How long will it be until I can get the keys to the property?
All transactions are individual and will depend on a number of factors as well as the wishes of each party in the chain of transactions.
A rough estimate would be that completion would occur 6 to 10 weeks after the transaction is initially agreed.
We will try to complete your transaction as quickly as possible and if you have any particular requirements you should make us aware of these as early as you can.
I have been provided with the contact details for the team handling my transaction. Why do you use teams?
All our conveyancing transactions are handled by teams of 3 or 4 individuals. Each team is headed by an experienced conveyancer and supervised by qualified solicitors and Legal Executives.
By working in teams your conveyancer is supported by experienced assistants. This means that even when one member of the team is not in the office there are still other members of the team who will be able to handle the transaction.
It could be any member of the team who will be your main point of contact but if you would like to speak to the conveyancer about a particular issue please ask at any time.
How will you keep me updated?
We will update you at all the main stages of the transaction. We use email for the majority of our contact with you but will also use telephone and letters where appropriate. If you prefer a particular form of communication please let us know and we will endeavour to use this.
If you would like an update at any stage the please use the direct email or phone number which you have been provided for the conveyancers handling your transaction.
Why are you asking me to prove my identity?
We are under a duty to verify your identity under the Money Laundering Regulations. We may also be asked to verify your identity by other parties to a transaction.
In all cases the Land Registry require us to have verified your identity as a party to a transaction being registered with them.
Where you are having a mortgage your lender requires us to have checked your identity as part of our instructions from them.
I have been told you will be carrying out searches of the property I am buying. What are these searches and what are they for?
In all cases we will carry out the following searches:
- Local Authority Search – this search will check the registers held by the Local Authority and will reveal, among other things, matters such as the planning history of the property, whether the road the property is on is a publicly adopted highway and whether any adverse charges are registered in the Local Authority registers.
- Drainage and Water Search – this will confirm whether the property is connected to mains water and drainage.
- Environmental Search – this will check the historic use of the land on which the property is built. It will reveal if the information in any public registers suggests that the property could potentially be considered contaminated land under environmental legislation and therefore subject to potentially expensive clean up costs.
In addition to these we will check if any specific searches are recommended for the location of the property such as a flood search or coal mining search. We will advise you of the additional cost for any of these services before these are carried out.
Should I have a survey carried out for the property I am purchasing?
It is recommended that a survey of some type is carried out in all cases.
When you are purchasing with a mortgage your lender will carry out a valuation of the property. In many cases this is the only inspection by a surveyor. We would always recommend that a more detailed survey is carried out as this valuation will make very few comments on the condition of the property. It is for the benefit of the lender and you cannot rely upon it if there later proves to be an issue with the property.
You may be able to contact your lender and arrange for their surveyor to carry out a more detailed report for your benefit at an additional cost.
There are various other options available for surveys depending on the surveyor you approach. The most common options are:
- A Home Buyers Report – this is not a full structural survey but provides an option which goes into detail between this and a basic valuation.
- Full Structural Survey – this is recommended for all older properties or properties which have been significantly altered. This is the most comprehensive survey you can obtain.
Can the same solicitors act for both the sellers and the purchasers in the transaction?
If you are interested in this then please speak to us and we can advise if this will be possible. We would not advise this unless we are sure there is not a significant risk of a conflict of interest arising between the interests of each party.
I will be having a mortgage on the property I am purchasing. Can you also act for my mortgage lender?
In almost all cases where there is a mortgage we will also be acting for your mortgage lender and reporting on the title to the property to them.
We are on the panel for all the major lenders and the vast majority of other lenders. If you need to confirm whether we are on the panel for a particular lender please ask.
Somebody who is going to be living in the property and is not on the mortgage has been told they will need to sign a form in connection with the mortgage. What is this?
This is a consent form for the mortgage. By signing this an occupier will confirm that they are aware of the mortgage and they will agree that in the event that the lender ever has to seek possession of the property they agree to vacate.
We would always advise that an occupier seeks independent legal advice on the contents of this form as we would be unable to advise them. Some lenders will require that independent legal advice is obtained.
If the other party decides they do not want to proceed will they need to reimburse me for any costs I have incurred?
Until contracts have exchanged either party is able to withdraw from the transaction and no compensation would be payable. This ensures that the purchaser is able to have the legal due diligence carried out and obtain a survey and mortgage. If any adverse matters are revealed then it gives them an opportunity to renegotiate or withdraw from the transaction.
Unfortunately this does also mean that either party can withdraw without giving a reason.
Once contracts have exchanged the position is different and there will be financial liabilities to withdrawing from a transaction.
I understand some properties are registered at the Land Registry and some are not. Why is this?
It is now compulsory for all purchases of property to be registered at the Land Registry but this was not always the case.
Some properties which have not changed hands for some time will still not be registered at the Land Registry and we will need to see, and report upon, the old paper copies of the deeds. Following completion of the transaction the property will need to be registered.
We have experience dealing with the properties which are either registered or unregistered.
I have been told the property I am buying is freehold/leasehold. What does this mean?
In most cases houses are purchased on a freehold basis and flats are purchased on a leasehold basis.
The freehold title relates to the ownership of the land itself. All properties have a freehold title.
If you purchase a leasehold property then you will be the tenant of the property. This could be by purchasing an existing tenancy/lease or when a new tenancy/lease is created.
Residential leasehold properties are usually the subject of a long lease which was initially granted for 99 years or more. By purchasing the property you will become a tenant of the property and will be entitled to exclusive use of the property.
Leases are usually used for flats to ensure that the Landlord retains control of the building and common parts. This means that one person/organisation is responsible for maintaining the main structure and common parts and can charge for this through a service charge.
What is the difference between exchange of contracts and completion?
Exchange of Contracts is the point at which a transaction becomes legally binding. This will not occur until all parties are ready to proceed. A deposit is usually paid at this stage.
Completion is the point at which the balance of the purchase price is paid (and any mortgage funds are drawn down). This is the point at which ownership of the property actually changes.
How much deposit is usually paid on exchange of contracts?
A deposit of 10% of the purchase price is usually paid upon exchange of contracts. This can be higher or lower if this is agreed between the parties.
What can I expect to happen on the day of completion?
Prior to the day of completion we will have provided you with a completion statement when we need funds from you and instructions for how these can be transferred to us. We will also have requested any mortgage funds.
Under the terms of the contract completion should usually occur by no later than 2pm. However, in practice, completion will occur once the funds have been transferred to the seller’s conveyancer. Where there is a chain of transactions this will depend on how long it takes for the money to arrive with us on your sale transaction.
I have been told completions usually occur on a Friday. Does it matter which day we complete?
Completions can occur on any banking day that is agreed between the parties.
Friday is the traditional day for completion as it allows the weekend for unpacking and organising the house which has been purchased.
I need to carry out some work on the property I am buying. Can I have access to the property before I complete?
It is not usual for access to be granted prior to completion.
If a seller will agree this then it is likely that they will require exchange of contracts to occur and they will require a “key undertaking” by which you will agree to return the keys if requested to do so.
I am intending to carry out some alterations to the property I am purchasing. What do I need to consider?
It is possible that you will require planning permission and building regulations approval for any work. There may be additional considerations if the property is a listed building or in a conservation area.
We do not provide detailed planning advice and if there is any doubt in this respect you should seek the advice of the Local Authority and/or a planning consultant.
In addition to these consents there may be covenants on the title to the property which require consent form a named individual. We will provide details of these covenants when reporting to you.
Will I need to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax?
Stamp Duty Land Tax is payable on almost all transactions where the purchase price exceeds £250,000. There are also additional rates applicable for:
- purchases of second homes
- purchases by people/companies resident outside the UK
There are also a number of exemptions as well as different rules applicable to companies.
We will provide details of the stamp duty payable when providing details of the fees. Details of the current rates payable can be found on the HMRC website together with an online calculator.
When will I become responsible for insuring the property?
This will depend on the exact terms of the contract but regardless of this we would always advise that you insure the property from exchange of contracts. This is because from exchange you will be committed to purchase the property even if any damage occurs to it.
If a property is leasehold you will not usually be required to insure the building as it will be insured by the Landlord. You will need to insure the contents once you are in occupation.
When should I book my removals?
We do not advise that removals are confirmed until contracts have exchanged. At any point up to this date it is possible for the date to change or for a party to withdraw from the transaction.
We are purchasing as joint owners but we are not contributing equally to the purchase. Can this be recorded?
If you wish to record such contributions then this can be recorded in a Declaration of Trust. We ask for these details in our initial instruction forms.
There will be an additional cost for a Declaration of Trust and we will advise you of this cost once we become aware that this is required.
I understand the property I am purchasing is subject to covenants. What is a covenant?
A covenant is a binding promise in relation to a property which is usually registered on the Land Registry title. As owner you will need to comply with these.
Covenants can be either positive (an obligation to do something – such as pay a charge) or restrictive (an obligation not to do something – such as an obligation not to alter the property without consent).
I am purchasing the property as a buy to let. Are there any tax considerations I should be aware of?
It is very likely that the purchase of a buy to let will have tax consequences for you including, but not limited to, Income Tax and Capital Gains Tax (which is payable where a property is not your principal residence). You are also likely to be liable for the additional 3% rate of SDLT when buying an additional dwelling.
We are not in a position to offer tax advice. You should speak to a suitably qualified financial advisor about your tax liabilities before committing to purchase a buy to let property.
How long will it take for me to receive the deeds to the property after we have completed?
We will submit the application to register the property to the Land Registry as soon as possible following completion. However this process can take some time.
We will advise you once the property is registered but there are currently significant backlogs and in some cases this can take over 12 months.
Now I have purchased a property do I need to make a will?
We advise that everyone makes a will but if you have not done so it is particularly important that you do so once you have purchased a major asset.
If you would like to make a will please let us know and we can put you in touch with the relevant person.