People can own real estate in England in two forms: freehold or leasehold.
In freehold, you own the property more or less under the same conditions as a French owner, single-family homes are most often sold in the form of freehold.
In leasehold, you buy “the walls of the apartment” but rent the land for a fixed period (which can go up to 99 years). Note, however, that the shorter the remaining period on the leasehold, the lower the value of your property will be. The duration of the leasehold can be extended to 90 years. Deeds of sale are generally drawn up by lawyers (solicitors) and each solicitor represents his client.
In England, the seller and buyer are committed to the contract quite late compared to the French system, the parties can withdraw from the sale at any time before the exchange of the contracts without incurring financial compensation. The seller can even accept a more attractive offer.
A chartered surveyor can make an estimate and expertise of the property that a buyer intends to acquire. An estimate made by a surveyor is normally required by the lender, but it is recommended that the buyer carry out a more detailed appraisal of the property. There are three types of them: Valuation (estimation), Homebuyer’s report (expert report at the request of the buyer), Structural survey (physical expertise of the building). The solicitor always advises the buyer that the exchange should take place after the completion of the property research and the bank’s loan offer.
The contract with the signature of the buyer is sent to the seller’s solicitor, and a copy with the seller’s signature is sent to the buyer’s solicitor.
Completion is the name given for the last act of buying a property, when the price is paid and the title deeds are exchanged.
The sale must be registered with the HM Land Registry. The legal effect of registration is thus to guarantee the existence of the right of ownership.
This article is not a substitute for legal advice in a particular situation.