Conveyancing FAQ

1. How long will it take to buy/sell my house?
This varies between transactions, but on average, it takes between 6 and 8 weeks from when you instruct your solicitor to when the transaction completes. However, where there is no chain and no mortgage problems, the process could be quicker, and where there is a long chain of transactions and complicated issues involved, it could take longer!

2. What is a conveyancing “chain”?
Usually when people are selling a home, they want to buy another one at the same time. This gives rise to a situation where each transaction is dependent on another and contracts on all of them must be exchanged simultaneously. Invariably, the progress of the chain is determined by the slowest link.

3. When should I apply for a mortgage?
We recommend that you at least obtain a mortgage in principle from a number of lenders before you start to view properties. This will help you focus on properties within your budget and will help speed up the process. The Seller is more likely to accept your offer if they know you already have a mortgage in principle.

4. Do I need to have a survey?
Your mortgage lender (if you require a mortgage) will require a valuation of the property. However as the valuation report is for the lenders benefit not yours, we recommend you have an independent survey carried out.

5. When should I instruct my solicitor?
If you are selling instruct solicitors prior to putting the property on the market and if buying, instruct your solicitors before you make an offer as the Estate Agents will want your solicitor’s details when your offer is accepted.

6. What is the difference between exchange and completion?
When contracts are exchanged, it means both the Seller and Buyer are committed to proceed with the transaction. If any pulls out at this stage, the other might be entitled to compensation. Prior to exchange of contracts, any of the parties can withdraw. Completion is when the full purchase/sale price is paid, the Seller moves out of the property and the Buyer moves in.

7. Can I exchange Contracts and complete on the same day?
Although this is possible, it is not advisable simply because of the many formalities that usually need to be dealt with between exchange and completion. Also it means the parties involved would be making removal and other arrangements without the certainty of a binding contract.

8. What is a contract race?
Sometimes a Seller offers the property to more than one buyer usually on the basis that the first one to exchange contracts gets the property. The Seller is obliged to inform the parties concerned if contracts have gone out to more than one Buyer. If you lose out on a contract race you cannot claim your lost expenses from the Seller.

9. Do I need a local search?
If you are buying with the aid of a mortgage, the lender will require one to be carried out. In any event we always recommend one. The local search is a set of standard enquires raised with the Local Authority. The local authority holds records relating to the area and the property and the search reveals things like responsibility for road repairs and the planning history of the property. Please note however that the search does not reveal everything about the property or neighbourhood.

10. I am buying a new property and have been given 28 days to exchange contracts. Is this possible?
Yes. In such cases, the Builder’s solicitors will usually pre-package legal work and you will usually be allowed to exchange conditionally upon receipt of a mortgage offer or the sale of your own property.

11. What if I don’t have a 10% deposit when I exchange?
It is usual for Sellers to agree to contracts being exchanged with less than a 10%. Where you are selling and buying simultaneously, the deposit being paid by the purchaser of your existing property can very often be utilised as the deposit on your purchase transaction.

12. When should I arrange for buildings insurance?
Usually the contract would provide that you insure the property from the date contracts are exchanged. Your solicitors should advice you of the exact date insurance should commence.

13. The property is vacant. Can I have access before completion?
Prior to completion, you can only have access to the property after special arrangements have been negotiated with the Seller through his Solicitors.

14. Can I stay in my property after completion?
No. You must vacate and clear the property of all your belongings on the day of completion as the contract would usually state that you are giving vacant possession on completion. The Buyer may sue you otherwise.

15. Do I have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax?
If the purchase price of the property is above a certain amount (at present £120,000.00) you will have to pay Stamp Duty Land unless your property is exempt. Your Solicitor will advice you if this is the case.

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