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Freehold Purchase – Pricing

Click below to view, print or download a PDF of the stages of a freehold property purchase and the services provided by Carter Bells:

What does our service not include?

  • Tax advice - we will submit a Stamp Duty Land Tax Return on your behalf to HMRC with the tax based on tax being payable at the standard or additional rate depending on the circumstances you confirm to us. We do not advise on any tax reliefs that may be available in this respect or any other tax consequences of your purchase. If you require this advice, you should seek the advice of a qualified accountant before you proceed to exchange of contracts.
  • Unregistered land - if the property is not registered at the Land Registry, we will have to check all the title deeds produced by the seller’s solicitors to check the seller is the legal owner of the property and check any covenants imposed within all of these deeds. We would provide this service but an additional charge would apply.
  • A defect in title arises - this could be for example if there is a restriction placed on the owner’s ability to sell the property or if covenants affecting the property have been breached or if there is a lack of legal rights to access the property. We would deal with necessary work to ensure the purchase can proceed but an additional charge may be made in those circumstances.
  • Contacting other solicitors and other parties in your chain apart from your seller’s solicitors and your estate agent - we will assist in communicating with your seller’s solicitor and any estate agent but our role does not extend further. We have a professional obligation not to contact your seller directly where they have a solicitor or licensed conveyancer appointed to act for them. If we are required to give information to other estate agents and solicitors involved in your chain, this would be work that is normally carried out by an estate agent so it would mean an additional charge if this service was provided.
  • Further purchase of another property if your initial purchase falls through - we charge for each purchase that you instruct us to deal with. If your initial purchase unfortunately falls through, we would make a charge for the work carried out at that time on that purchase. We would then charge for any new purchase based on our charge for dealing with the purchase of any property because each property differs and thus questions for each property will differ and also your mortgage lender may impose different conditions on their mortgage offer for any new property.
  • Dealing with unforeseen matters - if for example the seller accepts an offer from another buyer and declares a contract race between you and the other buyer that the first person to offer an exchange of contracts will be able to proceed to exchange contracts then we are going to have to carry out a lot of further work in a short space of time to try and ensure you can exchange contracts first. An additional charge would apply in these circumstances.
  • Repossessed properties - we can act if you wish to proceed but do be aware the lender in possession who is selling the property generally will offer no title guarantee and will not answer any enquiries. Consequently, more time is spent obtaining necessary title documents and planning consents in relation to the property. An additional charge would apply in these circumstances.
  • Auction purchases - we can assist with this type of purchase but the charge for the checking of any sale pack and subsequent work relating to the purchase of the property will be based on an individual estimate based on the circumstances of the particular auction purchase.
  • Advising on any structural issues relating to the property - we are not qualified to advise you on the state and condition of the property. If you have any concerns in this respect, you should obtain a surveyor’s advice before exchange of contracts.
  • Valuation of the property - we are not qualified to advise you on the value of the property. If you have any concerns in this respect, you should consult a qualified surveyor or valuer before exchange of contracts.
  • Fraudulent sellers - we rely on the seller’s solicitor or licensed conveyancer to carry out checks the seller is legally entitled to sell the property and is not a fraudster. We will check that the name of the owner on the land registry title matches the person named as the seller on the purchase contract or that the seller is otherwise legally entitled to sell the property based on evidence but we have no way of checking if the seller is a fraudster. We can only advise in this respect that you ensure the estate agent has carried out necessary checks on the seller to be sure they are not a fraudster and if you want us to ask any questions of the seller’s solicitor to check the position then we can do so. You may wish to take additional steps yourself to guard against the risk of the seller being a fraudster. There is a great risk of fraud occurring if you are buying the property from a seller who does not live in the property such as when the property is currently tenanted or is vacant and you do not meet the seller. Examples of some of the further steps you may want to take are:
    • Speaking to neighbours to get assurance whether the seller is who they say they are
    • Visiting the property on more than one occasion and at different times of the day such as once in the morning and once in the evening
  • Negotiating a price reduction following an adverse survey. If a survey reveals a hidden defect (such as damp, subsidence, timber infestation, defective roof, faulty electrics for example), it is for you to negotiate a reduction in price. Please let us know any price reduction agreed though before exchange of contracts as we will need to get this agreed with the seller’s solicitor and will need confirmation from your mortgage lender they will proceed based on the new price before you can exchange contracts.

How long will my purchase take?

This is one of the most common questions we are asked as property solicitors. The short answer is that it depends on the circumstances of your purchase. If there is only you and your seller involved in the purchase and you do not require a mortgage and all parties deal with matters promptly, we generally expect exchange of contracts on your purchase to occur about 4-6 weeks after the contract and papers are received from the seller’s solicitors. The date of completion of your purchase then depends on the requirements of you and your seller. However, we set out below a number of factors that can slow down the progress of your purchase based on our experience but this by no means is the full set of factors that have arisen during a purchase. The factors are:-

  • You need to sell your property at the same time- you are then dependent on how quickly the buyer of your property can proceed too and they may need to sell or take out a mortgage to fund their own purchase
  • You need a mortgage to buy the property- you will then be dependent on how quickly the lender gets the property valued and how quickly the lender decides to issue a mortgage offer as we will need to ensure all conditions of the mortgage offer are complied with before exchange of contracts. This is to be sure you will have the mortgage funds you need to complete your purchase
  • Any survey results- the survey may reveal defects you want rectified or the price reduced before you proceed
  • Search results- we sometimes experience difficulties with local authority getting search results in the first place at busy times of year or if there have been cut backs at the local authority in staffing. There may then be an issue with the search results themselves such as in respect of an environmental search if the search reveals the property is built on contaminated land or for example the local authority search reveals an outstanding enforcement notice against the property.

Legal fees and expenses

Click below to view, print or download our guide to freehold purchase legal fees and third party expenses (disbursements):