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What is residential conveyancing?

Essentially the legal process of buying, selling, mortgaging or transferring residential property. Due to its complicated nature both procedurally and legally, the majority of people instruct a specialist property solicitor to act on their behalf. Our team of residential property lawyers can provide efficient advice and assistance.

If you are purchasing with a mortgage, your lender will specify that a solicitor must act on their behalf throughout the sale.

What do I need to know about the conveyancing process?

We thought it would be useful to provide a rough guide as to the stages in the conveyancing process.  We have separated the notes into two sections: selling and buying a property.  Of course many of us will sell and buy at the same time.  In these cases we will discuss with you tying in the transactions to ensure that you move from one property to the other.  When you are selling and buying you are in what is termed a “chain” so your progress in the transaction is linked to the progress made by your Buyer and Seller and timescales must work within this.

Buying or selling a property incorporates three separate stages:

  • Agreeing the sale/purchase
  • Undertaking the legal work
  • Exchanging contracts where parties become legally committed
  • Completing the transaction
  • Post completion formalities

Buying a property

Before Exchange of Contracts:

Once you have instructed us, we will ask you to complete a form confirming your identification, contact and financial details.  We do this as part of our regulatory and legal obligations.

Once the seller’s solicitor has instructions from the Seller, they will send to us contract documents including:

  • Property information form – providing information on  legal boundaries, any work completed on the property and planning regulations amongst other matters
  • Fittings and contents form – specifies what the Seller will leave at the property and what they will take with them
  • A copy of the title to the property – this determines whether the Seller is legally entitled to sell the property to you. Contract of sale – specifies the address and price of the property, plus the names and addresses of the Buyer and Seller

Upon receipt of the contract documentation, we usually carry out a number of searches, including:

  • Personal Regulated Local Search and/or Official Local Authority Search
  • Drainage Search
  • Environmental Search

Later in the process, further searches including bankruptcy and Land Registry searches will be carried out pre-completion.

If you need a mortgage to buy your property, you will no doubt have already made an application. We will need to receive mortgage instructions in writing before we can exchange contracts.  It is perfectly usual for your Lender to instruct ourselves to act on their behalf in a conveyancing transaction. Kew Law LLP is on the majority of Lender (Mortgage Company) conveyancing panels, which prevents delay, but occasionally a Lender may wish to instruct their own solicitors.

We would recommend that unless you are buying a new property you have a full structural survey undertaken by a Chartered Surveyor.  We may be in a position to recommend one if you are unsure who to instruct. Surveyors very often have advance notice of planning and development if they are local to the area.  Although where a mortgage is required, Lenders will instruct a valuation, you should be aware that this does not provide any detail in terms of the property’s structural soundness.  A valuation is purely for the Lender’s benefit.  You should therefore consider carefully before relying on only  a basic valuation or homebuyer’s report provided by the mortgage lender.

Please bear in mind that we will not see or inspect the boundaries, so it will be for you and your surveyor to carefully check that the boundaries of the property are  as you expect.  Prior to the exchange of contracts we will provide you with a Land Registry plan to check against the layout on the ground. As the Buyer you should be aware that the principle of “let the buyer beware” applies to the purchasing of property as much as to any other purchase.  You should therefore conduct surveys and test services and/or appliances to avoid any issues once you have exchanged contracts.

Once all the relevant searches are complete, any survey is satisfactorily performed, and any required finance is in place, you will receive a contract to sign in readiness for exchange of contracts. We will also request from you a deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price, unless funds are to be available from a related sale in which case we would aim to use those funds) to offer your Seller’s Solicitors on exchange of contracts.

We would advise that you inspect the property prior to exchange of contracts to ensure the property is in the condition you expect.  The Seller will not be liable for matters which would be apparent from survey or inspection.

You will need to agree a provisional completion state with your Seller. If you purchased through an estate agent, we would suggest liaising via them to ensure that this can be agreed as quickly as possible.  The completion date (the date the majority money changes hands and people move) will be fixed upon exchange of contracts, so you will be unable to change the date following exchange of contracts without incurring significant penalties.  You therefore have to be sure before agreeing a date.  We will assist with the time-frames needed to complete the legal side of things.

Exchange of Contracts

On exchange of contracts (which will take place on the telephone between solicitors), we then pay a deposit to the Seller’s solicitor, which is usually 10% of purchase price though can be less if the sum received on any related sale does not equal to 10% of the purchase price.  The phrase “exchange of contracts” is reflecting the fact that your’s and your Seller’s signed contracts are exchanged through the post.  In the majority of cases the insurance risk for a property being purchased passes to the Buyer, so you will need to put your insurance on risk on exchange of contracts.

After Exchange of Contracts and before Completion

We shall prepare a financial statement setting out the funds we require to proceed to completion. The statement shall set out all costs incurred with the transaction. We will require cleared funds one working day before completion.  If you have a mortgage, we will request drawdown.

On Completion

On the agreed completion date, we transfer the balance for the sale to the Seller’s solicitor. The contractual time is usually between 1pm and 2pm

After Completion

Following completion we shall deal with payment of your Stamp Duty Land Tax and registration formalities at the Land Registry.

Selling a property

Before Exchange of Contracts

Once you have instructed us we will ask you to complete a form confirming your identification, contact and financial details. We do this as part of our regulatory and legal obligations. You will also need to complete standard forms about the property itself, put together a legal pack to send to your Buyer’s solicitor, which includes legal forms such as:

  • Property information form
  • Fittings and contents form
  • A copy of the title to the property
  • A Contract of sale for approval

Usually the Buyer’s Solicitors will raise some enquiries.  Where we can, we will answer them, but more often than not we will need to ask you to answer some of the questions. We will then ask you to sign the contract and transfer documents and also request you to provide instructions on the completion date. If you have sold through an estate agent, we would suggest liaising via them to ensure that this can be agreed as quickly as possible.  The completion date (the date the majority money changes hands and people move) will be fixed upon exchange of contracts, so you will be unable to change the date following exchange of contracts without incurring significant penalties.  You therefore have to be sure before agreeing a date.  The property must be ready on the completion date, which will mean giving vacant possession on completion unless you are selling the property tenanted We will assist with the timeframes needed to complete the legal side of things.

Exchange of Contracts

On exchange of contracts (which will take place on the telephone between solicitors), we then require a deposit from the Seller’s solicitor, which is usually 10% of sale price though can be less if the sum received on any related sale does not equal to 10% of the sale price, or if your Buyers are obtaining over 90% by way of a mortgage).  The phrase “exchange of contracts” is to reflect the fact that yours’s and your Buyer’s signed contracts is exchanged through the post.

After Exchange of Contracts before Completion

If you have a mortgage, we request a settlement figure from your lender, which is the amount you need to repay your mortgage lender once your property is sold. You will  be asked to sign a transfer document if you have not signed one already.  It is vital that document is with us before the completion date.  At this point you should make sure that the Estate Agent has the keys to hand over to the Buyer on completion unless you have arranged a personal handover.

On and after Completion

On your agreed completion date, your Buyer’s solicitor will send us the balance of the payment for your property. The contractual time for completion is usually between 1pm and 2pm, so the property should be clear and ready by lunch time. We use the completion funds to pay off your mortgage, your estate agency fees, our fees and any costs incurred during the sale. Any money left over will be forwarded  to you, unless it is needed for a related purchase.

Call our mobile friendly number on 0800 987 8156 for a free no obligation quote from our conveyancing department.

Please see the below pages to learn more about the other property related legal services that we offer:

Commercial conveyancing

Lease extensions

Costs Information

How will we work out your conveyancing quotation?

By way of explanation, quotations are influenced by a number of factors  including the price of the prospective property (higher price brings a conveyancing firm higher risk), whether mortgage finance is either needed for a purchase or a mortgage needs to be redeemed, whether “Help to Buy” is involved needing significant extra input from your solicitor or whether the property is Leasehold with a  management company and a freeholder involved, this is to name but a few.

The best way to obtain a bespoke quotation  adapted to your unique transaction is to go to https://www.kewlaw.co.uk/get-a-quote/ and request a detailed conveyancing quotation, or if you prefer we are more than happy to discuss your matter so you can learn what to expect in terms of progress.  Either way, we will always provide you with a quotation in writing which will be “tailor-made” to your transaction.  The person with conduct of your matter will either be a Solicitor or a qualified Licensed Conveyancer- with experience ranging from 2 years to over 20 years..  No unqualified teams with one leader working from huge “warehouse style” offices.

Here are  some examples of conveyancing fee quotations you can expect  in a selection of situations, we have estimated some third party costs are included (known as “disbursements”) such as, Official Copies of Land Registry Documents, Indemnity Insurance, Searches and Land Registry Fees.  We have however excluded Stamp Duty Land Tax as this is subject to change and depends on the circumstances of the Buyer.  To ascertain Stamp Duty Land Tax, please refer to the link below for properties in England: –

https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/calculate-stamp-duty-land-tax/#/intro

or if you are purchasing in Wales: –

https://beta.gov.wales/land-transaction-tax-calculator

Please note these examples are illustrative only, to obtain an individual quotation please contact us.  All examples are based on Land Registry fees as at August 2018 and where we have referred to a “solicitor” we mean “solicitor or licensed conveyancer”.

  1. Peter and Mary are first time Buyers purchasing a freehold house with cash at a price of £170000. They do not require any advice on their joint ownership of the property . There are no title issues , no requirements for indemnity insurance with no management company involvement and  the matter is expected to proceed smoothly with both parties (Buyers and Sellers) co-operating in a prompt manner.  In such a transaction the solicitors’ fee quotation can be expected to be in the region of £795- £895 plus vat.  They can expect to spend approximately £155 plus vat on instructing the searches required and disbursements of a further £100.00 for Land Registry searches and registration.
  2. Simon and Janet are purchasing a leasehold flat for £500000 with some cash but mostly by way of mortgage finance. They are not first time Buyers.  The solicitor is also instructed by the Mortgage Company.  Simon’s father is putting in most of the cash deposit, so Simon  and Janet have agreed that they would like the father’s investment to be protected by a declaration of trust ( the Mortgage Company have agreed).  Unfortunately there have also been title problems on the property with title insurance being required.  There is a management company and a freeholder, both of whom require the solicitor to draw up separate notices of assignment and a deed of covenant before they will consent to the transaction.  This type of transaction is complex and will involve significantly more input and time than example number 1.  The property is also significantly more expensive increasing the risk in terms of professional indemnity insurance.   In this transaction the solicitors’ fee quotation can be expected to be in the region of £995 – £1500 plus vat.  They can expect to incur approximately £155 plus vat on instructing the searches required and disbursements of a further £135-£270 for Land Registry fees, depending on whether  the application for registration at Land Registry can be done electronically.  Unfortunately it is not possible to anticipate Freeholder and Management Company administrative fees which may be incurred, but Simon and Janet should budget for this.
  3. Jennifer and Lesley are selling a freehold house for £250000 which has an existing mortgage on the property which will need to be redeemed and they would like to tie in a related purchase for which they have already obtained a separate quotation.  There is no management company.  All parties agree to proceed promptly and efficiently. Unfortunately Jennifer and Lesley cannot provide evidence of building regulations for some work at the property so they have agreed upon the solicitors’ advice to obtain suitable indemnity insurance.  Again a relatively straightforward matter and the solicitors’ fee quotation can be expected to be in the region of £745-895 plus vat .  They should expect to incur in terms of disbursements a further £12  for Land Registry title documents and the indemnity insurance in the region of £150.  Jennifer and Lesley will also incur estate agency fees, which of course which are determined by agreement prior to marketing.
  4. Henry and Penny are first time Buyers who funding the purchase of a house at £325000 with a “High Street Bank”  mortgage and a Help to Buy mortgage.  The solicitor will be instructed to act by both the Help to Buy Agency and the Bank.   The property is a “New Build” and therefore there is a significantly increased amount of documentation to go through and further the Developers are pushing for a fast exchange of contracts to meet their “month end target”.  Henry and Penny would like their solicitor to do everything they can to meet the deadline. In this transaction the solicitors’ fee quotation can be expected to be in the region of £1500 plus vat and disbursements.  The solicitor will be  required to provide undertakings and deal with significant administration in respect of Help to Buy requirements. They can expect to spend approximately £190 plus vat on instructing the searches required and disbursements of a further £135-£270, depending on whether  the application for registration at Land Registry can be done electronically.
  5. Paul and Garry are selling a leasehold flat for £170000 which is free of mortgage, there is a management company and a freeholder who will need to be communicated with to provide up to date administrative requirements and accounts.  The solicitor will need to discharge all service charge and ground rent and work out the relevant figures.  There are no title problems or complicated matters requiring indemnity insurance.  In this transaction the solicitors’ fee quotation can be expected to be in the region of £995 – £1200 plus vat and disbursements. They should expect to incur a further £12 disbursement for Land Registry title documents.  Sellers also incur estate agency fees of course which are determined by agreement prior to marketing.  Paul and Garry must also budget for administrative costs of the freeholder and management company to provide up to date required documentation and information.
  6. Harriet and April are first time buyers purchasing  25% at £90000 under a shared ownership lease arrangement from the Housing Association.  They will be obtaining a mortgage and are funding the deposit jointly.  The solicitor will need to obtain approval of the mortgage offer and comply with complex Lender Requirements as well as advise on the Stamp Duty Land Tax implications of electing to pay on this transaction or upon final staircasing.  Although Harriet and April are purchasing only a smaller percentage for a lower  value than on the other examples, the shared ownership element will take more time. The solicitors’ fee quotation can be expected in this transaction will be in the region of £1200 plus vat.  Again, they can expect to spend approximately £160 plus vat on instructing the searches required and disbursements which are too difficult to estimate in this transaction as they are dependent on whether Harriet and April elect to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax.  Land Registry Fees and Searches will be payable at approximately £90.00
  7. George and Mildred are remortgaging their freehold house.  They only have one mortgage to pay off and are borrowing the sum of £100000 to do this.  The solicitor is asked to also act for the Bank, but George and Mildred will be expected to meet the Bank’s legal fees.  The  solicitors’ fee quotation which can be expected in this transaction will be in the region of £550-£650 plus vat.  They should budget to spend £160 plus vat instructing searches (thought it may be much less depending on their Bank’s requirements) and £25-£45 on Land Registry searches and registration.

As you can see from the above examples, there are many, many factors which control how complicated and time consuming buying or selling  can be.

It may be useful to have an understanding of the key stages your solicitor will deal with in the course of your transaction:

  • Take your instructions and give you initial advice
  • Carry out identity and anti money laundering checks
  • Receive and advise on contract documents
  • Carry out searches
  • Obtain further planning documentation if required
  • Make any necessary enquiries of seller’s solicitor
  • Give you advice on all documents and information received
  • Go through conditions of mortgage offer
  • Send final contract to you for signature
  • Draft Transfer
  • Take your instructions on joint ownership
  • Obtain pre-completion searches
  • Agree completion date (date from which you own the property)
  • Exchange contracts and notify you that this has happened
  • Arrange for all monies needed to be received from lender and you
  • Complete purchase
  • Deal with payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Deal with application for registration at Land Registry

How long will my house purchase take?

How long it will take from your offer being accepted until you can move in to your house will depend on a number of factors. The average process takes between 6-12 weeks. It can be quicker or slower, depending on the parties in the chain. For example, if you are a first time buyer, purchasing a property with a mortgage in principle and no chain it could take 6 weeks. However, if you are buying a leasehold property that requires an extension of the lease, this can take significantly longer, between 4 and 6months. In such, a situation additional charges would apply and we would confirm those to you before proceeding.

The best thing to do is to obtain a quotation at https://www.kewlaw.co.uk/get-a-quote/. Making sure you answer the questions as completely as possible or give us a ring – we would be delighted to talk you through it.  Remember, only solicitors or firms with the same regulator are obligated  to provide you with this standard of up front clarity, so ensure you read the small print if you obtain quotations from other conveyancing firms not regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

Solicitors in: Solicitors in Halstead, Solicitors in Hadleigh, Solicitors in Chelmsford, Solicitors in Burnham on Crouch, Solicitors in Witham, Solicitors in Wickford, Solicitors in Maldon, Solicitors in Colchester, Solicitors in Braintree and Solicitors in Rayleigh

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