Are you buying?

Buying a property is major decision, and at Lewes Smith we make sure we can guide you every step of the way so you make the right investment.

Buying property - step by step

It is a good idea to tell us a soon as you have a house that you want to buy. We can advise on mortgage lenders and surveyors. We can even recommend estate agents if you are still looking for a suitable property to buy. When you decide to buy a property, the estate agents selling it will notify us.

We write to the estate agents, and the seller's solicitors, requesting a copy of the title, property information forms, the contract, (agreement for purchase) and any other relevant documents. We write or email you our Terms of Engagement and Cost Estimate, if we have not yet already done so.

  • Step 1 - Pre-Contract
    • Once we have the contract, and other documents, we will read these carefully.
    • We then send you a copy of the title plan and advice regarding surveys and searches.
    • We may also write to the sellers solicitor's for additional information.
    • We apply for a range of searches through our search provider . A search is a series of questions on matters such as planning, roads, drains, and conservation orders. 
    • At this stage we also out any special searches. Examples might include questions about the effect of underground mines or open-cast workings.
    NOTE about Mortgages

    At this stage you will need a mortgage offer. The process cannot continue unless this is the case. Be sure to read the conditions of your mortgage offer carefully, particularly those relating to life assurance. Occasionally, your mortgage lender may instruct additional solicitors. This is unlikely to be a problem, but may have cost and time-scale implications.

  • Step 2 - Pre-Contract Report
    • Next, we send you a report on the title, contract, and search(es). We are happy to discuss any issues in this report that you do not understand or are unhappy with.
    • Once you have read and understood the report, you must sign it and return it to us
  • Step 3 - Exchange Contracts
    • This is the point in the process when the contract becomes binding. Both you and the seller are committed to the transaction.
    • At this point the completion date (stage six) must be decided and written into the contract.
    • It is usual for the deposit to be paid at this stage.
    • The property should be insured by you or your lender at this point, and, any life assurance associated with your mortgage should be put on risk.
  • Step 4 - Pre-Completion
    • Final Searches are carried out to check that there have not been any changes that may affect the title.
    • A completion statement, and account are prepared to tell you whether we need additional funds from you before you can complete. These take into account the price, the amount of a mortgage, a deposit paid, and other expenses such as stamp duty, land registry fees, and legal costs.
    • When the mortgage funds reach us, along with any other balance required, we will prepare for completion. You may need to call at our offices in person to sign the mortgage deed, and possibly the transfer deed
  • Step 5 - Completion
    • The BIG DAY!
    • Early in the morning we send the completion monies by electronic transfer to the seller's solicitor's bank.
    • On receipt of the funds, the estate agent will be instructed to release the keys (usually before 2.00pm).
    • The seller's solicitors forwards the deeds and transfer deed by post or courier.
  • Step 6 - Post-Completion
    • The Stamp Duty Tax Return is filed on line with the HMRC website and the tax paid by BACS payment. The return has to be filed within 30 days of completion and the tax paid within the same period. Delay can lead to penalty charges.
    • The tax certificate is filed at the Land Registry with the Transfer Deed and Mortgage if appropriate.
    • When registration is complete the Land Registry issue a Title Information Document that contains details of the property and owners. We send you a copy of this along with any other relevant documents. Title deeds no longer exist for registered land and all information is held on the Land Registry’s secure servers.
    • Enjoy your new home!