Residential Conveyancing FAQs

What is Conveyancing?

It is the process by which land is transferred from one person to another. During the process the conveyancer acting for the buyer manages elements of the conveyancing process such as investigating title, carrying out searches at the local authority and elsewhere, reporting to the buyer on legal matters which affect the property, dealing with the Land Registry etc..

When should I instruct a solicitor?

Ideally before you put your house on the market in relation to a sale and before you offer on a property in the case of a purchase

What is a registered title?

The Land Registry keeps a central register recording the ownership of land. It records the owners details and most of the legal matters (such as easements, covenants and mortgages) which affect the land. Over 85% of land in the UK is registered. The bulk of the unregistered land belongs to institutions such as the church and landed estates where ownership has not changes for many years

What does exchange of contracts mean?

This is a process carried out by your conveyancer (usually over the phone) when the transaction becomes binding. Up until then any party can withdraw from the deal. The exchange of contracts ties both parties into the deal.

How much Deposit will I need to pay?

The industry norm is 10%. Sometimes buyers cannot find that amount and a lesser amount can be negotiated. Often the deposit received on the sale is passed down the line of purchases (which in many instances will be less than 10%). It may be difficult to negotiate a deposit of less than 5%.

Who decides upon the completion date?

This is a matter for negotiation between the parties in the chain date. Completion must take place on a working day when the banks are open (i.e. not a Saturday, Sunday or Bank Holiday). Completion on a Friday is sometimes convenient for the parties as it gives the weekend to get sorted out however, completion earlier in the week may make it easier to arrange removals or to carry out certain tasks during the working week.

Do I need a survey?

Under English law you take the property as you find it. The principle is known as ‘buyer beware’. It is essential that the property is fully inspected. Whilst some buyers are content to do that themselves or to have it looked over by a builder, in the majority of cases buyers arrange for properties to be inspected by a professional surveyor.

Who arranges the survey?

The survey is different from the searches (which are done by your conveyancer). If you are obtaining a mortgage the mortgage company will generally arrange a valuation of the property but this is solely to guide them on the value of the property before lending to you. The mortgage company’s valuer may be prepared to carry out a survey for you at the same time (at additional expense). Whether the inspection is being made by the mortgage lender’s surveyor or by one appointed by you, we would always recommend that you arrange for a survey to be carried out. Most surveyors offer different levels of inspection ranging from the basic valuation to a home buyer report to a full structural survey.

How long will it take?

The average time between instructing your solicitor and moving in is 10-12 weeks but how long it actually take will depend upon factors such as the length of the chain, how quickly parties can arrange their mortgage finance and whether or not any problems arise.

What is a “chain”?

People often want to sell and buy ( an move) at the same time. This leads to a number of linked transactions, each dependent on the other, and exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously in all transactions (usually with the completion dates also being synchronised).

How long should there be between exchange of contracts and the completion date?

This is entirely down to negotiation between the parties and can be anything from simultaneous to many months. It should be long enough for the parties to make practical arrangements and tends to be a minimum of two weeks.

What is gazumping and can I have a lock out agreement?

Gazumping is where a seller accepts a higher offer before contracts are exchanged with the buyer. Lock out agreements can help but are not common and are difficult to enforce.

Why have I been asked to provide proof of identification?

Solicitors ( along with many other parties in the property world such as banks and firms of estate agents) are required by law to check the identity of their clients as part of the nationwide drive to protect money laundering and fraud. Each body must carry out its own process of process of identifying clients and the source of funds.

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