Legal Terms

What is conveyancing?

This is the legal process of transferring the ownership of property from one party to another and all the legal work carried out to make the sale or purchase legally valid.

What is the difference between Joint Tenants and Tenants in Common?

As joint tenants there is no distinct share in the property and if one party were to die their share would pass to the survivor.

If you were to own a property as tenants in common you could specify what share each person owns (for example 50% each) and you leave that share in your Will or it passes under intestacy rules.

What is the difference between exchange and completion?

Exchange of contracts binds all the parties to buy/sell the property on the day of completion. Following exchange of contracts no-one can pull out of the transaction and the completion date is fixed.

Completion is when the money is paid for the property and the ownership of the property changes. On the day of completion the buyer will get the keys to the property and be able to move in.

I have found a house to buy, what’s next?

Can the same solicitor act both for me and for the seller?

Although there are limited exceptions, generally the same firm of solicitors cannot act for both parties in a transaction because of a potential conflict of interest.

 

How soon do I need to pay any money? 

We ask you to provide £350 on account of costs before we start work on your matter. This will pay for the searches required to buy your property. You may be asked to pay a deposit when we exchange contracts if you do not have a related sale. The balance of the asking price and our costs and any additional charges such as Stamp Duty will be payable shortly before completion.

 

How long will it take to exchange and complete ?

It is impossible to give an exact timetable as this will depend on many different factors such as how long it takes for your mortgage offer to be issued, whether there are any issues with the title to the property, and the length of your chain (as everyone in the chain has to exchange on the same day and complete on the same day). However, it usually takes around 8 weeks from when you instruct us. If you need different timescales then let us know and we’ll always do our best to help you.

 

Should I have a survey?

We recommend that you have a survey (as well as the mortgage valuation). The mortgage valuation confirms for the mortgage company that the property is worth what you are paying for it, but will not necessarily find any defects or problems with the property. A Homebuyers’ Report or Structural Survey will go into greater detail. Ask us if you need more information.

 

I am buying a leasehold property – what does this mean?

A leasehold property is a property which is subject to a lease. A lease is an agreement to use a property for a period of time without owning it, for example for 99 years. Flats are usually leasehold and shared ownership properties will also be leasehold. The lease will contain various agreements between you as the lessee and the landlord as the lessor. We will explain to you what these are. Under a lease, ground rent is paid and a service charge will be paid. You can usually extend the length of time of a lease by paying the landlord a sum of money.

 

I am buying a property with my partner – we are not married – is there anything I need to think about?

Where more than one person owns a property together they can choose to own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common (see Legal Terms above). If one of you is investing more money into the property than the other they could protect their share by owning a greater percentage of the property – this would be documented in a Declaration of Trust which we can draft for you. Ask us for more information.

 

Do I need to come to the office? 

Although most stages of the process can be completed by post, email or telephone you will be asked to attend at the office to bring your identification. You may not meet with the conveyancer dealing with your matter. If the conveyancer feels a meeting is necessary (such as you are buying as unmarried partners in unequal shares or there is a specific issue with the title) you will be asked to attend a meeting at the office.

 

Why do you need identification from me?

Under the Money Laundering Regulations we have to obtain details of your identity to safeguard against money laundering and mortgage fraud. This is a legal requirement.

I have a buyer for my house, what’s next?

How soon do I need to pay any money? 

We ask you to provide £50 on account of costs before we start work on your matter. This will pay for the documents required to sell your property. The costs and agents fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you. If you are in negative equity you will need to provide us with money to pay off the mortgage, agent fees and our fees before we exchange contracts.

 

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

Although there are limited exceptions, generally the same firm of solicitors cannot act for both parties in a transaction because of a potential conflict of interest.

 

How long will it take to exchange and complete ?

It is impossible to give an exact timetable as this will depend on many different factors such as how long it takes for your mortgage offer to be issued, whether there are any issues with the title to the property, and the length of your chain (as everyone in the chain has to exchange on the same day and complete on the same day). However, it usually takes around 8 weeks from when you instruct us . If you need different timescales then let us know and we’ll always do our best to help you.

 

Why do I need an EPC?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required by law when a property is marketed for sale. The EPC relates to the energy efficiency of a property and recommendations as to how to make a property more efficient. Your Estate Agent will normally have arranged the  EPC for you. Make sure you keep the EPC when you move, because you may be able to use it again if your move is short-term.

 

Do I need to come to the office? 

Although most stages of the process can be completed by post, email or telephone you will be asked to attend at the office to bring your identification. You may not meet with the conveyancer dealing with your matter. If the conveyancer feels a meeting is necessary (such as you are buying as unmarried partners in unequal shares or there is a specific issue with the title) you will be asked to attend a meeting at the office.

 

Why do you need identification from me?

Under the Money Laundering Regulations we have to obtain details of your identity to safeguard against money laundering and mortgage fraud. This is a legal requirement.

Before exchange of contracts

Who is responsible for insuring the property?

The Buyer is responsible for insuring the property from exchange of contracts, and if you are having a mortgage your mortgage lender will make it a condition of your mortgage offer to have insurance from exchange of contracts. You need to have this in place before exchange.

 

Can I move into the property before Completion? 

If the property you are buying is empty and if the seller agrees you may be able to have access to the property between exchange and completion if you wish to decorate or similar.

 

When should I book my removal van?

The completion date is not guaranteed until contracts have been exchanged. We therefore 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.

After exchange of contracts

How is my mortgage repaid?

We will get a statement from the mortgage lender of what is owing on the date of completion and repaid the mortgage from the proceeds of sale.

 

How is the estate agent paid?

So long as you have given us authority in the initial forms sent out to you we will pay your estate agents fees and our fees from the proceeds of sale.

 

When will I get the keys and be able to move into the property?

Generally you will not be able to get the keys until the purchase has completed on the day of completion. It is usual practice to try and vacate a property being sold by midday on the day of competition and to deliver the keys to the estate agent so that the keys are available for collection by your buyers once all money has been transferred (which is usually by 2pm). There could be a delay particularly if there is a long chain or money is coming from mortgage companies in the chain.

After Completion

What happens to the deeds to my house?

Once completion has taken place we will arrange to register your ownership at the Land Registry. The Land Registry will then send a copy of the title register to us and we will send this to you. However, all information is stored electronically at the Land Registry so copies can easily be retrieved.

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