When you decide to move, you are probably focussed on the benefits you will enjoy from your new property, or the relief of finding a solution to some of the issues associated with the old one. It could be issues such as too much or too little space, proximity of location to work, maintenance, etc. Whatever the issue, the new property will usually solve it.
However, whilst most people are happy to make a buying decision based around these solutions, your solicitor is employed to ensure that the transaction actually happens, and that you are protected both as a buyer and seller.
For example, whilst many buyers are familiar with the concept of undertaking a local authority search which discloses whether any planning applications have been made that might affect the property, fewer are aware of certain other aspects such as restrictive covenants which may have been lodged years ago by the original builder or subsequent seller. This could range from a prohibition on building an extension, to the payment of a right of use charge which might have accumulated unpaid over hundreds of years!
Don’t be surprised if your buyer’s solicitor asks if you are aware of any rights to extract fish, harvest hay, drive cattle or mine minerals at your property, or if anyone has ever claimed a right of way. They are just doing their job of protecting the buyer from every eventuality.
In some instances, you may be asked to cover an insurance premium against eventualities such as the local parish’s right to a contribution towards the upkeep of the parish church (usually discovered by a Chancel Search). The premium can run to several hundred pounds, but you are not, as a seller, obliged to pay, and you could ask the buyer to either pay the premium or carry a calculated risk themselves.
Usually such queries are pure formalities and are unlikely to be pivotal to the success of your transaction, but it’s worth knowing when the time comes.
Neil Newstead, FARLA MNAEA
CEO – Oakfield Estate Agents