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solicitors for the purchase of land & estates
Estates & Land Plot Conveyancing Solicitors
Do you require a solicitor to help with selling or buying a plot of land or an estate? If so then contact PSR's expert Land Conveyancing Solicitors to see how we can help you.
We know how stressful and time consuming selling individual plots of land can be. The planning and development stages can be a harrowing experience without the pressure of setting out the right and obligations applicable to each plot. One of our dedicated property solicitors can assist you at every stage of the legal process and keep you fully updated from start to finish. Trust us to help you.
Property transactions involving plots of land or estates with PSR Solicitors
Once you have made the decision to develop and sell off parts of your property please contact us at the earliest opportunity so we can discuss with you your requirements and prepare the contract package.
We can also identify and resolve any issues with your legal title early on. Each plot of land will likely require specific rights being granted, rights being reserved for the benefit of the remainder of the estate, payment obligations on the buyer for maintaining common parts on the estate and restrictions placed on each plot. You will then typically need to place the plots on the market with an estate agent unless you can sell privately.
Once buyers have been found for individual plots we will have the necessary information to hand to immediately start the legal process of selling each plot without delay. The more quickly and smoothly the transaction runs the less likely a risk of it falling through (aborting).
What is the process for buying a plot of land?
This page is intended as a general guide only but contains points of advice relevant to the purchase of a land.
PSR Solicitors is one of the largest team of Land Conveyancing Solicitors in North Wales and a leading firm of Land Conveyancing Solicitors in Cheshire. As such we aim to give as much practical advice as possible and of course great service.
Our job is to ensure that your interests are protected and that the agreements that you make, in relation to what is likely to be your biggest financial commitment, are in your favour so far as can be achieved.
Please note that a completion date cannot be agreed for your purchase until you are ready to exchange contracts, i.e. once all pre-contract information, searches, survey, and, any mortgage matters (if applicable), have been dealt with satisfactorily.
Until exchange has taken place no party to the Contract has any contractual obligations with the other party and is free to withdraw from the transaction without payment for any compensation to the other party in the Contract for any resulting loss.
Land conveyancing work involves dealing with a number of different people and institutions. We estimate the time usually taken from initial instructions to exchange of contracts to be between eight to ten weeks on a standard transaction. Please advise us of any urgency at the beginning of the transaction and we will do all we can to try and expedite.
If you are buying a plot of land which forms part of a chain of transactions it will not be possible to exchange for you until all parties in the chain are ready to exchange also. This could affect the eventual timescale.
You will have received from us a Land Purchase Information Questionnaire.
Please complete it and return it to us as soon as possible, with a cheque payable to PSR Solicitors for any funds requested (if any) to cover the initial searches required.
Do not agree to pay any deposits directly nor enter into any written agreements with your Seller or anyone seeking to represent your Seller without discussing the same with us first, as you could be putting yourself into a position of being bound by a contract that may be contrary to your interests.
If you need finance to assist in the purchase, you should take steps to obtain your mortgage offer as soon as possible.
You must not rely on any information given to you by the Seller or the Seller’s agents. You must ask us to obtain specific confirmation in writing directly from the Seller’s Solicitors on any matters affecting your purchase. Please check any estate agent's details carefully to ensure they are accurate and represent the agreed terms of the purchase, and, let us know straight away if there are any discrepancies.
Checking the physical condition of the land
It will be your responsibility to satisfy yourself directly as to the physical state and condition of it before committing yourself to exchange – Caveat Emptor (i.e. let the Buyer beware) – If you do not have any relevant survey or tests carried out and do not find out about any physical problems with the land until after exchange of contracts, it is too late to do anything about it and any expenses incurred as a result thereof will be your sole responsibility.
We strongly advise you to obtain an independent Survey Report and Valuation on the Land you wish to buy prior to exchange, whether or not you are to obtain a mortgage. Only an independent Surveyor will be responsible to you and take your particular requirements into account. An independent Surveyor will cost you a little more but when compared with the investment being made and the potential risk involved this extra expenditure is extremely worthwhile. You must then take note of any recommendations made by the Surveyor and decide if you wish to make further enquiries.
It is important to remember that if your Lender arranges a Valuation, this is undertaken for the benefit of the Lender only. It is NOT a detailed survey or report and must not be relied upon to identify issues with the condition of the land.
Once you become aware of any potential problems in such matters, you will be able to negotiate further with the Seller before committing yourself to Contract.
Life Insurance Cover
It is for you to ensure that you arrange sufficient life insurance cover to repay your mortgage (if any) fully in the event of your death during the mortgage period. Furthermore, should you choose a mortgage whereby you only pay interest to the Lender you need to ensure that you arrange a suitable investment policy to repay the capital borrowed from the Lender at the end of the mortgage term as well. As there are numerous types of mortgages on the market nowadays, you must enquire with your Mortgage Broker as to the type acceptable by you and ensure that all necessary arrangements are made via your Mortgage Broker on your application for the mortgage.
You must ensure that your Mortgage Broker forwards to us insurance cover details for approval before exchange. Many mortgage Lenders require us to ensure the correct type of cover has been arranged before we are able to proceed to exchange.
Upon receipt of the mortgage instructions from your Lender we will advise you of the type of mortgage issued and the Lender’s requirements as to insurance.
Legal work prior to contracting to buy a plot of land
Before you can contract (i.e. Exchange) the following steps must be completed:
- We must receive satisfactory draft contract from the Seller’s Solicitors.
- We must receive satisfactory replies to all enquiries on the land.
- We must receive satisfactory results of searches which will cover:
a. Planning, Building Regulations, Road Schemes and Charges, Drainage and Sewerage pipes and Water Supply pipes, Notices and Orders of Local Authority, Public rights of way.
- Additional Searches as required depending on the nature and location of the Land (e.g. Coal Mining, Mineral, Environmental Searches, underground pipes or conduits).
Such searches do not disclose any development proposals on neighbouring land or buildings, and, you would need to inspect plans at the relevant Planning Authority personally to satisfy yourself as to this aspect before you commit to contract.
Specialist Land Survey
If you intend to develop the land it would be advisable to obtain specialist land surveys, such as an ‘As-built survey’, ‘boundary survey’, ‘Engineering Survey and Control Networks’, ‘Topographical Survey’. The Survey should be carried out as soon as possible and certainly before exchange of contracts. As above, you must take note of any recommendations made by the Surveyor and decide if you wish to make further enquiries.
Buying Agricultural Land
If the land you are buying is agricultural you should determine from the selling agent at the outset if the land is being sold with the benefit of basic farm payment entitlements. If so, you will need to arrange for the entitlements to be transferred to you (within the required time limits) or instruct your land agent do to so. If entitlements are attached to the land but are not part of the purchase, you may still be required to comply the seller’s cross compliance obligations on the land for a period of time after the completion date of your purchase.
You must also determine if the land is subject to any grazing or other agreements which will allow occupiers to remain on the land after the completion date of your purchase. We will raise an enquiry of the seller in relation to grazing or other occupational licences on the land as part of our standard enquiries.
A Wayleave is a legally binding agreement between a land owner and Telecoms, Utilities or Fibre providers that grants access for the installation and subsequent maintenance or management of network cabling and equipment over or under land. We will raise an enquiry of the seller in relation to this as part of our standard enquiries. A small yearly Wayleave fee is usually payable to the land owner.
In a land sale, the term “overage” refers to a sum of money which a seller may be entitled to receive (claw back) when completing the sale of a piece of land, provided a specified condition is satisfied. This claw back is usually relevant when the land has a potential for development. If this is the case, the seller would be entitled to claim back a percentage of any increase in value should you obtain planning permission on the land within a period of time (this could be as long as 50 years). It is therefore crucial that the terms of any Overage are discussed in detail.
Although the seller will indicate which boundaries he is responsible for, it is advisable to check the physical boundaries of the land when you inspect. You will need to be satisfied as to the existence and condition of the boundaries. If there are currently no boundaries it will need to be determined who will have the obligation to put in place the boundaries and who will maintain all boundaries in the future.
Should you require planning permission to use the land for your intended purpose, it is advisable to obtain such permission as soon as possible. It is however possible to enter into a contract but that it be conditional on the grant of satisfactory planning permission. You would therefore be able to cancel the contract should planning permission not be granted with a set timescale. The wording within the contract should therefore be discussed in detail.
Receipt by you of a satisfactory mortgage offer (if applicable)
If you require a mortgage to finance your purchase (i.e. on a development site), we must receive mortgage instructions from your Lender and ensure that all special mortgage conditions are complied with.
We will report to you as the above arise (please though advise us when you are in receipt of your written offer of mortgage). Should you have any queries on any matter at any point above please contact us immediately as we will not proceed to exchange until you are satisfied with the same.
Once all the matters above are satisfied we will arrange for you to sign the Contract. We will send you a Completion Statement and request a deposit from you which is required by the Seller on exchange. This is usually 10% of the purchase price. Please note that we will require the deposit from you via a Bank to Bank transfer. All types of cheques including Bankers Drafts take 7 working days to clear which will delay the exchange.
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) or Land Transaction Tax (LTT)
You must file a LTT/SDLT return immediately following completion. We can do this for you BUT you MUST provide us with all the details required by the WRA/HMRC on the SDLT/LTT Questionnaire & before exchanging contracts. You must ensure you pay us the amount of LTT/SDLT due otherwise we cannot complete the purchase. You will not then be able to complete and will remain contracted to any related sale and may be in breach of contract.
If you are buying land in two or more names, then please make sure you carefully read and complete section 4 of the Purchase Information Questionnaire. If you do not understand this or are unsure then please ask your conveyancer to explain them to you.
Our responsibility with your mortgage lender
If we are instructed by your Lender to complete a mortgage offered to you, then we will also be acting on behalf of such Lender independently of you, and, as explained in the Lenders terms and conditions you will be responsible for the Lender’s separate legal costs.
We are under an obligation to ensure that a Lender’s interest is looked after. We are required to advise the Lender if there are any legal problems disclosed in our investigations and obtain the Lender’s approval to proceed. Further, if we become aware of any inconsistency in instructions received from you and your Lender on any issue, we will endeavour to resolve the same, but, as a measure of last resort only, and in accordance with the Law Society practice guidelines, we would have to decline to act for both you and your Lender if differences in instructions are irreconcilable.
Your Lender will require us to obtain documentary proof of your identification before authorising us to exchange. If you will not be able to provide your current Passport as proof, please contact us to discuss alternative proof which will satisfy your Lender.
Your Lender will also require us to ensure that all special conditions of the mortgage offer issued to you are complied with prior to exchange. We will not be aware of such conditions until we are in receipt of formal mortgage instructions from your Lender.
Please note that if you are going to mortgage the land, you will be required to observe the rules and conditions of your Lender, which will include keeping the land in good condition, making no alterations or allowing anyone else to obtain rights of occupation without your Lender’s written consent. You will, of course, have to keep mortgage payments up to date.
Signing your contract
You will be asked to sign the Contract when you are satisfied with our investigations.
Signing a Contract and paying a deposit to us does not bind you to buy. You will be legally bound to purchase once the exchange has taken place.
Exchange of contracts
Once all parties in the chain are ready to commit to the contract and have agreed a completion date exchange of Contracts can proceed. At this stage, the completion date is fixed and neither party can alter the transaction, back out, or, delay completion without suffering financial loss.
Completion must take place on a working day (i.e. not a Sunday, Saturday or Bank Holiday). You will not be entitled to possession of the land until completion has taken place.
Financial loss could include:
a) interest for late completion,
b) the deposit you have paid
c) a claim for the balance of the 10% of the purchase price if the deposit is less than 10% of the purchase price, and;
d) damages to compensate the Seller and any other parties involved in the chain suffering loss.
It is vital that you are satisfied that you can meet the completion date before you instruct us to exchange Contracts.
Further note that during busy times of the year like Christmas or Easter, for example, you should ensure that removals are available on a required date before authorising us to exchange for such date.
Please note that completion is usually two to four weeks after exchange, in order that additional work between exchange and completion can be undertaken.
Between exchange & completion
We will undertake completion searches to protect the purchase and mortgage (if any).
The Deeds are signed to transfer ownership to you and to complete your mortgage (if any).
We will request the release of the net mortgage money from the Lender (if applicable). Please note that a Lender will normally require a notice period of approximately seven days to release the money (different Lenders have different notice periods though).
Any money due from you to complete your purchase as set out in our Completion Statement to you must be received by us via a Bank to Bank transfer. All types of cheques including Bankers Drafts take 7 full working days to clear which will delay the completion.
You must make sure that you have clear arrangements for the transfer of the key (should the land be secured by a locked gate). Check with us if you have not been able to deal with this either through the agents or the Seller direct.
Providing that completion can take place, we will ensure that the completion money is paid on the day of completion and keys released by the Seller’s Solicitors. Please note that you will not be entitled to the gate keys for the land until your Seller’s Solicitors have physically received the balance to complete the transaction from us and telephoned us to confirm the keys have been released. We will then telephone you to confirm you can collect the keys.
We will confirm to you and your Lender in writing that completion has taken place.
On your behalf, we will deal with payment of SDLT/LTT, if applicable, and apply for registration of your ownership and the Lender’s mortgage with H.M. Land Registry.
Once registration has taken place, we will send you a copy of your registered deeds for you to keep and send the originals deeds and documents (including any originals guarantees received) to the Lender as security for your mortgage. If you have not taken out a mortgage or other secured loan then we will forward the original deeds to you or your Bank, or retain them ourselves, for safekeeping, as you may direct.
Please be aware that we are instructed to ensure you have a good and marketable title to the land you are buying. We cannot advise you on valuation or survey issues nor any other matter that does not relate to the legal process.
The process described above is meant only as a guideline, for any given land purchase transaction certain steps may, in some cases, take a little longer, but hopefully, the guide above provides an idea of the process we must work through.
If you have further questions, please call one of our offices and talk to our location teams.
Do you need a conveyancer to buy land?
If you are looking to sell your estate or a plot of land and you want free advice from a fully qualified Land Conveyancing Solicitor then please contact us now. Using one of our specialist conveyancers ensures that your property transaction will proceed quickly and with the minimum amount of stress.
PSR is one of the leading firms of Land Conveyancing Solicitors in Wales. We are the largest specialist Conveyancing Solicitors in North Wales and Cheshire. Contact us safe in the knowledge that one of our expert property solicitors will manage the sale or purchase of your land expertly
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