Residential Conveyancing Frequently Asked Questions

Can I complete on a Saturday?

Completion of your transaction must take place between a Monday and a Friday as most banks and solicitors do not open at the weekend or Bank Holidays.

How long will it take?

We estimate approximately 8 to 12 weeks from the date of the Contract pack being received by your Conveyancer for a Freehold Registered property and 12 to 16 weeks for a Leasehold Registered property. We will always do what we can to progress the transaction as quickly as possible, but it is important to remember that if there is a chain, the transaction will only move as quickly as the slowest party in it If you have a particular time scale in mind, please advise us as soon as possible.

How much Stamp Duty Land Tax will I pay?

We will confirm the amount of Stamp Duty Land Tax payable for your particular transaction, before we commence work on your file and again shortly prior to completion based on the current rules.

How much time will there be between exchange and completion?

Most people prefer to have at least a couple of days between exchange and completion to give them time to make removal arrangements.
However, exchange of contracts can take place up to and including the day of completion (the day you pay for your new property and get the keys, or the day you receive the net sale proceeds if you are selling a property).
If you have a particular timescale for your house move, let us know as soon as possible and we will do our best to accommodate exchange of contracts and completion dates to suit you.

I am a purchaser and need to move quickly - do I need searches?

If you are a cash purchaser (that is, you do not require a mortgage to fund the purchase of a property), searches are entirely at your discretion however we would strongly recommend you obtain a local authority search, a drainage and water search and an environmental search to give you a complete picture of the property you are buying.

If you are purchasing with a mortgage, searches are a compulsory requirement of most mortgage lenders.

I am interested in buying a property at auction, but have never done so before, what should I do?

Buying at auction is a binding commitment and carries the same legal implications as signing contracts through a solicitor - if you are planning to purchase an auction property, it is advisable to have the Legal Pack checked thoroughly before you attend the auction and bid on the property. 

Once you have successfully bid for a property through auction, and the contracts have been exchanged, you are legally committed to purchase the property.

I wish to take someone off / add someone onto my title deeds - what do I need to do?

This process is called a transfer of equity. If the property being transferred is currently mortgaged, you will be required to obtain your Lender's written consent to change the ownership. A document called a 'Transfer Deed' is then drawn up and signed by all parties to the transaction, including the mortgage lender. Once this is done, an application will be submitted to HM Land Registry to change the title deeds.

We are buying in joint names - what do we need to know?

Married couples or people living together can choose to purchase the property as with a) 'joint tenants' which means that upon the death of one or other of them - that person's share automatically passes to the other owner or b) ‘tenants in common’ which means that the deceased’s share does not pass automatically to the other owner, but can be left to a third party in a Will (such as a child from a previous relationship).  Owning as ‘tenants in common’ requires each owner to have a valid Will to ensure the property is passed in accordance with their wishes.

Neither of these choices is permanent and can be changed by the parties at any time, as often as they wish, throughout their ownership of the property.

What are disbursements?

Disbursements are the additional expenses which are required for the purchase or sale of your property but they do not form part of our professional legal fees. Disbursements are those expenses payable to other outside agencies/third parties i.e. searches, stamp duty land tax and land registry searches. Disbursements should be the roughly the same at all law firms. Our residential conveyancing team will be happy to give you a breakdown of all disbursements when we give you an estimate of our residential conveyancing charges for your particular transaction.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process in which a property is transferred between owners.

What is exchange of contracts and do I need to be there?

Exchange of contracts is the formal process whereby you become legally committed to proceed with the sale or purchase of your property. You do not need to be present when exchange takes place, however, we will let you know when contracts have been exchanged. From that point you are bound to complete your sale or purchase and there are severe financial penalties payable should either party withdraw from the contract, after exchange has taken place.

What is the difference between registered and unregistered land?

Unregistered land is simply land which has never been formally recorded at HM Land Registry. The main reason land remains 'unregistered' is that the property hasn't been sold/mortgaged in the last 40 years, as registration was not compulsory at that time.

Selling unregistered land is not a problem, providing all of the original documents are available. If you purchase a property which is currently unregistered, submission of your application to the Land Registry will trigger 'first registration' as registration is now compulsory throughout the UK. The Land Registry will produce a Title Information Document and a copy of the newly created Register in your name.

What type of searches do you do and what are they for?

The main types of searches that are carried out are:

  • Local Authority Search - reveals details of planning history along with any proposals for new roads or traffic schemes.
  • Environmental Search - carried out to see if there is any landfill or waste disposal sites in the area. It also checks for toxic emissions, flooding and subsidence.
  • Drainage & Water Search - will show whether or not the surface and / or foul water drains run into public or private sewers.

We do not carry out a Chancel Repair Liability Search because most properties now reveal a potential liability. Instead, if the Register to the property you are purchasing has not been updated since October 2013, we will obtain a No Search Chancel Indemnity Policy on completion to protect you in the event of a Chancel Repair Liability being added to the register prior to the registration formalities being completed. For further information please contact us.

When do I get my sale proceeds?

Net sale/re-mortgage proceeds will be despatched to you from our conveyancing team on the day of completion by either BACS or Telegraphic transfer to your chosen bank account.

When do I get the keys to my new home?

The keys are released when all of the money for the purchase has been received by the seller's solicitor, this will happen on the day of completion and is around 1pm or 2pm, depending on the time specified in the contract you have signed.

If you are in a chain there is an element of flexibility required on the day of completion as all parties are usually moving out on the same day and your sellers will not be able to obtain their new keys until the funds reach their seller’s solicitors and so on.   This will be explained in the report provided to you and also during the transaction.

When will I get the confirmation the property is registered in my name?

Registration at HM Land Registry can take anything from a few weeks or months, if the property is already registered.   If the property is unregistered the registration formalities generally takes 1 to 2 years due to the workload and backlog of HM Land Registry.

Will you require money upfront?

On a purchase or re-mortgage, we require the amount for the searches as shown in our Fee Estimate from you at the outset to enable us to request the searches on the property on your behalf. 

On all transactions, we also require a payment from you at the outset on account of costs. This amount will be detailed in our initial letter.  

These amounts are then deducted from our final bill at the end of the transaction.