Raising additional enquiries during the purchase of a property is a very important part of the conveyancing process and great care should be taken by your conveyancer to ensure all matters are investigated properly before you commit to buying a property.
There are a number of stages during the purchase conveyancing process and raising additional enquiries is one of them. The seller’s conveyancer is responsible for providing the buyer’s solicitor with property information forms, draft contracts, a HIPs pack and a managing agent’s pack (if the property is leasehold). A substantial amount of information is contained within these documents and the buyer’s conveyancer must scrutinise them very carefully.
The seller’s property information forms will deal with issues such as those relating to boundaries, works that have been undertaken at the property and notices that have been served affecting the property, amongst other things. If, for example, the property has had a loft conversion, your conveyancer must ensure that all the relevant local authority consents were obtained by the seller. If the consents are not supplied in the HIPs pack, this must be raised in the form of additional enquiries and once the documents are received they should be inspected by the buyer’s conveyancer to ensure they are adequate.
The Managing Agents Pack may contain information that needs to be further investigated and additional enquiries may need to be raised, e.g. whether the reserve fund will be used for major works to the property or where there has been an unusual increase in service charges for the year.
The official copies of Title may refer to Transfers or Conveyances that have not been supplied and these must be requested.
Conveyancers often use standard additional enquiries that will cover matters such as whether the property has a burglar alarm and when the boiler was last serviced. It is good practice to send a list of additional enquiries to the seller’s conveyancer but you should ensure the enquiries are specific to the property, are not covered in the documentation already provided by the seller’s conveyancer and are not matters that are capable of being ascertained by the buyer through personal inspection or through his surveyor.
Raising and resolving additional enquiries is therefore a very important part of the purchase conveyancing procedure and should be done before contracts are exchanged. If the buyer is not happy with replies to enquiries raised pre-exchange they can withdraw from the transaction. However, once contracts are exchanged, if the buyer wishes to pull out they will lose their deposit and may be sued for breach of contract.