In freehold, you hold the property more or less under the same conditions as a French owner; the individual houses 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 term (which can be up to 99 years). Note, however, that the shorter the leasehold period, the lower the value of your property. The duration of the leasehold can be extended to 90 years. The deeds of sale are usually drawn up by solicitors and each solicitor represents his client.
In England, the seller and buyer are engaged in the contract rather late compared to the French system, the parties can withdraw from the sale at any time before the exchange of contracts without incurring financial compensation. The seller can even accept a more interesting 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 make a more detailed appraisal of the property. There are three types: Valuation, Homebuyer’s report, and Structural survey. The solicitor always advises the buyer that the exchange takes place after conducting research on the property and the loan offer of the bank.
The contract with the signature of the buyer is sent to the solicitor of the seller, and a copy with the signature of the seller is sent to the solicitor of the buyer. Finalization usually takes place four weeks after the exchange, although both parties can arrange to go faster.
Completion is the name given for the last act of the purchase of a property, when the price is paid and the title deeds are exchanged.
The sale must be registered at the HM Land Registry. Registration thus has the legal effect of guaranteeing the existence of the right of ownership.