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Common Questions About Conveyancing

How Long will Conveyancing Take?

How long is a piece of string? Just kidding!

Depending on the jurisdiction Conveyancing can take from 7-9 weeks when things run ‘smoothly’ but it is not uncommon for some transactions to exceed this timeline (some by quite an extent).

Unfortunately, your Solicitor will not be able to 100% guarantee you a move-in date until they have been able to check the Title Deeds and appropriate searches, and this may take several weeks from when you agree the sale/purchase of a property.

Another factor to consider is whether or not the Conveyancing of your property is part of a 'chain'. Sometimes these chains can hold things up on your Conveyancing transaction with no fault lying with your Solicitor!

When should I instruct a solicitor?

If you are selling a property, you should speak to aSolicitor before you put your house on the market while also ensuring you know the location of the Title Deeds. You can also wait and instruct a Solicitor once you have accepted an offer on the property you are selling.

If you are buying, it may be most prudent to instruct a Solicitor before you make an offer, but it is unlikely to make a significant difference if you wait until you have an offer accepted.

How much will Conveyancing cost?

When you are selling or buying a house you need to remember to plan for estate agent fees and legal costs in your budget.Legal costs are broken down into two categories – Fees and Disbursements/Outlays.

The Fee is the amount you will pay to the Solicitor for carrying out the work related to your Conveyancing transaction. This fee will vary from Solicitor to Solicitor and can often be affected by the house price, the complexity of the Conveyancing and the Solicitors number of year's experience.

The Disbursements/Outlays are payments made by the Solicitor on your behalf. The Solicitor will recoup these payments from you at the end of the Conveyancing transaction. The disbursements typically include Land Registry Fees, Searches and banking charges. The Disbursements/Outlays should not be significantly different depending on the Solicitor that you instruct.If you want to find out some exact prices, you should use CompareLegal's Quote Generator to get up to 4 Free Quotes from Expert Conveyancers!

What is a chain?

When you are buying a house it is very likely that the vendor themselves will also be buying a new house and so on and so forth. It is easy to see how elongated and complex these chains can quickly become making it more difficult to get a firm move-in date for your property!

A number of linked transactions can build up, each dependent on the other and exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously in all transactions. Unfortunately this means that the Conveyancing transactions usually progress at the speed of the slowest transaction leading to unhappy homebuyers and stressed Solicitors!

When is the property officially mine?

Once signed contracts are exchanged, a legally enforceable agreement is created for the transfer of the property which means that neither party can back out. Up until contracts are signed and exchanged either party can withdraw from the Conveyancing process. You can only move into the property on the day of completion when all money has changed hands.

How do I find out if there are building or development plans nearby?

Enquiries can be made with your local Council and their planning office to check whether any planning permission has been granted. Your conveyancing solicitor can point you in the right direction to help you undertake this if this is something you wish to investigate.

Do I need to have a survey?

If you are taking out a mortgage your lender will require a valuation, but this is not a survey and is for the lender’s benefit, not yours.Every Solicitor will highly recommend that you carry out your own independent survey of the property you are planning to purchase. This will be more detailed that the valuation carried out by your mortgage provider and may reveal issues with the property that may otherwise go unnoticed.

Your Solicitor is likely to have a trusted firm of Surveyors which they use on a regular basis and will be happy to pass on their information.

Why have I been asked to provide proof of identification?

Solicitors, like most organisations which regularly handle large amounts of client money, are regulated by the Money Laundering Regulations. That means that all solicitors are required by law to check the identity of their clients to protect themselves against mortgage fraud or money laundering.

Because house purchases involve hundreds of thousands of pounds, conveyancers are particularly at risk. Part of the obligation, and the reason why requests for ID are standard conveyancing questions, is to verify that a client is who they say they are. This will mean examining photographic ID and evidence of your residence at the correspondence address provided. A conveyancer will also ask for proof as to how you have acquired the money being used to purchase the property.

Is there anything I need to do once I’ve instructed a Solicitor?

The vast majority of the work will be done by your Conveyancing Solicitor but there will be some things you will be required to do. Obviously at some point you will be required to sign the contract but depending on the jurisdiction your Conveyancing Solicitor may also require you to fill out some forms regarding the property.

It is always a good idea to ask your Solicitor at the start of the Conveyancing transaction what exactly will be expected of you, along with a rough timeline of when you will be needed. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to let your Solicitor know of any planned trips you have coming up!

What is Stamp Duty and how much do I have to pay?

Stamp Duty is the tax applied by HMRC on the purchase of a property. The rate of tax payable depends on whether or not you are a first-time buyer, the purchase price of the property and if the property will be a second home/buy-to-let etc.

If you want to find out exactly how much you will owe, please use the following link from HMRC https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/calculate-stamp-duty-land-tax/#/intro

Things to know before you buy

Before you buy a property there are several important issues you’re going to want to consider.

Freehold vs Leasehold

Freehold - If you own a Freehold Property you have outright ownership of the property and the land on which it stands, with no time limit to the period of ownership. In some freehold developments the properties will share ownership of common areas and a management company is usually appointed to maintain the area. This can result in an annual charge from the Management Company and so it’s important to ask your Solicitor if this will be the case.

Leasehold – Is a method of owning a property for a fixed term, but not the land on which it stands. A document called the Lease grants the owner the right to use the property exclusively for a specified period of time (Lease lengths vary, but the most common terms are 99, 125 and 999 years). Many leasehold properties will charge an annual ‘rent’ to the ‘lessor’. The amount can vary greatly though sometimes it won’t be collected at all. It is very important to ask your Conveyancing Solicitor about any potential ‘rents’ due as the result of purchasing a leasehold property.

My parents are gifting money towards the deposit, do I need to tell my Solicitor?

The short answer is yes!It is very important you tell your Conveyancing Solicitor this information right at the start of the Conveyancing process. Solicitors have a duty to verify your parents’ identity and see evidence of their proof of funds. This also applies to any other third party such as a partner or other family member who may be assisting you financially.

If you are obtaining a mortgage to purchase the property solicitors are also under an obligation to disclose any gift to the mortgage lender and ask the person(s) providing the gift to sign a gift declaration confirming that the money they are providing is purely a gift and is not repayable and they do not have any interest in the property.

What do I do about insurance?

It is critically important that you have an active insurance policy for the property you are purchasing from the time you exchange contracts.

Many mortgage providers will require an insurance policy to be in place before they release the funds for the purchase.

Can the same solicitor act both for me and for my buyer/seller?

Generally, the answer is no due to there being the potential for a conflict of interest to arise.There are a limited number of exceptions to this rule e.g. selling to/buying from an immediate family member.

Joint Tenants vs Tenants in Common

If you are buying a property with another person e.g. your partner, you will need to decide if you want to hold the property as 'Joint Tenants' or 'Tenants in Common'.

Joint Tenants – When holding property as Joint Tenants the parties involved will own the property in equal shares and when one party dies their share will automatically pass to the surviving party. This is the most common arrangement for married couples & civil partners.

Tenants in Common – Holding the property as Tenants in Common will allow the new owners to divide the ownership of the property as they see fit (for example Party A owns 70% and Party B owns 30%) and will also allow the owners to stipulate what will happen to their share upon their death. This means that if you own a property Tenant in Common, you can leave your share to your children/wife/a charity etc.

When should I book my removal van?

As the completion date (moving day) is not guaranteed until contracts have been exchanged, we would recommend that you do not book your removals until this has taken place. If your situation might be different, for example with exchange and completion taking place on the same day, speak to us and we’ll advise you on the best course of action.