Conveyancing & Residential Property Frequently Asked Questions
Can I move house on a Saturday?
No, completion of your sale and/or purchase of property has to take place on a working day as the money used in the completion of a sale or purchase, or mortgage monies from a lender have to pass through the banking system. It is therefore not possible to complete on Saturdays, Sundays or bank holidays.
How long does the conveyancing process take until I can move in?
There are a various factors that can influence the time it takes to sell or buy a property.
Provided the seller has a clear title and is in a position to sell immediately, the timescale will be dictated by the buyer’s ability to proceed.
In most transactions there are three elements that have to be dealt with before exchange of contracts.
Searches: It is usual practice to carry out a local search, environmental search and drainage search together with searches that might apply in certain geographical areas (for example, it would be usual to carry out a mining search in a mining area and brine searches in certain parts of Cheshire). Searches usually come back within a matter of three to four weeks although some. Local Authorities may take longer.
Approval of the contract and title by the buyers solicitor: If there are no defects on the title and no issues that have to be dealt with, this will be a formality; although it is often delayed because the seller has not provided guarantees for work carried out, planning permissions and building regulation consents for extensions or alterations, or any consent that might have been required by landlords to such matters.
Buyer’s finances: If the buyer is a cash purchaser, fewer problems arise but if the buyer requires a mortgage it may take several weeks before a mortgage offer is produced. The length of time will depend upon how quickly the buyer submits his or her application for a mortgage, together with supporting evidence of income etc., how long it takes for the lender’s valuer to inspect the property and, of course, there may be issues arising out of the valuation that have to be resolved.
Taking all this into consideration, it is possible to achieve exchange of contracts with around four weeks, but on average it takes six to eight weeks to reach exchange of contracts. The completion date is agreed on exchange and inserted into the contract. This the date upon which keys are handed over by the seller to the buyer and the buyer can take occupation.
Do we need to have searches done on our property?
If you are buying a property with assistance from a lender i.e. a mortgage, then usually they will insist upon the searches being carried out.
If you are a cash buyer, it is your decision as to whether you wish us to carry out searches although we would always recommend that they be carried out.
Should you instruct us not to carry out searches we shall require you to sign a form of indemnity confirming that we have recommended that searches should be done and indemnifying us against any claim for loss that you may suffer in the future if the searches had revealed matters detrimentally affecting the property.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process that deals with transferring the legal title of a property or piece of land from one person to another. As conveyancing is a branch of law it must be completed by a solicitor who will complete the legal-administrative work needed to ensure the legal validity of a house purchase or sale.
A conveyancer will deal with and manage such issues as: dealing with the Land Registry, conducting local searches, providing legal advice, stamp duty payments, drawing up contracts and collecting and transferring funds.
Do I still have to pay legal costs if the sale ‘falls through’?
In the vast majority of cases we operate a ‘No Sale No Fee’ policy. This means that should your property sale fall through, you will not be obliged to pay any of the legal fees as these are only paid upon completion of a transaction. We do this so there is no inconvenience to you in terms of your own personal cash flow. We can explain this to you in more detail when you ring us up to receive a no-obligation fixed-fee quote.
Will I need to come into the office?
There is no need for you to come into the office. We conduct all our dealings over the phone, post and the internet, which means we can be instructed to complete your transaction no matter where you live in England and Wales. However, as a full service law firm we have real people and real offices, so you can always book an appointment to visit our Stockport offices.
What does exchange of contracts mean?
The exchange of contracts takes place solely between the solicitors of the two parties, usually over the phone, meaning you don’t have to be present. The transaction becomes binding when the exchange of signed contracts has taken place and the completion date is confirmed.
What are searches and disbursements?
Disbursements are any expenses incurred during the conveyancing process, which can include searches. There are many different types of searches that can be made on a property depending on its nature and location.
For example, searches need to be done with the land registry and the local authority. The land registry keep a register of who owns land and property in England and Wales. Whenever you take out a new mortgage, buy a property or transfer a property share, the legal title must be registered with the Land Registry. The local authority to see the planning and building regulation history.
Other disbursements include: stamp duty land tax, which is a governmental tax that comes into effect over a certain threshold when selling or transferring a property. See our Stamp Duty FAQ for more information.
There are also other searches, such as: water and drainage search to make sure your house is connected to the sewage system and an environmental search to make sure the property is not build on contaminated land, which can cause structural issues.
What is stamp duty and who has to pay it?
Stamp Duty is the Land Tax that must be paid if you buy a property in England, Wales or Northern Ireland over a certain price. It is paid by the buyer – not the seller. There are different rates of tax depending on price threshold your property falls within.
Property Price Stamp Duty rate Up to £125,000 0% – nothing payable From £125,001 to £250,000 2% From £250,001 to £925,000 5% From £925,001 to £1.5 million 10% Above £1.5 million 12%
For example: If you buy a house for £275,000, the SDLT you owe is calculated as follows:
- 0% on the first £125,000 = £0
- 2% on the next £125,000 = £2,500
- 5% on the final £25,000 = £1,250
- Total SDLT = £3,750
I’ve had a quote from Gorvins but are there any hidden charges?
At Gorvins we pride ourselves on operating a strict ‘no hidden charges’ policy. The transparent quote you receive at the beginning of the process is the price you will pay on completion. It includes all searches and disbursements. If you are buying a property, our quotes even include the stamp duty you will have to pay, which is a government tax and not one of our charges. However, as we want to be as honest as possible, we include it in our quote to give you the full picture and not surprise you further down the line like a lot of other conveyancers do.
Fees and disbursements will only ever change if something unforeseen happens during the process. Although this is uncommon, we will always contact you before and additional expense is incurred.