In the United Kingdom, people can own real estate or land in two forms: freehold or leasehold.
In freehold, you own the property more or less under the same conditions as a French owner for example; 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 be 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.
Sell and buy in England
In England, the seller and buyer are committed to the contract relatively 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 bank’s property research and 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. Finalization usually takes place four weeks after the exchange, although both parties can manage to move faster.
Completion is the name given to 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.