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The Conveyancing
Process Explained


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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: 19/01/17

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 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.

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.

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.

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

A.

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.

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.

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 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.

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.

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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