Len Dastard's quick guide to buying a property

6 January 2011

Buenas noches, amigos. I think. The new year party you may have read about, it has left me feeling like an axilas peludas. For reasons that are still unclear, I found a stray labrador wearing my mask and leotard. Ha ha ha.

I am Len Dastard, fictional Mexican wrestler but very real litigation executive. Today I will talk about mortgages, having heard from several HUKD members asking about mortgages and the procedure afterwards.

Despite all the doom and gloom over property, there are still some that are lucky enough to secure mortgages and get on the property ladder. If this is you, this guide is right up your street (ha ha ha, a property-related joke for you, there).

You have an offer accepted and you have also been able to secure a mortgage. Firstly you need to instruct a conveyancer/solicitor to carry out the legal work for you. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t take the first quote that you are given. Shop around and see who is the cheapest but also bear in mind that they might be the cheapest for a reason.

Some estate agents will insist you take their “free legals” option. Check out who they are offering as you do not have to instruct whoever they recommend.

What should I expect my legal representative to do?

Some of their responsibilities will include:

• Take your formal instructions
• Request the Contract papers from the seller
• Undertake relevant searches
• Prepare a full property report
• Negotiate exchange of contracts and dates for completion with the other parties
• Exchange Contracts (the point at which you are legally obliged to purchase the property on the date entered on the Contract)
• Conduct final searches
• Complete
• Pay any Stamp Duty Land Tax
• Register you as the new owner of the property at the Land Registry

I remember this list by using the handy acronym TRUPNECCPR.

What should I be doing at the same time?

The instructed legal representative would let you know when the following needs to be done but it is important (and could save you money in legal fees) if you begin to prepare yourself for completing your purchase. You will need to:

• Provide appropriate identification and a cheque for the out of pocket expenses (such as the searches) which is not usually any more than £250 dependent on the area.

• Arrange for the deposit to be made readily available. Too often the delay in having the deposit means that the moving dates get pushed back.

• Keep an eye on the progress of your mortgage offer and chase up any delays with the property survey/valuation.

• Check the boundaries of the property and advise your legal representative of any alterations or additions to the property (new windows, extensions, loft conversions etc)

• Check out and compare prices (and availability) of local removal companies. Do not book any until you have exchanged Contracts.

• Arrange buildings insurance so that this can be put on “risk” from exchange of Contracts.


Being prepared with the above could limit the extent of the legal representative’s work and therefore have an impact on the time they need to spend working on your purchase which means that the quote would need to be revised. They need to update you regularly with details of the time spent on your behalf so do not be afraid to ask.

It is also advisable to visit the property at different times of the day. A visit in the morning could uncover horrific traffic problems and a visit in the evening could reveal noise issues etc.

The above is just a very basic guide to give you an idea of the work that is involved in buying a property. Are you a first time buyer at the moment or considering purchasing a property? If you've questions about this or have other legal shenanigans you'd like an imaginary Mexican superstar's opinion on, please email me at [email protected]

And remember fans, me va a ahogar a su madre si me cruz!

TOPICS:   Home   Mortgages


  • The B.
    I'd ask around for people's recommendations of solicitors/conveyancers as there are some real shockers out there, conveyancers are generally cheaper and less slack than solicitors but not always.
  • Whisky
    I would always recommend a local small solicitor rather then one of these big city players that estate agents recommend. When we bought in 2009, despite the sellers moving out and into rented accommodation and ourselves being first time buyers it took nearly 4 months to complete. Our solicitor was local and was great, we met her face to face a couple of times and she explained everything we needed to know, anything she needed from us, i.e. signatures she rang and we popped in same day. Our mortgage application was processed in 4 or 5 weeks in which time she had completed the searches. The hold up came from the sellers side who had used Halifax’s recommended solicitor, some big shots in Manchester. It got very stressful about a week before we were due to exchange contracts as our solicitor could not speak to anyone at the sellers end and we had heard they had both got new jobs (the were recently unemployed, desperate and we had offered a very low price on the house) All went through in the end though, patience is a virtue and all that. Nothing more annoying then seeing the house you are buying sat empty though, especially when it’s a near wreck needing three months work before you can move in. Even better was our small local solicitor was even cheaper then a solicitor friend who had offered to do mates rates.
  • Len D.
    Whisky - That is a great example of why the cheapest option is not always the best in terms of quality etc.

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