What is the draft contract pack

The buyer's solicitor receiving the draft contract pack is a key stage in the conveyancing process. The contracts are drafted by the seller's solicitor after they receive:
  • Seller's formal instruction to their solicitor;
  • Seller's completed protocol forms; and
  • Estate Agent's Memorandum of Sale.
Once all of the above are received, the seller's solicitor sends the contract pack to the buyer's solicitor. Some solicitors who don't have the completed protocol forms back from their client will issue partial contracts to the buyer's solicitor and will forward on the protocol forms on once received.

How quickly are draft contracts issued by the seller's solicitor?

The speed at which draft contracts are issued are reliant upon the seller and the sooner the provide their complete protocol forms, the sooner the full contract pack can be issued. As a rule, this takes around 1 to 2 weeks, but can sometimes take much longer - which will slow down how quickly the transaction can get to Exchange of Contracts.

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, they cannot raise formal legal enquiries.

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What is included in the draft contract pack?

    Contract of sale
This is the legal contract that is used to formally bind the seller and buyer into the transfer of the legal 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.

Unlike many contracts, a property contract isn't binding until exchange of contracts so if you sign it, it doesn't mean you are legally bound to buy the property (although you can pull out after exchange and bear the costs).

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!

    Seller's Protocol Forms (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 2 property information forms that the seller is expected to complete for the buyer (3 if the property is leasehold):

  • 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. (Read more about the TA6 Property Information Form)

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 Fittings & Contents 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.(Read more about the TA10 Fittings & Contents Form)

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. Read about the TA7 Leasehold Information Form

    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.

    Title Plan
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.

    Official copy of the Register Title (Property 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 (if leasehold)
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.

You can read more about this pack here - Leasehold Information Pack

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)

Once the buyer's solicitor has the draft contracts, your mortgage offer and property searches from the local authority then they can raise legal enquiries and do their title check - Click to find out about - What are Legal Enquiries?

Don't forget to download your FREE Pre-Exchange Checklist

From organising your buildings insurance to signing off on the seller's protocol forms, our checklist has everything covered so you don't miss anything.

Reduce the chance of missing something by downloading your FREE Pre-Exchange Checklist - Created by Solicitors

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