Conveyancing (Buying and Selling)
Buying or selling a house doesn’t have to be a headache
For most people the purchase of their home is the biggest financial undertaking of their life. Conveyancing is the process of transferring legal title of a property to a new owner and, typically, has two milestone events:
Exchange of contracts (deposit is transferred, and equitable title passes to the buyer)
Completion (balance of funds are transferred, and legal title passes)
Our experienced Residential Conveyancing team has over 80 years of combined experience, and we undertake all types of conveyancing transactions across England and Wales, and you will find our expert lawyers ready and available to help you with any of the following:
- Selling a property
- Buying a property
- Shared equity/Shared ownership
- Lease extensions
- Equity release/Home Reversion
- Freehold enfranchisement (blocks and groups of residences)
- Transfers of equity following divorce
- First-time buyers
- New homes
- Part exchange
- Conveyancing for repossessed property
- Conveyancing for builders & developers
For a free no obligation conveyancing quote, please use the contact form on this page or call us on 02087707979.
1. How long does it take to buy and/or sell a house?
Answer: On average, it takes approximately one to two months for completion of a conveyancing transaction, although this can be much quicker if there is no chain and no defects to title, or longer with a long chain or complications (for example, Licence to Assign/ Deed of Variation). In the case of developers and property investors we can exchange contracts in 24 to 48 hours when required.
2. What do you charge for conveyancing?
Answer: On first contact, we will provide you with a quotation of costs and disbursements for your transaction, but please see our Fees page for an approximate guide.
3. Is a survey necessary?
Answer: The property law of England & Wales operates on the basis of ‘caveat emptor’ meaning ‘buyer beware’. Therefore, if you did not spot an item of disrepair, you will have to pay for the repair. We would always recommend, therefore, that an independent surveyor examines the property you are buying. It is somewhat similar when you purchase a lease in that you will have to pay a portion of the repair and upkeep cost relating to the communal or shared areas (gardens, stairwells and so on).
4. What happens at Exchange of Contracts?
When the solicitors of relevant buyers in a chain have done their appropriate due diligence, a buyer and his seller will commit to their transaction by exchanging contracts. Their solicitors will do this, and it makes the purchase legally binding on both parties with an agreed date for completion. Unless there is a ‘lock-out’ agreement, then up to this point either party can walk away with no liability to each other.
A renter is therefore advised not to terminate his tenancy until contracts are exchanged. A landlord intending to sell with a vacant possession must be sure, at exchange, that he can secure this on completion else he will be in breach of contract.
5. Why do I need the Local Authority, Drainage and Environmental Searches?
Local Authority Search
The local authority search puts a host of different questions to the local council who hold records on the property and land, and it will protect the buyer from certain unpleasant eventualities affecting their use and enjoyment of the property and its value. The required basic search will reveal, for example, local planning that may affect the property such as new roads, liability for private road repair, and building control history.
Only basic planning history is covered. If you need advanced planning information about planning permission for development of nearby land, do let us know, although we will advise you if we feel it may be necessary. Optional local authority searches cover issues such as public paths, hazardous substance contents and common land.
This search covers an area of half a kilometre around the property, revealing flooding history, telephone masts, land contamination and so on. You need to know if you are buying land polluted by a previous occupant, as you may later be required by the local authority to take remedial action at your cost. Armed with this information you may decide not to buy after all.
Essentially, this shows you are connected for the purposes of water and sewage and where the pipes are located. This is important either if you are planning an extension or this has already been added to the property.
Planning applications and history in the nearby area can be carried out if required or at your request.
6. When are the Searches carried out?
After receiving your payment on account, and assuming we have a property plan from the seller’s solicitors, we can commence searches. It is a good idea to wait until we receive a plan, as this will confirm the extent of the property, and some local authorities will not perform a search without a plan.
7. Do I have to pay stamp duty land tax?
Stamp duty land tax is payable on increasing portions of any property (or lease) purchase above the value of £125,000.00. The current rates for residential properties are as follows:
- Up to £125,000– 0% of purchase price
- The portion from £125,001 to £250,000 –2%
- The portion from £250,001 to £925,000– 5%
- The portion from £925,001 to £1,500,000 -10%
- Over £1,500,000.00 -12%
The rules for SDLT are not overly complex, but we recommend you seek advice for anything but the simplest and smallest purchases, especially if you own, or will own, multiple properties, or if you are purchasing as a business.
8. If I am selling my property, at what point do I pay the agent’s fee?
The agent will normally send a commission account to the solicitor for the seller, on exchange of contracts. The wording of your agreement with your agent will determine when you must make payment, although usually we make payment from the net proceeds of your sale on the day of completion.
9. When you talk of ‘contract documentation’, what are you referring to?
The contract documentation comprises the purchase contract, incorporating the terms agreed, and title documents, both sent by the Seller’s solicitors. We will normally ask additional questions of the seller before exchange.
10. Do I need a survey if I am buying a property?
Caveat emptor, or “buyer beware” applies to property purchases, and you will need to inspect and survey the property to assure yourself of what you are buying. No warranty or guarantee is given by the seller. Upon exchange of contracts, you are legally bound to complete your purchase.
11. What does ‘exchange of contracts’ mean?
This is the point of no return, transacted by the solicitors, and during which the future date of completion is agreed, and after which buyer and seller are legally bound to complete the transaction and transfer the property. You should only arrange removals once exchange has taken place and the completion date is fixed. Failing to complete can leave you liable for breach of contract, penalties and forfeiture of the deposit you paid on exchange.
12. At what point do you exchange contracts on my behalf?
Once we have finished helping you with due diligence on your purchase, we will report back to you and explain the contract. Before we can exchange, we will need you to sign the contract and related documentation. However, we will not exchange until we are satisfied about the level of guarantee the title will give you to ownership of the property.
13. What happens after completion?
Once completion has taken place, we will send you any outstanding money by cheque or telegraphic transfer. We will pay your estate agent and redeem your existing/old mortgage. If you are a purchaser, we will pay your stamp duty land tax, register the title in your name at the Land Registry, which takes about three weeks, and send you the deeds to your new property.
14. When do the fees get paid?
If you are a seller, all fees are paid on completion including our own, and we will send you a comprehensive completion statement with all the details.
If you are a purchaser, we will send you a completion statement to approve, and we will ask you to put us in sufficient funds to complete the purchase and pay our fees, and expenses incurred on your behalf, in processing the legal work for you and your lender.
15. Is it really that simple?
Most residential conveyancing, bar the occasional case, is reasonably straightforward. We are experts in our field and will ensure your transaction is pushed through with the minimal of fuss and bother for you. Although the conveyancing process can occasionally be frustrating, we will let you know of any problems, and deal with them as swiftly and smoothly as possible.