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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: 14/05/18

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.

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

A.

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.

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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.

What is SDLT and how is it calculated

A.

Editor note: Stamp duty information in this answer correct at time of writing (29/05/13). SDLT is subject to annual review, typically at the government's annual budget.

'SDLT' stands for 'Stamp Duty Land Tax' which is a tax payable to HMRC by a property buyer on all properties sold for £125,000 or above

SDLT is calculated as a percentage of the final purchase price according to the following brackets

  • £0 - £125,000 - 0%
  • £125,001 - £250,000 - 1%
  • £250,001 - £500,000 - 3%
  • £500,001 - £1 million - 4%
  • > £1m - £2m - 5%
  • > £2 m - 7%

Your conveyancing solicitor will submit the SDLT Return to HMRC on your behalf upon completion of your home purchase.

Q.

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

A.

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.

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.

Are searches fees or disbursements?

A.

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.

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.