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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: 20/08/16

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.

If we plan to buy in a local parish, will it be necessary to get a chancel search?

A.

Wherever you are buying in the UK, the solicitor instructed to handle the transaction might recommend that a chancel search be ordered. In some areas of the UK, chancel repair may be apportioned on new owners of a property where Parochial Church Councils have not imposed the same liability on the last owners. It is not safe to rely on the historical behaviour of the parish council alone as a guide.

Q.

How early do we need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor in the UK?

A.

Whether you are buying or selling in the UK, earlier is preferable, as the legal work can start very early in the process. Promptly instructing a solicitor for your UK transaction can reduce any chance of the other side pulling out.

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.

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.

Q.

Would getting a house survey be advisable if we are purchasing a property?

A.

It is firmly advised that all purchasers in the UK book an inspection. There are a range of defects that can affect a property. These can include cracked roof tiles. These will not be reported on by a solicitor.

Q.

Which environmental factors will affect land in the UK. Are they an issue?

A.

Many of contaminants can impact residential property in the UK. Contaminants including proposed erection of mobile masts will be considered as part of the environmental searches.

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.

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.

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.

I am buying a property in a disadvantaged area. Can I still claim Stamp Duty Relief?

A.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Relief was available for buyers of residential and mixed use residential property between 1st January 2010 and 5th April 2013 on property being sold for less than or equal to £150k Sadly the government abolished SDLT relied on 5/04 13 and there are currently no plans to reintroduce it. For more information see the HMRC website Update: As of the 2013/14 tax year, stamp duty relief for disadvantaged areas is no longer available.

Q.

May the charges for my conveyancing conceal any hidden fees?

A.

No. Homeward Legal's solicitors never hide any hidden extra fees. You should be aware that some solicitors do not give accurate quotes, only estimates. The final bill you receive may be much more.

 

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