Frequently asked questions
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.
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.
Completion signals the end of the transaction and the point at which the buyer finally takes possession of the property.
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.
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.
A deed of trust -- also known as a “declaration of trust and co-habitation”, “trust deed” or a “co-ownership agreement” -- is a legal agreement between the joint owners of property. Read this article to learn why you might need one.
Home equity release arrangements, such as “reverse mortgages,” can be useful tools for retirement planning. It is important, though, that a homeowner entering into such an arrangement has a good understanding of its disadvantages as well as its advantages.
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