Conveyancer will initially need some money on account for searches and disbursements; usually 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.