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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: 20/09/17

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.

How can I find out what local authority my new home is in?

A.

During the course of the conveyancing transaction your solicitor will make a number of enquiries of the local authority. These enquiries are known as 'searches' and their findings will be reported back to you in the 'Report on Title'. Prior to submitting searches your solicitor will identify the correct local authority.

You may wish to identify the relevant authority in advance however, as it will have a bearing on things like council tax, local services and so on. Visit the Government website https://www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council which can identify the relevant authority from a postcode.

Q.

Will the report on title compiled by the UK conveyancing solicitor investigate the cost of council tax on a Band C house prior to contracts are exchanged?

A.

Your property lawyer will contact the governing council to discover the latest council tax charges which will then be added to the report on title. Up-to-date rates for UK are set out in detail online at the local authority website.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 are conveyancing searches in relation to?

A.

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.

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.

When should I book the removal company?

A.

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.

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.

 

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