Buying or selling property

Buying or selling property

Buying or selling property is one of the most important financial decisions you will ever make. It is truly a life changing event -- up there with having a child or getting married. The process can be quite complicated and stressful, so it’s a good idea to consult a solicitor early on to avoid potential problems.

Costs in Buying a Property (£)
Costs in Buying a Property (£)
Source: The University of Greenwich, School of Architecture and Construction

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ico4Frequently asked questions

  • We want to buy property together. What are our options?

    If you’re a couple, particularly if you’re married, you may want to consider buying a place as joint tenants. In this arrangement, both of you will own the whole property. If one of you dies the property will automatically pass to the other. Alternatively, you can hold property as tenants in common, which means that each of you owns a specified proportion of the property. If one of you dies, the deceased’s proportionate interest in the property (be it 50%, 30%, whatever...) will not pass automatically to the survivor.

  • What happens at exchange of contracts?

    At exchange of contracts, the purchase and sale of the property become legally binding. Your solicitor will conduct a short telephone conversation with the other party’s solicitor, agree a completion date and pay/collect the deposit. If you withdraw from the transaction after exchange, you will incur financial penalties. Note also that upon exchange the risk of loss in the property will pass from the seller to the buyer. Thus, the buyer should arrange building insurance well before exchange to cover against any potential loss.

  • What happens at completion?

    Completion signals the end of the transaction and the point at which the buyer finally takes possession of the property.

  • Can a buyer access the property before completion?

    This will depend on the seller. Usually, if he or she vacated the property before completion, the buyer will be allowed access, for example to carry out repairs or improvements.

  • How can I reduce my liability to stamp duty?

    If the purchase price is just above a stamp duty threshold – namely, £125,000, £250,000, or £500,000 (or £1million from 6 April 2011) – and includes fixtures and fittings, such as carpets, curtains, a cooker, a fridge, or a freezer, you may legitimately apportion part of the purchase price towards these items. If this takes the purchase price for the building and land below the stamp duty threshold you’ll decrease (or eliminate) your liability for stamp duty.

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