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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: 21/11/17

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.

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.

As a result of the worrying amount of flooding in the UK in April 2012 we are concerned that conveyancing and environmental searches might not be sufficient?

A.

Conveyancing searches applied for by the UK conveyancer should also include a far more detailed search (Landmark) if required.

If you are still nervous you could contact a local resident.

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.

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.

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.

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.

What length of time may should I allow for the legal work when selling a residential property in England?

A.

For most residential property, the number of weeks required to sell or purchase a residence can vary. This is according to a number of issues affecting the property which may include cases where a property has a mortgage. Our conveyancers ensure your sale, purchase or remortgage receives communicative and proactive service, resulting in the fastest possible outcome.

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.

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).