Commercial Conveyancing in a Nutshell – Birds on the Blog

Commercial Conveyancing in a Nutshell

Buying and selling property can be complicated enough when you’re simply moving house, but for businesses looking to move it can be even more of a minefield.

Whether you’re buying a new business premises or selling up in order to expand or downsize, getting your head around the complex process of commercial conveyancing can feel like a daunting task.

Advice and guidance on buying and selling business premises can be hard to come by.  Here we’re going to take a closer look at the process of buying and selling commercial property, giving you all the advice, information and tips, you might need to make the process run as smoothly as possible.

Selling Up

If you’re thinking about selling your commercial property, where do you begin?  Businesses sell up for all sorts of reasons, from winding down a company to team expansion.  Whether you own an office, a shop, a warehouse or a café, getting good advice early on is crucial if you want to get your property properly marketed and sold.

Because the costs are almost always higher than when buying a residential property, buyers tend to be a lot more cautious when it comes to parting with their cash.  Finding a buyer is the easy part.  Once they’ve put in an offer and you have accepted, then the hard work begins.  Firstly, their solicitor will want to fully investigate the legal title of your property and draw up a Contract for Sale, using solicitors like The Law House will make this easier.

You will then have to complete the requisite Commercial Property Standard Enquiries (CPSE) forms, which dig deeper into all aspects of your property so the buyer knows exactly what they’re getting.  Although you’re not obliged to offer up replies to the buyer’s questions, not disclosing vital information about a property’s defects could have serious legal implications further down the line, so the best course of action is to give as much information as you can.  Accurate, in-depth replies will not only ensure you’re better covered against litigation, but it will also significantly speed up the conveyancing process.

You’ll probably be asked to provide a record of the building’s history, information on rights of way and access and other relevant information about fixtures and fittings or energy performance.  There can sometimes be a bit of back and forth at this stage, with your buyer’s solicitor raising new questions before they’re happy for contracts to be exchanged.  Once that has happened it’s a done deal – an exchange of contracts means neither party can back out, and the buyer will pay their deposit.

After the Transfer Deed has been approved you can arrange a completion date and then it’s just a matter of getting all packed up and sitting back until the big day.  Remember, your buyer is entitled to vacant possession of the premises on the day of completion, so make sure you’re out the door well in advance to save yourself the unnecessary last-minute scramble to be ready!

Buying Commercial Premises

The first piece of advice is simple: make sure you’ve found a building you’re happy with at a price which seems reasonable.  Once you’ve made your offer and had it accepted, it’s time to instruct your solicitor to carry out an investigation into the deeds of the property and to conduct all the necessary pre-contract searches, solicitors like The Law House will make this process smoother.

You’ll want to know as much as possible about the building you are buying, from its leasehold status to whether there might be a problem with asbestos.  Never be shy to ask as many questions as pop into your head in the middle of the night, because knowledge really is power when it comes to buying commercial property.

Once you’ve scrutinised the CPSE forms and are happy with the answers the seller has given you, you can sign the contract, fill in your Stamp Duty form and, if applicable, arrange your mortgage deed.  As soon as it’s all signed and sealed, you can pay your deposit and the deal has become legally binding.

Your solicitor will now be able to prepare the Transfer Deed ready for the seller’s solicitor to approve it.  Deal done, you can get together the rest of the money to transfer, arrange to pay the Stamp Duty and, if necessary, register the purchase with the Land Registry.

Remember, when you’re trying to arrange a mutually convenient completion date, always be realistic!  It can be all too tempting to name a date as soon as possible, but you have to give the seller time to clear out their possessions and get the property ship-shape ahead of you moving in.  You have a legal right to vacant possession, but that means giving the seller a reasonable amount of time to get things in order.

General Property Advice

When most of us buy homes, we do so with heart ruling head, but when it comes to buying commercial property it should always be the other way around.  This is, after all, a business decision, so you need to weigh up your options carefully.

Look at what you can afford and where, and carefully consider the longer-term needs of your business.  Whether you’re looking to buy an office, retail space or a restaurant, think about where you would like to be and are likely to be in five, ten, fifteen years from now.

Remember, when you’re buying or selling, no question is a silly question when it comes to such large amounts of money and something as vital to your business as your premises.  The more facts and knowledge you have to hand the better, even if it means dragging the process out as your solicitor goes back and forth with your enquiries.

This is one of the biggest decisions you are likely to make as a business, but with this handy guide we’re sure you’ll make a move you’re happy with.

A collaborative article between The Law House,  Lizzie Exton who writes for Inspiring Interns and Birds on the Blog

 

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