The term exchange refers to exchanging contracts on either a sale or purchase. Exchange of contracts will only occur once the buyer has fully investigated the property and is happy to proceed with their purchase. The contract of sale is read out over the phone by the buyer and seller’s solicitors. The solicitors will ensure that both contracts are identical and agree to a completion date. Contracts are then swapped over (“exchanged”) in the post and the buyer’s deposit is paid to the seller’s solicitor to hold as security. Exchanging contracts legally binds both parties to buy or sell the property.
Exchanging contracts will occur down the whole length of the chain (i.e. between you and your buyer, your buyer and their buyer and so on) and every party in the chain will agree to the same completion date. Completion is usually set for 1-2 weeks’ time to allow both parties to make arrangements for removals and funds to be in place.
Completion is the physical moving date and when a party will move out of their property and into their new one. On completion day funds will be sent over to the seller’s solicitor and will pass up the chain to any subsequent onward purchase. Once funds have been received the solicitor will confirm that the keys can be released and they will be collected by the new owners, usually from the seller’s estate agent.
(Kirstie Philpott - 11/07/2018)
Listed properties are those entered onto the statutory list of properties with a ‘special architectural or historic interest’. The listing may refer to the interior and/or exterior of the building and any structure attached to it. The listing will include a detailed description of the property and the property on the ground should be a true reflection of the listing detailed.
Listed buildings cannot be altered in any way which does not match their listed description. Authorisation to alterations is granted by obtaining Listed Building Consent from the relevant local planning authority. Due to their protected nature, any unauthorised alteration could result in criminal liability to the owner of the property.
On the sale of a listed property, the buyer must make investigations to ensure that the listed property is still in keeping with the listing as the liability will run with the property regardless of who carried out the unauthorised alterations.
There is no limit on the length of time the owner of the property can be called upon for this liability, they may be obliged to reverse the alterations or prosecuted for them. It is therefore crucial that this is satisfactorily investigated at the time of purchase and if necessary confirmation obtained from the local planning authority to confirm that the property matches the listing.
(Kirstie Philpott - 11/07/18)
Estate agents commonly stipulate a 28 day exchange on their sales memorandum to all parties including the solicitors.
It is very rarely a true reflection of how quickly a sale can go through as this can depend on when the contract papers can be issued and you would need to make sure your solicitor has all your paperwork completed and returned to them as soon as possible to enable them to do this.
The buyer’s own position is crucial to how quickly they can move. If you require mortgage assistance you may need longer to complete your financial arrangements and complete the legal searches, survey and investigations. If there is also a related sale (i.e. a chain) then this can be even longer particularly if you do not know how long the chain is and if there is a flat in the mix.
Typically timeframes are more likely to be 7-8 weeks at the earliest for fairly standard freehold transaction and the national average is closer to 12 weeks. There are things you can do to speed things up and you should speak to your solicitor as to how you can help things move forward but managing your expectation will mean that you are less likely to be disappointed if the 28 days is not met.
(Kirstie Waite - 18/04/18)
... so does this mean we will not benefit from any first time buyer relief?
No, you will still benefit. First time buyers purchasing their first home for £300,000 or less will pay no SDLT. Where the purchase price is over £300,000 but does not exceed £500,000 they will pay 5% on the amount above £300,000. This means that you will only be required to pay stamp duty on £25,000.00 at the rate of 5%, which will be £1,250. Whereas without the first time buyers relief, the stamp duty due on a residential property valued at £325,000 is £6,250.
You can find further details, including a useful stamp duty land tax calculator, on the HMRC website: www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax/residential-property-rates (Hayley Merry - 24.01.18)
Mortgages with a guarantor are typically seen in circumstances such as this one, where there is a first time buyer and deposit may be small or non-existent.
It is absolutely vital that you obtain independent legal advice prior to acting as a guarantor and it is often that this will be a lender requirement. There are a number of extreme risks when acquiring this role and you should be aware of every possible eventuality. For example if a number of repayments to the Lender are missed and there is not suitable equity in the secured property, the guarantor’s property could be at risk of repossession as well. If you are able to, you should consider gifting or loaning your daughter money towards a deposit to avoid putting your family home on the line.
(Karen Chui - 22.11.17)
Generally speaking it takes 6-8 weeks from when your solicitor receives a contract pack from the seller's solicitors provided it's a straightforward freehold.
If there is a long chain or the property is leasehold such as a flat or there is a leasehold property in the chain then longer as the chain can only move as quickly as the slowest link even if you are ready others need to catch up. This can mean the timeframe is more like 12 weeks the Land Registry average has tended to record the longer period and it is only likely to be quick when the chain is short or no mortgages are involved.
Other factors that impact on this may be the property is a new build searches are taking a long time or you have complex arrangements to raise funds such as an associated remortgage. Best thing is to speak to your solicitor for a realistic expectation as often the run up to an offer being made and the first few weeks after does not count as legal work has not started yet.
(Karen Chui - 11.10.17)
Due to the complex legislation passed by the government regarding the 3% surcharge levied on additional properties purchased it was intended that all but the most straightforward scenarios would be caught. The exemption most relied upon is the one you mention however, both purchasers must qualify in order not to pay therefore if you are purchasing with your girlfriend and she already owns another property you will have to pay the additional 3% although in the event that she sells her own property if it is her principle residence in the next 3 years then you may be able to apply for a rebate.
(Karen Chui - 30.08.17)
Shared Ownership properties are meant to help people onto the housing ladder by keeping some of the housing stock at affordable prices and in the majority of cases the ownership is shared with a Housing Association.
If you contact your local Housing Association to be put on their list of existing shared ownership properties that are available now and in the future this way they will contact you when a suitable one becomes available. There may also be a new build development near you as proportion of the housing is likely to be earmarked for shared ownership and there is a greater choice of share you wish to purchase and of course you may prefer a brand new property to a second hand one.
It is possible to purchase relatively small shares such as 20% or 25% under a lease and the idea is that you own the property jointly with the Housing Association with the option to staircase/increase your percentage later when you have the funds. You would rent the other percentage that you do not own from the Housing Association and they will also be your Landlord dealing with maintenance and insurance responsibilities amongst other things.
When a property comes up you will need to provide details of your deposit available (this could be your savings or even gifts from family) your income your ability to obtain an independent mortgage from lenders who specialise in such properties. Affordability is a key issue because you will need to be able to keep up your own mortgage payments, pay rent on the other share, pay service charge (and ground rent for a flat) for routine maintenance and insurance as well as the normal utilities and council tax associated with owning a property.
Your first steps must be to work out your budget, how much deposit you have and whether you can obtain a mortgage by speaking to a mortgage broker once you know how much you can afford to borrow then you can start looking for the right property.
Shared Ownership properties are usually complicated and you will need to know that there will also be legal fees, valuations and other disbursements (payments to third parties) to factor in. Shared Ownership properties are also restrictive in terms of your ability to let to tenants/lodgers and a time consuming process to sell so you will need to research this in more detail before deciding if it is the right option for you.
(Karen Chui - 07.06.17)
You will need to check an up to date copy of your deeds. If your property is registered you may order this from the Land Registry at a fairly low cost you will need a copy of the Title Register, Title Plan and any Transfers or Conveyances and associated plans referred to in the Title Register (if unregistered you will need to check the originals and these may be held with your mortgage lender if you have a mortgage or if you do not by you or your solicitors). As a guide the cost is usually £3 per item.
Once you have these have a look at them and see if there is any references to ‘T’ markings and if so whether these are shown on any of the plans. Newer properties that are part of a larger scale development will tend to have these. It is also possible for the responsibility of a boundary to be stated in words only by reference to compass points which should give you sufficient information to identify. It may be that a boundary agreement has been entered into in which case this document will also need to be checked.
This area can be a minefield and often changes over time depending on a property owner’s conduct which may also need to be taken into consideration. It may be that the enforcement of the responsibility even once identified can be problematic due to current law so it usually means that the party who wants it the most ends up putting their hands in their pocket.
(Karen Chui - 24.04.2017)
...I own one other property, a small one bedroom flat which I bought 5 years ago on a buy to let mortgage as an investment, which I am not selling.
Stamp Duty Land Tax is calculated on a progressive basis. The first £125,000.00 has 0% tax the next part of the purchase price up to £250,000 is charged at 2% so the tax payable is 2% of £55,000.00 which is £1,100.00. As you will be purchasing an additional property to the one that you already own an additional property surcharge of 3% of the whole purchase price also applies which equates to £5,400.00 bringing the total payable to £6,500.00.
for the link to the HMRC Stamp Duty Land Tax Calculator together with guidance. (Karen Chui - 15.03.2017)
Before 1925 all land was unregistered which essentially means that your ownership is evidenced in the form of Deeds usually by way of a Conveyance which is kept by the individual owner or mortgage lenders. After 1925 a system of registration was created with the eventual aim that a central Land Registry will record all property making the information more accessible and to enable the process of buying selling and dealing with property quicker and easier. Today a lot of property is indeed registered with HM Land Registry, but not all. The system was introduced gradually and concentrated on dense and populated areas. Later it was rolled out more generally and it wasn’t until as recently as 1985 that it became compulsory to register across the country if there was a specific trigger (such as a sale, purchase or mortgage). Within the County of Hertfordshire this varied wildly from 1st January 1937 in Hertsmere to 1st February 1978 in East Hertfordshire and 1985 for places that have not been specifically given a date.
If you are thinking of selling a property then this issue is likely to come up. It is possible to voluntarily register your property even if you do not wish to sell and people have many reasons for doing this such as protection as their land may be at risk from squatters or there is a boundary dispute or you just don’t want the responsibility of keeping the originals in a fire proof and secure safe! You would benefit from a reduced Land Registry fee if you do so and of course when you do come to sell or mortgage the property then a registered property is likely to be dealt with more quickly than an unregistered one.
(Karen Chui - 01.02.2017)
A typical straightforward conveyance of a freehold property takes approximately 6-7 weeks from receipt/sending of contact papers (longer where there is a long chain of properties being bought or sold and certainly for leasehold properties as the process is more complex and more people to organise).
Between Christmas and New Year there are a number of public holidays and office closures for organisations who play a part in the transaction (sometimes firms and businesses are closed on days that are not public holidays and it would depend entirely on their policy) and so the festive period would add a couple of weeks to the normal timeframe anyway. As Christmas is a popular time for people to move the pressure is up for everyone to try to get in before Christmas and a sense of frantic urgency builds up. As you would expect the sheer volume of demand can mean that people can’t get through as easily on the phone and that it also mean that it takes longer to deal with the work itself and regrettably some delay will transpire.
The psychology of the festive period understandably means that people also have other commitments to organise whether it is work or school holidays and removals so adds to mix and most would simply want to know whether it is realistically possible or not so they can decide whether to pack up the Christmas Tree or not.
Unfortunately, something that started at the end of November probably won’t make it to completion before Christmas as there is just insufficient time to carry out all the work necessary. Nor would I think that it is desirable to rush such an important purchase such as a house to accommodate a seasonal occurrence as acting hastily can result in things being missed or not thought through properly.
(Karen Chui - 14.12.16)
They should be sending you the document together with instructions. When received you will need to take the original document(s) together with a valid form of photo ID to an independent solicitor (not involved in your property transaction, so not acting for the other side either) who will charge a fee of £5 for administering the ‘swear’ and an additional cost of £2 for every exhibit. It will normally take around 10 minutes although you should try to call ahead if possible otherwise you may need to wait or come back when someone becomes available. Once the documents have been correctly signed you will need to take them away and return to your own solicitor.
A flat is usually leasehold which grants you ownership of the property for a period of time, typically 99, 125 or 999 years at the start (you are known as the leaseholder) but you should check the lease itself to make sure you know exactly how long it is for and how much time is left to run as it will affect the value.
The landlord will normally own the freehold of the block of flats (also known as a freeholder) whereby when the lease ends the property will technically revert back to the freeholder if it is not extended. It is possible for a leaseholder to also be the landlord in a number of different ways commonly the freehold may be owned by a management company whose shareholders are the other leaseholders in the block and through the management company you are effectively your own landlords and have greater control over the maintenance and management of the block as a whole than if the freehold was owned by a third party.
If there is only a small number of flats (4 or less) it is also possible to actually own a share of the freehold with the other leaseholders without necessarily going through a formal management company which tends to be a more informal way and not necessarily the most convenient. The actual arrangements will become clear once the purchase gets underway and your solicitor receives a full contract pack from the seller’s solicitors.
Firstly your parents will need to decide if the money they put towards the property is a gift to you or part ownership of the property and they would like to be joint owners with you; it could be that they want to do a bit of both. It would then be appropriate to engage an independent financial adviser who would be able to source a suitable product from the wider market. You should therefore ensure that the mortgage company are informed as to exactly what your intentions are and that they agree to the proposals, as you may find your options for lenders limited and they will have additional requirements.
If your parents cannot be a party to the mortgage and the mortgage can only be issued in your name then unfortunately your parents won’t be able to be a joint legal owner of the property. You should all consider entering into a Trust Deed as to the respective contributions and what should happen in the event of a sale for your protection. Your parents would also be required as part of the process to postpone any rights they may have over the property behind the rights of the lender i.e. in the event of a repossession and you default on a mortgage payment.
Strictly speaking there may be a conflict of interest between you and your parents and you should each consider seeking individual legal advice as to the impact of proceeding with such a purchase. Generally it is more straightforward if your parents gift you the deposit however, we also suggest that you take tax advice from an accountant as to implications this may have before taking any action as it would save money in the long run.
TPO stands for a Tree Preservation Order. If there is a tree within the boundaries of your property that is subject to such an Order this means that if you need to carry out any works to the tree whether cutting it back for safety reasons or removing it altogether, you must obtaining permission from the Local Authority to do so and it is usual for a tree surgeon to be engaged to assess and decide. Whether your property is affected you will need to enquire with the Local Authority and if so a copy of the TPO.
If you remove a protected tree without permission then there are severe penalties and it is even possible for you to be responsible for the costs of reinstating a full grown tree in place of one that is removed which can be very costly indeed. If your property is in a Conservation Area then trees within a Conservation Area will receive similar protection akin to a Tree Preservation Order so you should always check if you are unsure.
(Karen Chui - 10.08.16)
Yes, you will need to apply to the Local Authority and/or Highways Agency for permission to install a dropped kerb this will then allow you lawful vehicular access from the public highway over a pavement onto your property. The work itself may be fairly costly as it will need to comply with the Highways Agency’s strict requirements. There may be circumstances why permission may not be granted such as the property is too close to a junction and doesn’t have appropriate sight lines but you should always check before carrying out any work as it would mean that you would be unable to use the front garden legally for parking if you don’t have a dropped kerb.
(Karen Chui - 10.08.16)
Planning Permission –
This is Local Authority approval for works and depending on the size and nature of the works it may be that you have general authority to build by virtue of permitted development rights – however occasionally these may be withdrawn for certain properties and areas and if you have any doubt you should contact your Local Authority to find out whether you need to submit an application to obtain specific authority for the works you are planning. Building Regulations Consent –
once the works have been physically completed the works will need to be inspected and signed off that they were done in accordance with the current building regulations requirements and you should receive a final certificate if all the works are satisfactory, there is likely to be a fee for this and you should contact your Local Authority to find out their procedure.
The following link takes you to the planning portal which is a good source of information as to the legal requirements for both planning and building control https://www.planningportal.co.uk/info/200125/do_you_need_permission/90/interactive_house Covenant Consent -
There may be covenants ‘dos and don’ts’ contained in your title deeds that prevent you from building or making alterations to the property or does not allow you to do so without consent and this is specific and dependent upon the wording contained in your deeds. If you are unsure as to whether the works you wish to undertake are covered you should take legal advice as the implications of carrying out the works can be significant and you may ultimately be prevented from doing so or to demolish the works that you have done so it will be best to check before you incur any expenses.
(Karen Chui - 29.06.16)
If the house that you are selling is your main residence and the house that you are buying will become your main residence and you complete the sale and purchase on the same day the additional 3% duty will not be payable.
(Michael Stark - 18.05.16)
We will always recommend that you have the following searches:
Local Authority – Providing information that the local authority has about the property including but not limited to new road proposals, Notices served by the Council and planning information.
Drainage and Water – Providing information including the run of the sewers and water pipes, water quality and any problems with access to the drains.
Enviro – Providing information including contaminated land, flooding and radon gas.
Plan Search- providing information about the local area including development proposals for the neighbourhood and adjoining property.
(Michael Stark - 18.05.16)
The average timescale for the process is around six or seven weeks from draft Contract paperwork being drafted by the seller’s Solicitor and submitted to the buyer’s Solicitor. There are a number of variables that may result in a deviation from that usual timescale, such as the responsiveness of the parties involved and the complexity of the property itself. Often a transaction will complete sooner than that average timescale, although if unusual and unforeseen issues arise this could always cause a delay.
Normally a valid Contract in the United Kingdom can be formed by an offer from one party and an acceptance of that offer from a second party. This offer and acceptance merge to form an Agreement.
However, this position changes in a transaction for the sale and purchase of land; a Contract will only become binding following exchange of Contracts. This will only take place when both a buyer and seller are ready to commit themselves to the transaction, for example following a survey of the property and a Solicitor’s investigation of the Title. As a buyer you will pay a ten percent deposit to the seller on exchange of Contracts that is due to your seller if you subsequently fail to complete.
As such, you are free to withdraw from the transaction without any liability to your seller at any time up to exchange of Contracts. If you withdraw after exchange of Contracts, you may lost your deposit.
Yes, it is recommended that you do obtain your own Homebuyer’s Survey even if your lender is having a valuation. The lender’s valuation is purely done to assess whether the property complies with their lender criteria often it is no more than a very basic and cursory checklist (you will see for yourself when you get a copy!) it has been known for valuers to do desk top/drive by valuations and not even visit the property so you have no way of knowing the quality of their inspection (if any). Your own surveyor will owe you a duty of care, they will attend the property and they will produce a Survey that will be detailed with advice on any work that you would need to do or any issues that would need to be taken up with the seller. It has been known for a Homebuyers Survey to reveal serious issues with the property which can lead to buyers not proceeding with the purchase or re-negotiating on the price. You may wish to go through your lender and request that their valuer prepare the Homebuyers Survey at a reduced cost to save you money, if the same person does the valuation and homebuyer’s report this will avoid duplication, but you should shop around for prices.
(KC - 13.01.16)
The first port of call would be to look at your title Deeds there may be references to T markings or description of a boundary such as western/northern etc. which will state if you are responsible for it. You may also wish to examine the fence physically although there is no rule of law to this effect, the usual practice is for the supporting posts or fences, and the foundations for walls to be placed on the property to whom the fence or wall belongs. Responsibility for upkeep rests with the owner of a boundary, but you should note that (owing to an out-dated legal technicality) it is extremely difficult to enforce such responsibility, especially if the person who originally undertook it can no longer be traced even if there is a chain of covenants. The result is very often that the party who most desires a boundary to be repaired may find that he has to arrange for it to be done, regardless of who actually owns it. The most practical approach would be to discuss it with your immediate neighbour as it may end up being something that, if not agreed to be one or the other’s responsibility can be shared to reach a compromise as very often people do want to have a say about replacement fences to ensure that it fits in with existing fences or is aesthetically pleasing or provides a suitable level of privacy.
(KC - 13.01.16)
This is called an Assignment and you will be buying, and having assigned to you, the contract that the Seller has already entered into with the developer to buy the new property. It is likely a property of this type in that location has increased in price since the Seller agreed to buy it. You will pay the Seller a premium to reflect that increase and also pay to him the deposit that he will have paid to the developer. This is paid on completion of the Assignment.
When the property is finished next year you will pay to the developer the contract price less the deposit, as you will have become the Buyer of the property in place of the Seller.
(KC - 13.01.16)
You must advise your Lender and your solicitor of the amount that your parents are contributing. The solicitor will need to confirm with the Lender that this arrangement is acceptable to them. Lenders will usually be happy with this so long as the money is a gift and not a loan.
1. You will not require any Buildings Insurance as this is arranged for the whole Block by the Management Company or freeholder and a proportion of this will be charged to you usually as part of the service charge that you pay.
2. You will need to take out insurance for your contents
3. If you are having a mortgage you may wish to take out life insurance to repay the loan in the event of your death.
The law does not specifically require a purchaser to have a survey on the property that they are buying. There is a Latin maxim that applies in Land Law though, called ‘Caveat Emptor’. This translates to ‘let the buyer beware’, meaning that it is up to the purchaser to satisfy themselves with the state of the property before they enter a binding Contract with the seller. Although certain questions can be asked of the seller regarding the property, they are under no obligation to provide a warranty for anything that can be discovered by the purchaser’s own inspection. For this reason, we always advise that a survey should be carried out, and we are able to recommend the most appropriate Surveyors if necessary.
Some sales and purchases involve separate properties in a chain of developing transactions. The length of the chain may vary but the object of all those involved is to make sure that all Contracts in the chain are exchanged at the same time, with the same completion date, so that all parties can move on the same day. The money paid by the first buyer in the chain is passed along the chain to provide the money for all the subsequent transactions, supplemented by Mortgages or other finance on the way. As a result every person in the chain has to be ready to exchange contracts, before contracts can be exchanged by any one.
There is a complicated formula for calculating the amount of premium that has to be paid to a freeholder or landlord for a Lease extension. You need to employ a specialist surveyor to work this out for your particular property. As a general rule the shorter the remaining years on the Lease the more you have to pay. A term of 80 years remaining is an important date in determining the premium, as if there are 80 years or less remaining the amount of the premium increases substantially. Therefore it is sensible to apply for an extension whilst there are still more than 80 years remaining. Nockolds can advise you and recommend specialist surveyors to help.
Purchase contracts always provide for a 10% deposit to be paid by a Buyer on exchange of contracts. However when you are both buying and selling it is usual to use the deposit that your own buyer is paying to fund the deposit on your own purchase. If you are buying for more than you are selling for, that buyer’s deposit may be less than 10% of your purchase price but is usually accepted by your Seller. In cases where there is a large differential in prices you may be asked to top this up to 10% of your purchase price but this is not usual. Nockolds will give you advice on the deposit as the transaction progresses.
Possibly for change of use but you will probably need a building regulation consent. You may also need the consent of the developer if the deeds contain a covenant needing the developers consent for the works which is quite normal. The Planning consent for the development may contain a condition that the garage must be retained for garaging and not converted to residential use in which case you would need to apply for planning consent and relaxation of the existing condition.
Generally when a Lease has less than 80 years left to run a buyer will not go ahead without the Lease being extended. There is a premium payable to the Landlord for this and the amount payable varies depending upon certain factors but the shorter the term of the Lease that is left the more it is likely to cost.
Yes. This is known as a ‘transfer of equity’. We can do it in a number of ways, either legally (for all the world to see) or via a trust arrangement which remains private between the two of you. This type of transfer can be very useful for mitigating tax liabilities arising from the income of a rental property.
In this instance you will be buying a property ‘off-plan’ because it is not physically finished yet. The process for a Solicitor is identical, but it might feel very different for you. For a start there will not be a property to view, although of course there will be a sales office show property to give you an idea. Contracts are exchanged in the normal way, but completion happens ‘on notice’ in that the developer will tell us when the property is finally built, and will request from us the completion balance within ten working days. With any purchase off-plan you must be aware that your Mortgage offer will possibly expire before the property is finished, and if you cannot arrange for a new offer, or extend your current offer, you will have to complete anyway. If you cannot complete, you will lose your deposit.
You should discuss with your surveyor the cost to rectify the issues their report has highlighted. Then arrange for formal quotes, and approach the estate agents to discuss reducing the asking price to reflect the cost of that additional work.
Remember, you made an offer based on the property as you understood it at the time of the offer, when you were unaware of the issues, so it is perfectly reasonable to ask for a price reduction. Get the agents on your side, and they will help persuade the seller to accept a reduced offer, especially if there is an element of compromise involved.
Don’t forget that the seller will have the same issues with any buyer who has a survey done, so the seller is better off tackling it with you now rather than putting it off.
There is no set period of time and this is something that the Seller and Buyer both need to agree on. Where the Buyer is having a Mortgage the lender will usually require at least 5 working days to release the advance so a period of around one week is often agreed.
The house should have the benefit of an NHBC Certificate or similar warranty which covers major constructional faults that develop within 8 or 10 years of the completion of its construction. However it will not cover minor defects and there are restrictions on the amounts recoverable and matters covered under these warranty schemes. We always recommend that buyers should obtain their own survey as there is no liability on the Seller for defects that are discovered after completion. If you are buying with a Mortgage the Lender will carry out a valuation but this is not a survey and cannot be relied upon by a buyer.
Most Lenders will only grant a Buy to Let mortgage to someone who is already a homeowner so I think you will find it difficult to go ahead with your proposal. However I suggest you speak to a mortgage broker and see if they know of any lenders willing to help you. Stamp Duty Land Tax starts at £125,000 so there is no Tax to pay on a purchase below this price but the rate is 2% from £125,000 to £250,000 and 5% from £250,000 to £925,000.
This is simply personal choice. My advice would be to market your property and try to find a buyer first; after all you do not know how long this might take. You are probably better off finding a buyer early and explaining to them that you are still looking yourself, as opposed to finding somewhere to buy but not being able to go ahead because you cannot find a buyer yourself.