What We Do

Purchases - Frequently Asked Questions

How long will it take to complete my transaction?

This is usually the first question which is asked and is difficult to answer as all transactions are different.

A usual estimate for a transaction involving a mortgage would be 4-6 weeks to exchange contracts and a further 1-2 weeks to complete.

We will do what we can to complete your transaction as quickly as possible.

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How do you keep me informed?

We will endeavour to keep you informed at all stages of the progress of your transaction.

If at any time you have any queries then please do not hesitate to telephone or email your conveyancer. Their contact details will be contained within your initial letter.

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Why do I have to provide my identification documents?

We are required under Money Laundering Regulations to verify your identity to guard against money laundering and fraud.

Where you are purchasing with a mortgage we are also required to verify identity as part of our instructions.

The Land Registry also requires us to verify identity.

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What searches do you undertake?

We will usually carry out the following searches prior to exchanging contracts:

  • A Local Authority Search of the local land charges registers. This includes responses to a number of questions and among other things will reveal the properties planning history and whether the road on which the property sits is a public highway.
  • A Drainage and Water Search which reveals whether the property is connected to mains water and drainage.
  • An Environmental Search which reveals whether records show the property is potentially contaminated land.

Depending on the nature and location of the property we may also carry out other searches such as a search to reveal whether the property has a potential liability to contribute towards maintenance costs of the local church chancel or a coal mining search.

Prior to completion we will carry out a search at the Land Registry to ensure that nothing has altered with the title and to ensure that any application we will be making to register the transaction has priority over any other potential transactions.

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Do I have to complete on a Friday?

Friday’s are the traditional day to complete and the majority of transactions do still complete on a Friday. This is because it allows people to unpack over the weekend.

We can complete a transaction on any working day. Transactions cannot complete at the weekend or on bank holidays as we need the bank to be open to transfer funds.

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Can I access the Property before we complete?

In many cases a purchaser asks for access to a property before completion. If this is to measure for carpets and curtains then this can often be arranged with the Estate Agent or direct with the seller.

In cases where a property is empty you may want access to begin decoration or other work. We can ask for such access although the seller has no duty to give access prior to completion. In any event it is unlikely and would not be our advice to either party for access to be granted before exchange of contracts.

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If the other party decides to withdraw from the transaction, can I get compensation?

Until contracts are exchanged either party can withdraw from the transaction, without giving a reason.

If a party withdraws following exchange of contracts and before completion then compensation may be available.

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How much deposit do I have to pay?

A seller will typically expect a deposit of 10% of the purchase price to be paid on exchange of contracts. However in many cases a lesser deposit will be agreed.

Where a transaction is part of a chain of transactions typically the deposit which is used will be the deposit coming up from the bottom of the chain which will be passed up the chain.

Where a deposit of less than 10% is accepted then if a buyer fails to complete on time they will be liable immediately for the balance of the 10%.

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When is the deposit payable?

The deposit which is agreed is payable on exchange of contracts.

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Is the transaction legally binding when I sign the contract?

The transaction does not become legally binding until we exchange contract.

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What happens when you exchange contracts?

Exchange of contracts typically occurs when the solicitors for each party agree over the telephone to date the documents. This makes the transaction legally binding and means that a party who fails to complete will be liable for breach of contract.

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I am purchasing with a mortgage and I understand that you are also acting for my mortgage lender. Does this create a conflict of interests?

In the majority of cases your mortgage lender will be happy to instruct us to act for them as well as for you in the transaction. This saves time and money as work is not duplicated.

In these cases we are obliged to report to your lender. However if there is a conflict of interest which arises then we would cease to act for your lender.

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Do I need a survey?

We always recommend that a survey is carried out.

If you are purchasing with a mortgage then the lender will arrange for a valuation to be carried out. We do not recommend that you rely on this, as such a report does not consider the condition of the property.

It is possible to obtain a more detailed Home Survey and Valuation Report or for older properties a full building survey. These can often be carried out by the same surveyor for an additional fee.

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Why do people who will occupy the property have to sign an occupier’s consent form?

This will usually be a requirement where there is a mortgage and there will be adult occupiers of the property who are not owners of the property.

This will be a requirement of your lender as it is possible for occupiers to obtain rights in a  property. By signing the consent they are confirming that if you default on the mortgage they will vacate the property. They may be required to seek independent legal advice before signing the consent.

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What is Stamp Duty Land Tax?

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is the tax payable on all land transactions which exceed the thresholds.

We will confirm the tax payable on your transaction at the outset.

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What is the difference between registered and unregistered land?

Since 1925 there has been a gradual process of Land Registration in the UK.

The majority of residential properties are now registered at the Land Registry which means that we can obtain copies of the deeds online. However a minority of properties which have not been sold for some time are still unregistered. These properties will have paper deeds which may be held by a mortgage lender, solicitors or by the property owner. For these properties the deeds will need to be obtained and will be submitted to the Land Registry for compulsory registration on completion of the transaction.

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What is the difference between freehold and leasehold properties?

Broadly speaking the majority of houses are sold freehold and the majority of flats are sold leasehold.

The freehold of a property is the ownership of the land itself.

If you are purchasing a residential leasehold property then you will become the tenant of the property under  a new lease or you will purchase the remainder of an existing lease. The Landlord of this lease will own the freehold.

These leases will be long term. They will have been granted originally for a term which could be anything from 99 to 999 years.

In the case of flats it is usual for title to be leasehold as this allows the Landlord to maintain responsibility for the building as a whole.

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When purchasing as joint owners can we purchase in unequal shares?

Where you purchase a property in joint names it is possible to purchase in two ways.

If you purchase the property as Joint Tenants then, in the event of the death of one owner, the remaining owner or owners receive the deceased’s share automatically.  Thus if a husband and wife own the property as Beneficial Joint Tenants, as is normally the case, and one of them dies then the survivor automatically becomes the sole owner of the property. This occurs regardless of what the deceased’s will states.

If you purchase as Tenants in Common then each party will have a distinct share of the property which can be passed through their will.

A tenancy in common can be in equal shares or if the shares are not to be unequal we can prepare a Declaration of Trust to confirm how the sale proceeds will be divided.

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What happens if I am purchasing a new house which is not yet built?

Where a developer is selling a property which is not yet built they will usually require a quick exchange of contracts. Completion will be on short notice once the property is completed, normally 10 working days but could be less.

You should stay in touch with the developer to monitor the building.

Where you are purchasing with a mortgage it is important to ensure that your mortgage offer is in place prior to exchange of contracts and that this does not expire before completion.

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What happens on completion?

When we have finalised a completion date we will prepare a completion statement and advise you whether we require any funds from you to complete.

Where you are selling we will obtain a redemption figure for your existing account and obtain an invoice for any Estate Agents fees.

Where you are purchasing we will request the mortgage funds.

If we require any funds from you to complete these will need to be in our account in cleared funds no later than the day before completion.

Completion itself is a transfer of funds. We will advise you once this has been completed and where you are purchasing we will advise you that the keys are available to be collected.

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What happens to my deeds following completion?

Following completion your transaction will be registered at the Land Registry. The Land Registry should keep copies of all necessary documents of title and therefore in the majority of cases anything required for a future sale can be obtained from them.

We will provide you with a copy of the completed Land registry entries following completion. We will also forward to you any original deeds and documents which we receive. You should keep these in a safe place as they may still come in useful for future transactions.

If you would like to discuss a potential matter or would like any further information then please contact one of our team using the details shown on this page.

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