Moving house is said to be one of the most stressful things you can be involved in. The process of choosing somewhere you want to buy, can take long enough, but then there is the additional process of purchasing the property. It is important to know the legal issues around buying a house in order to avoid problems as much as possible (or at the very least know how to deal with them).


Conveyancing is the legal process that occurs between the purchase of the property and that purchase being completed. This can include covering payments such as stamp duty, the collection and transfer of money and drawing up contracts.


Another problem is the fact that until the contracts are exchanged, people can walk out at any time. For a buyer, this can be frustrating, especially if someone can come in with a bigger offer (known as “gazumping”). The government is looking into bringing in reservation agreements that would mean that would counter this.


One issue buyers can sometimes have is when they move into their home the house is left in a bad condition. It is possible to write specifically into a contract what you expect when you purchase the property- for example, it can be expensive to remove bulky furniture that you didn’t ask for. You can say what fixtures and fittings you expect to see and how clean the property will be in when you move into it, and if the property is not to that standard, you can raise a complaint.

Exchanging contracts is one of the most crucial moments. Once this has been done, people cannot pull out of the sale without a financial penalty. It is important to set a date, though this can be delayed if the people involved are part of a chain.

Property searching

Before buying a property, it is worth doing a background check about what you are getting. It may be a leasehold or freehold. Ideally, any leasehold should be at least 80 years, as it can cost more to extend (and you need to own the property for two years.)

It is also important to check the title register and title plan with the land registry- this may sound obvious, but you need to be sure that you are buying from someone who is the legal owner. Sometimes searches may need to be made for factors specific to your geographic location (such as tin mining or whether you live near a public footpath). You may also want to look into any potential building work or other projects that may be happening in the local area.

We can help

There are various aspects to purchasing a house that can often be more complex than people initially think. This is why it is vital to work with someone who can take you through the process. For more information or to discuss your personal situation in more detail, please contact our specialist legal professionals today.