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The Conveyancing
Process Explained


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Conveyancing in your area Q & A's

Profile photo of Lorraine Imhoff

By Lorraine Imhoff

Ask Lorraine a question lorraine@homewardlegal.co.uk

Updated: 17/09/16

Successful conveyancing is as much about having a rounded understanding of the practicalities involved in buying and selling a property as it is about a thorough command of the legal process.

Below we feature some recent common questions asked by home movers.

Q.

We need a discount conveyancing quote. How do I get a quote?

A.

The lack of clarity surrounding this point catches out many buyers, and can leave them paying far more in conveyancing fees than they budgeted. Many firms promote 'the cheapest conveyancing quotes'. Unfortunately additional costs are often hiding in small print. Any costs needs to be fair and only come into force where your lawyer must perform additional tasks for you, which could not be anticipated at the start of the process. Get a quote using the Homeward Legal quote calculator for the property you are buying.

Q.

Conveyancers in the UK apply for official searches if instructed by a purchase client - which particular searches?

A.

If you are obtaining a mortgage, your lender will mandate a solicitor to get obtain a Local Authority Search (possibly an official search although some accept personal searches), an environmental search:, and perhaps specific local searches, like a Coal and Brine.

Q.

If you are buying next to a church, is it important that I get a chancel search?

A.

Chancel repair liability can require home owners to contribute towards the cost of upkeep of an old church building. Chancel repair liability goes back hundreds of years to when the local local parish typically started owning large amounts of land. When properties situated on church land were subsequently sold, the church would only allow the sale to occur if the buyer accepted an obligation to contributed to some or, in some cases, all of the cost of future chancel repairs.

The liability passes from owner to owner and as has on occasion left unsuspecting buyers with a large bill. As a result a Chancel Liability search has formed a standard part of the conveyancing protocol.

Q.

What do we need to know about fixtures and fittings?

A.

New owners will often be frustrated with the lack of formality around what fixtures and fittings should be included in a sale. Sometimes this list isn't 'firmed up' until the transaction nears completion. Fixtures and fittings can also form post offer negotiations.

Usually however, and to avoid confusion, an approximate list will be agreed by the buyer and seller prior to offer, and the seller will note these in the formal conveyancing form known as the 'FFF' or 'Fixtures and Fittings Form'. This form confirms in detail what will be sold with the property and forms part of the contract of sale.

Q.

How much will my conveyancing searches in the UK cost?

A.

Searches vary in cost, depending on the specific searches which have been ordered and the local authority in which the property is located. Some lenders insist on 'official' local authority searches which may cost slightly more as they cannot be sourced through a personal search agent.

Homeward Legal show the full cost of searches as part of the conveyancing quote. These searches are disbursements meaning they are charged to the home buyer at cost.

Q.

Why does conveyancing take so long

A.

Understandably, the first thing you want to know is a moving date. Even if you are not in a hurry, you ideally want a firm date to help you plan the move.

So this is a very common question and unfortunately a difficult one to answer at the outset of a transaction.

On average conveyancing takes around 2 months. However working closely with the right solicitor can dramatically speed things up. Although you are often at the mercy of the slowest link in the moving chain, a proactive solicitor will identify where these slow moving parties are and push them along.

The key thing you can do, as a buyer or seller, is to complete all of the necessary protocol forms as quickly as possible, make sure finance and survey formalities occur as early on as possible (lenders can really slow the process down) and help your solicitor respond to any questions raised by your buyer as quickly as you can.

Many solicitors would address this question by listing elements of the conveyancing process such as search and lender delays, as well as the sheer amount of work involved as reasons that protract the process.

In reality, many of these delays issues are foreseeable in as much as they occur all the time and a forward thinking lawyer will attack these issues early on.

If we were asked to give one tip that can save the process dragging on interminably it would be for leaseholders. If you are selling a leasehold property, apply to the Managing Agent for the Management Information Pack as soon as you start to market the property as some agents take weeks or even months to produce this.

Q.

Does the conveyancing solicitor look into the risk of flooding?

A.

When acting for a purchaser, a property lawyer will carry out an environmental search which should identify if the property is on a known floodplain. If it is it doesn't not necessarily mean that the home has ever or ever will be flooded as the search only assesses general risk only.

Furthermore, the information in the search cannot factor in things like the existence and effectiveness of flood defenses such as the Thames Barrier for example.

If a potential risk is identified, your lawyer may recommend a further more detailed search known as a Homecheck Flood Report. Please speak to your solicitor if you have any concerns about flood risk.

See a sample Homecheck Flood Report.

Q.

As a result of the worrying amount of flooding in the UK in April 2012 we are concerned that conveyancing and environmental searches might not be sufficient?

A.

Conveyancing searches applied for by the UK conveyancer should also include a far more detailed search (Landmark) if required.

If you are still nervous you could contact a local resident.

Q.

To complete on our purchase as soon as possible, how can we ensure we get a fast conveyancing service?

A.

The key to faster conveyancing is to instruct a proactive, communicative property lawyer. However, there are several things you, as the purchaser, can also do to get moving sooner. These including, asking for property searches to be ordered immediately, responding to your property lawyer by phone, fax or email wherever possible and getting your mortgage offer in place.

Q.

We are taking out a mortgage with the Royal Bank of Scotland, what do I need to check?

A.

Recently, a number of lenders have reduced the number of firms on their approved panel, potentially creating higher conveyancing costs for buyers. We, however, can act on behalf of most mortgage lenders.

Q.

Is top-soil in the UK contaminated by lead?

A.

Effort is made on a local and national level to remediate top-soil contamination. Land may also be contaminated by other sources, including groundwater contaminants like household chemicals and polychlorinated biphenyl (PCBs).

Q.

Local authority searches add to the cost of moving but what is there value?

A.

The local authority search is a set of enquiries made of the local authority's records. It relates planning and building control records, roads and highways, local development plans and so on. It is worth mentioning however, that the search only relates to the property you are thin king of buying and does not report on any records affecting neighbouring or nearby properties.

It is a search of the subject property only and does not cover neighbouring properties, so for an example it would not reveal planning applications relating to properties or land in the area. A separate search, known as a 'Plan Search', would be needed for this.

The search is a key part of the conveyancing protocol as the information is deemed relevant to the purchasers interests. Mortgage Lenders insist on this search being carried out, at the expense of the buyer naturally.

However if you are a cash buyer you do not have to have this search and you should inform your solicitor if that is the case.

 

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