Conveyancing FAQs

We've been around a long time, and been asked many questions. Find the answers to the most common questions below.

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Buying your first home:

What is a conveyancer?

A conveyancer, also known as a property lawyer or property solicitor, is a legal professional who completes all legal work when buying a house.

What does a conveyancer do for property purchases?

When buying property a conveyancer will arrange conveyancing searches, write up your contract, arrange an exchange and completion date with the seller and deal with the transfer of funds.

What's the difference between leasehold and freehold?

These terms relate to the type of ownership the property is being sold with. A freehold property means that you own both the building itself and the land it’s on – it’s most common with a standard house purchase. Buying a leasehold means that you just have a lease from the freeholder – sometimes called the landlord – to use the property for several years. It’s most common if purchasing a flat.

What is Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and do I need to pay it?

SDLT is a government tax on property purchases, over certain price brackets, as a first-time buyer the property price bracket to start paying Stamp Duty is higher. Therefore, as long as you and anyone you’re buying with, are first-time buyers, you will pay 0% SDLT on the first £425,000 of the purchase price and 5% on the remainder up to £625,000.

How long does conveyancing take?

As a rough guide, you should be looking at around 16-20 weeks. However, if you’re involved in a chain, it’s not uncommon for the conveyancing process to take up to six months. Your conveyancer will give you a more accurate estimate once instructed, so be sure to ask them.

What documents will I need?

Initially you will need to provide proof of ID, such as a passport or driving licence, and proof of residence in the form of a bank statement/utility bill. You’ll also need a statement to say how much your mortgage provider will lend you.

What are conveyancing searches?

Conveyancing searches are enquiries made by your conveyancer when buying a house. There are multiple searches you will need, and they look for different issues in the local area or with the property that may impact your purchase.

What are surveys?

When buying a house, your mortgage provider will carry out a valuation survey to check they’re willing to lend the amount requested. Once your offer is accepted, you can also arrange a homebuyer survey, which is a detailed inspection carried out on the property.

What Help to Buy schemes are there?

There are various Help to Buy schemes available for first-time buyers who are looking to get on the property ladder. These include 5% deposits, shared ownership schemes, Lifetime ISAs, Help to Build and the Deposit Unlock scheme.

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Buying a second home or an investment property:

Do I have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)?

Yes, you will have to pay stamp duty when buying an additional property, you have a 3% surcharge on top of the usual SDLT.

How are buy-to-let mortgages different?

Mortgages for buy-to-let properties are riskier for lenders, therefore they tend to charge higher fees than on a regular mortgage. Interest rates are also higher, while you’ll also be expected to put down a higher deposit.

How much deposit will I need for a buy-to-let?

The minimum deposit is usually 25% of the property’s value, although this can vary between 20 and 40% with different lenders

Selling a house:

What costs are involved when selling a house?

The main costs when you sell a house are estate agent and conveyancing fees.

How long does it take to sell a house?

The timescale for the selling process varies, but providing everything goes relatively smoothly, you can expect it to take 12-14 weeks.

What documents will I need for my house sale?

Initially you will need to provide proof of ID, such as a passport or driving licence and proof of residence in the form of a bank statement/utility bill. You will also need a redemption statement from your mortgage provider to find out the outstanding amount.

Do I need an energy performance certificate (EPC)?

It’s a legal requirement to provide your potential buyer with an EPC within seven days of putting your house on the market.

Moving home:

What’s the benefit of using the same conveyancer for my purchase and sale?

By using the same conveyancer, you reduce the number of parties involved. The same systems, processes and timetables will be applied, likely saving time along the way.

Should I sell my house before buying another?

This method can be less stressful and put you in a strong position as a buyer. However, you can make an offer on a property even if yours is on the market.

Should I avoid a chain when buying and selling?

Although operating without a chain is the most desirable way to buy and sell, it’s often unavoidable.

Do you need a deposit when buying and selling a house?

Every house purchase requires a deposit at exchange, however if you’re buying and selling at the same time, your buyer’s deposit usually covers this. The deposit received from your purchaser is passed on to your seller, and the same will happen all the way along the chain.

Remortgaging:

How early can you remortgage?

You can secure a new deal six months in advance of your current mortgage term ending.

How long does remortgaging take?

Remortgaging typically takes between four and eight weeks, although it could be less if you’re staying with your current lender. To avoid moving onto a standard variable rate (SVR), you’ll need your new mortgage to align with the end of your current deal.

Can I get a remortgage with a different lender?

Yes, if you’ve found a cheaper, more flexible deal, you can switch to a different lender. But note that you might have to pay fees if your current deal hasn’t come to an end.

Why do I need to remortgage when transferring equity?

If you’re making changes to the title of deeds with the Land Registry, you will need to remortgage, as your mortgage lender will need to consent to the changes and update the mortgage with the new details.

Transferring equity:

What is transfer of equity?

A transfer of equity occurs when a property’s owner adds or removes a person (or people) to or from the title on the home, altering the ‘ownership’ of the property from a legal perspective.

Why do I need a conveyancer when transferring equity?

Due to the amount of legal work involved, it’s recommended you appoint a conveyancer to complete this work on your behalf and help push your transfer through.

Why do I need to remortgage when transferring equity?

If you’re making changes to the title of deeds with the Land Registry, you will need to remortgage, as your mortgage lender will need to consent to the changes and update the mortgage with the new details.

Costs:

What’s included in my fees?

Our quotes include legal fees – which are paid to your conveyancer for dealing with the legal process of your purchase – and disbursements. These are the costs your conveyancer will have to pay out on your behalf to third parties and include conveyancing searches, Land Registry Registration Services, money laundering checks and leasehold fees.

Are there any additional fees?

You may see an expedition fee temporarily added to your financial statement however, it is only payable if completion takes place within three working days of exchange of contracts. This fee will be automatically removed, and you will not be charged if there are more than three working days between your exchange and completion.

What is the Fraud Protection and Confirmation of Sale fee on my financial statement?

  • The Fraud Protection service notifies you of any changes to your property and prevents any changes from being made without proper ID checks with a solicitor/conveyancer.

  • Confirmation of Sale tracks and keeps you informed of your buyer’s application for transfer of ownership with HM Land Registry.

These services provide essential protection against the threat of fraud and come at an additional cost. As these are for your benefit the cost is added to your financial statement. You can opt out of these services, however they are highly recommended.

Please speak to your conveyancer to understand the benefits and risks of opting out.

Contact

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If you would like to discuss a quotation you have received please call our Move Specialists on

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