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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: 16/02/17

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What is gazumping?

A.

Gazumping occurs when a property seller acknowledges an offer, then dismisses it, choosing instead a greater offer.

Though being gazumped is uncommon when property prices are falling, there is still a chance. Instructing a law firm early should help to mitigate this risk.

'Gazundering' is effectively the opposite of Gazumping and is not uncommon in the market once again. Gazundering is when a buyer reduces their offer at the contract negotiation phase usually during the conveyancing process

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.

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.

 

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