Before signing the transfer documents, it’s imperative to check that the property hasn’t fallen down or been damaged or altered in any way, e.g. by a storm or the vendor. If you’ve employed a lawyer or are buying through an agent, he should accompany you on a final inspection visit.
You should also take an inventory immediately before the transfer of ownership (the vendor should already have vacated the property) to ensure that the vendor hasn’t absconded with anything that was included in the price or purchased separately, e.g. carpets, light fittings, curtains or kitchen appliances, and that any appliances you’ve bought are in good working order where applicable. You should also check that expensive or valuable items (such as kitchen apparatus or antique fittings) haven’t been substituted by inferior (possibly secondhand) items. Any garden ornaments, plants and shrubs present in a garden when you viewed it should still be there when you take possession, unless otherwise stated in the contract.
Some vendors will go to amazing extremes, for example removing not just light bulbs, but bulb-holders, wiring (flex) and even ceiling roses as well as bulbs, plants, shrubs and trees from the garden!
If you find that anything is missing, damaged or isn’t in working order, you should make a note and insist on immediate restitution such as an appropriate reduction in the amount to be paid.
Although you or your lawyer should already have checked that there are no encumbrances, e.g. mortgages or loans, against a property or outstanding debts, it’s important for you or your lawyer to go to the land registry and check ALL entries up to the day of the completion (this could be done a few days earlier and then you need only examine entries since the last check on the day of the transfer of ownership).
You should refuse to go through with a purchase if you aren’t completely satisfied, as it will be very difficult or impossible to obtain redress later.