Buying a property, especially your first home, is an exciting period of time for anyone. You may have already visualised where you are going to put the TV, picked out the curtains and read up on Feng Shui. However, have you read your solicitor’s report on your Property?
Every good conveyancer will give you a ‘Report on Title’ before asking whether you want to proceed with the purchase and exchange contracts. After that point, you are obliged to continue with the sale, or lose your deposit.
This Report may be daunting and, in some cases, very long, but it is really important you read and understand it.
The Title Register
Any good report will contain a copy of the Title Register and Title Plan. The former will say who currently owns the Property (should be the Seller!) and lists restrictions on the Property, if any.
Restrictions can date all the way back to the previous century and list restrictions of all types, such as how high a fence around the Property may be, or that you cannot build a shed.
Your solicitor will tell you whether these should be of concern to you, and whether insurance may be required to protect you from any claims or issues arising as a result of the items listed on the Title Register.
The Title Plan shows you the extent of the property you are buying. This should correspond with what you think you are buying!
Searches will detail general information about the Property and the land on which it is situated. The Local Authority search will tell you whether the road leading up the house is public property, whether there have been any planning applications and the outcome of those, as well as wider local information such as whether a new train line is about to be built nearby (e.g. HS2) or airport expanded. Again, your solicitor will ask the seller the key questions as to whether any of these may affect you, and whether any issues have arisen during their period of ownership.
The water and environmental searches will tell information such as where the nearest water pipe is, who supplies the water and sewerage services, and whether the property is at risk of subsidence. It will also tell you whether the property is on or near the green belt, conservations zones or listed buildings. Your solicitor should be able to interpret the data and consider whether and how this may affect, for example, the ease of obtaining planning permission or home insurance.
If you are buying a leasehold, the key document is the lease itself and all of its attachments. Depending on the age of the Property, the original document may be in archaic language, but the terms will still affect your tenancy. Your solicitor should provide you with an overview of your rights and obligations under the lease, but you should also read this yourself and ask them any questions. Of course, your solicitor should tell you who the landlord and/or management company is and the term left on the lease, as well as provide information on current ground rent and service charges.