Once you’ve found your dream home, make sure you know what should happen during the buying process.
Here’s what exactly you should expect your seller to do before completing…
1. What is an EPC?
The seller must provide you with an Energy Performance Certificate — or EPC — free of charge.
The EPC is produced by an accredited domestic energy assessor and lasts 10 years.
2. Duty of disclosure
The rule of “buyer beware” applies but the seller must not fraudulently conceal known defects or reply dishonestly to pre-contract enquiries.
3. Protocol forms
Your solicitor will have provided you with copies of the property information form, the fittings and contents form, and, if you are buying a leasehold property, with the leasehold information form.
The seller will have completed these forms and answered any additional enquiries raised by your solicitor, and should have done so accurately and honestly.
4. Vacant possession
The Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale (5th Edition) is commonly used in most residential property transactions and provides for vacant possession on completion — unless the contract has been varied, usually because the property is being sold with a tenant.
The property you are buying is presumably for you to occupy, so you will want it to be vacant when you complete the purchase.
The seller should have disclosed prior to exchange of contracts if the property is occupied by anyone other than themselves.
If anyone aged over 18 is living with the seller at the property, that occupier should sign the contract to confirm no rights of occupation are being claimed and that they will leave the property on completion.
Vacant possession also means that on completion, the property should be clear of all contents apart from anything that the parties agreed should be left.
In the property information form the seller should confirm that all rubbish will be removed from the property including from the loft, garden, outbuildings, garden and shed, and that the property will be left in a neat and tidy condition.
The contract will include not only a completion date but also a completion time.
This means that on the day of completion your seller should have vacated the property by the time specified in the contract.
Any charges that may be secured on the seller’s property should be redeemed and discharged by their solicitor on completion — leaving you with a clear title to your new home.