The buyer's solicitor receiving the draft contract pack is a key stage in the conveyancing process and the speed at which it is achieved is solely reliant upon the sellers of the property and their solicitors. The contract pack contains all the information the seller knows about the property, along with the draft contract which is what will be used at the point of
The stage prior to this in the conveyancing process
is in fact the beginning where the estate agent sends out the memorandum of sale to the sellers and buyer's solicitors confirming the agreed offer price. The memo also details any additional terms agreed during negotiations between the seller and the buyer such as chattels, an exchange date or a clause to confirm that the buyer's offer is subject to survey. Once the sales memo is received by both solicitors they'll confirm their instruction by their respective clients and then the seller sends across the draft contract pack.
If there is a delay (longer than 1 to 2 weeks after the sales memo has been released) in the buyer's solicitor receiving draft contracts this can often be related to the time it takes the seller to complete the legal property information forms and putting together the supporting documents. It could also be that the seller's solicitor is very busy and is delayed in preparing the draft contract. The best advice is to ask the estate agent to chase the seller and their solicitor to find out when the draft contracts are going to be sent to the buyer's solicitor - until the buyer's solicitor receives these documents, there is nothing they can do to progress your conveyancing.
What is included in the draft contract pack?
This is the actual contract that is used to formally bind the seller and buyer into the transfer of the title
. Most contracts include the standard conditions of sale which can be viewed here along with a blank contract (Standard Conditions of Sale)
. Some terms within a contract aren't standard and it is the buyer's solicitor who checks the contract for any terms they feel are not favourable to the buyer or could put them at a disadvantage; legally or financially.
After the draft contracts have been received and then the title check is completed, you'll be sent the contract for signing and you'll note that there is often a lot of hand made amendments to the contract. This is normal as this will have been changes the sellers and buyer's solicitors have mutually agreed - even changing the spelling of names on the contract!
Property Information forms
The information the seller provides should be to the best of their knowledge and supported where possible with evidence. Although the seller can choose not to provide information, the buyer may not proceed with the purchase if they feel that the lack of information is hindering their ability to make an informed decision with the property purchase.
There are 3 property information forms that the seller is expected to complete for the buyer and these are:
TA6 Property Information Form
The seller list information regarding the following categories: Boundaries, disputes and complaints (with neighbours), notices and proposals, alterations, planning and building control, guarantees and warranties, insurance, environmental matters, rights and informal arrangements, parking, other charges, occupiers, services, connections to utilities and services and transaction information.
Tip to buyers: As you have been to the property, if once you receive these documents you notice any discrepancies then you must inform your solicitor and ask them to raise these in the formal legal enquiries to seek satisfactory clarification.
TA10 Fixtures & Fittings Form
The seller lists information regarding: Basic fittings, kitchen, bathroom, carpets, curtains and curtain rails, light fittings, fitted units, outdoor area, TV, stock of fuel and other items.
Tip to buyers: If the seller confirmed to you verbally, email or through the estate agent, that they are going to leave certain items as part of the sale price then you must ensure these are listed in the Fixtures & Fittings Form.
TA7 Leasehold Information Form (if the property is a leasehold)
The seller list information regarding the following categories: The property, relevant documents, management of the building, contact details
Warranties, guarantees, planning permission and building control certificates
Although these should be provided with the above property forms, it is important the buyer gets copies of any certificates, guarantees or warranties because they'll need to check if these transfer to them. This is especially important in relation to double glazing, building extensions, boiler installations, cavity wall insulation and solar panels.
Tip to buyers:
If the property has an extension but this isn't
included in the property information form, that it doesn't
appear in your Local Authority Search
and that there aren't
any building control sign off certificates, then YOU MUST flag this up to your solicitor immediately.You can also check the Local Authority website to see what information they hold about your property.
The title plan sets out the boundary of the property you are buying - make sure the property boundary includes all of the property you saw as sometimes boundary fences get moved over time and you don't want a boundary dispute with your neighbour.
Office copy documents and deeds
An office copy is a snap shot of who the current legal owners are, restrictions and charges registered against the property. This is where you'll find out if there are restrictions stopping you from doing anything with your property such as development or a right of way that runs through your property.
Charges such as mortgages and loans will be listed here and the seller's solicitor will handle the clearing of these charges upon completion so that your title is clear of the seller's charges. If you are securing a mortgage over the property to fund the purchase then your solicitor registers the mortgage lender's interest over the property as a charge after completion (you can read more about - What happens after completion?)
Leasehold Information Pack
This doesn't often get sent by the seller's solicitor at the same time as the draft contract pack because the seller's solicitor can only request this information from the management company at the point they receive the Leasehold Information Form from the seller.
What happens once the draft contracts have been received?
The buyer's solicitor sends a copy of the property information forms to the buyer to review and confirm they agree. Remember, the buyer should make sure the property forms are correct and include what they understand to be included in the purchase such as:
- included fixtures and fittings within the sale price such as white goods or carpets;
- off street parking at the property;
- extensions with planning permission and Building Regulation sign off (be careful buying a house that has not had the extension signed off by building control);
- the correct size of boundary compared to the title plan (if it is smaller or larger speak to your solicitor)