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The Conveyancing
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Conveyancing in your area Q & A's

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By Lorraine Imhoff

Ask Lorraine a question

Updated: 21/06/16

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.


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


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.


Why does conveyancing take so long


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.


We are buying a 1940's maisonette in the middle of a UK conservation area. How do we locate more data in respect of the current state of repair?


Conservation areas in the UK are nominated by the local planning authority, who manage everything from building materials to the inhibition of rundown streets.

Following a campaign, English Heritage maintains a detailed list about the state of conservation areas as well as the risk of deterioration or improvement.Q.

Is it imprudent to take care of the legal conveyancing process without help.


There is no reason why a seller shouldn't carry out the conveyancing on your own. In reality however, a solicitor takes care of a huge number of exercises such as chasing missing documents or interpreting management accounts some of which require a skilled professional.

In addition legal practices will take out insurance cover that protects you in the event of any failures on the part of the solicitor.


Is top-soil in the UK contaminated by lead?


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).


Is your solicitor team geared up for move fast on the conveyancing for property auction properties in UK?


In fact we prepare legal packs for vendors and often work for buyers and sellers at auction. Solicitors tend to encourage bidders to decide on a lawyer before the property auction date to allow enough time for a detailed report.

Following the date of the auction, your conveyancing lawyer will be focused on conclude the auction conveyancing process in less than 28 days as required by the terms of sale.


The owner looks to have fitted cladding on the property in the UK which might possibly infringe local conservation area criteria


Your instructed conveyancing solicitor to check if the property is located within a conservation area, and if so, whether any alterations have appropriate consents from the local authority.

In the absence of any consents, your solicitor will advise you of the alternatives which include getting retrospective permission from the planning authority or indemnity insurance.


Are searches fees or disbursements?


Each fee and disbursement should be clearly stated on a conveyancing quote, with any possible extra costs clearly listed. These costs are disbursements not fees, and is passed on at cost.


How does the solicitor discover whether a property is located in a conservation area?


Conservation areas delineate areas designated by 'English Heritage' as being of historical or architectural value.

The objective is to maintain and preserve the original character of the area and this is achieved by empowering local councils to police what is and isn't allowed in terms of development and modifications to existing property. It can also mean other measures such as the prohibiting of estate agent's boards.

These restrictions can result in the buyer inheriting liability of unauthorised changes. An example might be where a previous owner has installed PVC windows which are not in keeping with the area. The new owner would then be forced to replace the windows for acceptable ones and the cost will be borne by the new owner.

However, it is living in a conservation area is seen as a positive as there are significant benefits. For example buyers have the added certainty that a property (and the area in which it is situated) protected by conservation area status is more likely to be preserved and retain its value.

Your conveyancing solicitor will ask for proof of consent for any modifications made to the property and report to you before exchange of contracts.


When should I book the removal company?


Many people are tempted to leave this until the last minute for the understandable reason that they may not be absolutely sure of their completion date. They may even be 'jittery' about whether completion is going to happen at all. As some removals companies charge a non refundable deposit or cancellation fee, home movers are often tempted to leave this to the last minute.

However, movers can end up in with difficulties finding an available removals company at the last minute and may end up spending more money due to having less choice.

Best advice is to identify a company early, negotiate a best price and ensure that there is no cancellation fee or, at the very least, this fee is not applicable with reasonable cancellation notice.


What do we need to know about fixtures and fittings?


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.


What are conveyancing searches in relation to?


Conveyancing searches are a commonly-used bundle of queries carried out for the buyer. Buyers should be aware that, searches cover solely legal-related matters.