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Conveyancing FAQ

Frequently asked questions on conveyancing

Why should I use Reynolds Property Services solicitor panel?

Because we offer a Nationwide service in partnership with The National Homebuyer Conveyancing panel. Our quotations are competively based on comparing prices from a panel of Solicitors. The resultant Solicitor chosen are selected as the best value for money. The fees quoted are fixed, with no hidden extras.

The selected Solicitor, once instructed, will keep you regularly updated with the progress of your transaction.

As everything is dealt with either on-line or by post, there is no need for you to take valuable time off work for any appointments.

How long will it take?

If the property is empty and the buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can all be completed in a few days but this is very unusual.

However it is more likely that a mortgage will be required and there will be a chain of transactions. If that is the case it will usually take 4-6 weeks to exchange contracts and then another 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion making a total of 6-10 weeks from start to finish.

All of the solicitors on our panel will do everything that they can to progress your transaction as quickly as possible but we cannot offer any guarantee about how long it will take and you should not believe anyone else that does!

How soon do I need to pay any money?

Usually if you are purchasing a property your solicitor will ask you for approximately £250 at the beginning to cover the search fees that will be paid out on your behalf. The balance of the price and the solicitors costs etc will be payable shortly before completion unless you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price in which case it may be required prior to exchange of contracts (see also “How much deposit will I need”).

If you are just selling you will not need to pay any money in advance. The costs and agents fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you.

Do I need a survey?

If you are obtaining a mortgage a valuer will inspect the property on behalf of the lender. Although his report will give you an indication as to whether he thinks the property value is equal to the purchase price, you will probably not be able to rely on it if things go wrong.

For an extra fee you will usually be offered the option to arrange for the same valuer to carry out a more detailed “Home Buyers Report”. This can be relied upon by you, if at a later date you find a problem that is not mentioned in the report. You will then have some redress against the valuer.

If the property is relatively old and you are particularly concerned about its condition, you can obtain a full structural survey report which is much more detailed.

Always remember the golden rule is “let the buyer beware” so (provided you have not been misled) you will be liable for any problems that you discover after exchange of contracts.

How much deposit will I need?

It is normal for a deposit to be paid on exchange of contracts. Although many people think 10% is required, that is often not necessary. If you are buying and selling your solicitor can usually use your buyers deposit in connection with your purchase so you may not have to provide additional funds.

If you are only buying, the amount of the deposit will usually depend upon the size of your mortgage (if any). If it is less than 90% then you will usually need to find 10%. If you are borrowing more, your solicitor can often negotiate with the seller to accept your deposit or, if you are borrowing 100%, the amount of the costs and disbursements.

What searches are carried out & why?

There are five main types of search that can be carried out and the buyer’s solicitor will decide which of these are necessary in any particular case.

Local Authority Search
This reveals details of the planning history for the property and whether the Council are aware of any breaches of planning, any proposals for new roads or traffic schemes, tree preservation orders, conservation areas and any other matters within the Council’s control that may affect the property.

Drainage Search
This will show whether or not the surface and/or foul water drains run into a public or private sewer.

Land Registry Search
This is carried out just before completion in order to find out if there are new mortgages registered against the property that have not previously been disclosed. If there are, then the buyers solicitor will require confirmation that these will be repaid.

Land Charges Search
If you are obtaining a mortgage the lender will ask your solicitor to carry out a search to make sure that you are not bankrupt. Quite often this search will show an entry against someone else with a similar name. If so, you will be asked to sign a copy of the result to confirm that it does not relate to you.

Environmental Search
It has more recently been recommended that the buyers solicitor should also carry out an environmental search to see if there are any landfill or waste disposal sites in the area; if the property has been built on an old industrial site and whether there are any risks from contaminated land, toxic emissions, flooding, subsidence etc.

Can I exchange contracts before I receive my mortgage offer?

If for any reason the mortgage offer is declined or delayed or it contains any conditions that you cannot comply with, the money may not be available when required so it would be unwise to exchange contracts without the mortgage offer. Any competent solicitor would strongly advise you not to do so.

When can I book my removals?

It is best to avoid booking your removals until after contracts have been exchanged because before that time the moving date is not definite. You may lose money if the date changes after you have made the booking.

Can I complete on a Saturday or Sunday?

Unfortunately the banking system used for the electronic transfer of the funds is only available on weekdays (working days). Therefore your move has to take place between Monday & Friday.

Is there anything I can do to save paying stamp duty?

If the purchase price is just above the stamp duty limits and the sale includes some fixtures and fittings e.g. carpets, curtains, cooker, fridge, freezer etc, you may be able to legitimately apportion part of the price towards the fixtures and the duty will then be payable on the amount of the price agreed for the property only.

When do I need to arrange buildings insurance?

Unless the building insurance is being arranged by your lender or it is a leasehold property (and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder), you must arrange buildings insurance from exchange of contracts as the property will be at your risk from that time.

The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building the property if it burns to the ground (not necessarily the same as the current market value). If you had a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage your surveyor or the lender’s valuer will usually have suggested a minimum amount of buildings insurance cover in their report.

What do we need to know if we are buying in joint names?

Most couples who are married or in a stable relationship purchase as “joint tenants” which means that upon the death of one or other of them, that persons half share will automatically pass to the other.

The alternative is to hold the property as “tenants in common” which means that each person’s half share is treated as being separate so that upon the death of one or other of them, his or her share will not automatically go to the other, but to whoever it has been left to in the deceased persons will, or, if there is no will, to his or her next of kin.

If you are putting unequal amounts into the property the person who is paying the larger amount can and often should be protected by a “trust deed”. This sets out your respective shares, so that in the event of any dispute or upon the death of one or other of you in the future, your original intentions will be clearly recorded. Once you have considered the above options, if you require further advice you should tell your solicitor so that they can make sure that your wishes are carried out.

Should I cancel my existing mortgage direct debit before completion?

Following exchange of contracts most solicitors advise their clients to cancel any existing mortgage direct debit payments. This is because your solicitor will obtain a note of the outstanding balance (or redemption figure) from the existing lender which is calculated up to the completion date. If any direct debit payment is paid to the lender in the meantime, it will result in an overpayment. It may take a while for this to be repaid.

When do I make the first payment under my new mortgage?

When completing the mortgage application form, you would have been asked to specify a particular day in the month for your new direct debit. However, the lender will also usually contact you shortly after completion to let you know the first payment collection amount and day. You should be aware that, because of the way the interest is calculated, if you complete in the middle of a month your first payment may be slightly higher than normal.

What happens with the keys?

These are usually left with the estate agents (if any) and the buyer collects them once the money has been paid over on the day of completion. If there are no estate agents (or this is not convenient) then the seller will hand them direct to the buyer.

Either way it is important that arrangements are made in advance to prevent the possibility of the buyer having to wait outside with the removal van!

Although your solicitor will always try to ensure that everything is finalised as early as possible on the day of completion (and usually this is dealt with by midday), there can sometimes be a delay if, for example, your solicitor is still waiting for the mortgage monies to arrive or there is a particularly long chain. If this happens, please don’t panic because your solicitor will invariably resolve the problem by early afternoon – if not sooner!

What can I do if there are any unwanted items left at the property?

Unfortunately when some buyers go to their new property for the first time they find that the seller has left some unwanted items. Apart from taking legal action against the seller (which will take too long and be too expensive), the only other option is for your solicitor to write to the seller’s solicitor and say that if the items are not removed, you will arrange this yourself and send them the bill.
The only other practical alternative is for you to visit the property just before completion to check for yourself that everything has been removed.

When will I get my money?

If you are just selling, or there is a surplus due back to you after the completion of your sale and purchase, your solicitor will always try to send this to you on the day of completion or at the very latest, on the next working day.

Payment is usually made by cheque, but for larger amounts, your solicitor can transfer the money direct to your bank if you request this in advance & provide them with your account details. There may be an additional bank transfer fee for this service.

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