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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: 19/04/18

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

A.

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.

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.

We are taking out a mortgage with the Royal Bank of Scotland, what do I need to check?

A.

Recently, a number of lenders have reduced the number of firms on their approved panel, potentially creating higher conveyancing costs for buyers. We, however, can act on behalf of most mortgage lenders.

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.

To complete on our purchase as soon as possible, how can we ensure we get a fast conveyancing service?

A.

The key to faster conveyancing is to instruct a proactive, communicative property lawyer. However, there are several things you, as the purchaser, can also do to get moving sooner. These including, asking for property searches to be ordered immediately, responding to your property lawyer by phone, fax or email wherever possible and getting your mortgage offer in place.

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.

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.

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.