CONVEYANCING

Conveyancing

Conveyancing

Buying and selling property is a big investment – probably one of the largest you will make in your lifetime. Navigating a conveyancing transaction can be overwhelming, whether you are a first-time buyer, selling the family home, or a seasoned investor. We aim to alleviate as much stress as possible during this important time by providing clear communication and expert guidance every step of the way.

What is Residential Conveyancing?

Residential conveyancing is the legal process of transferring land or property from one person or entity to another. Solicitors and licensed conveyancers in the UK generally use the Law Society Conveyancing Protocol and the framework is used as the ‘preferred practice’ for buying and selling homes.

Estate Agents

Many sellers use an estate agent who will value the property and put it on the market. The agent facilitates the physical showing of the property, takes any offers made by potential buyers and presents the offer to the seller to either accept or reject.

Solicitor

A solicitor becomes involved when an offer has been made by a potential buyer and accepted by the seller. Both parties should each instruct their own independent solicitor so there is no conflict of interest.

Initial enquiries

Once instructed, each solicitor will send their new client a client care letter explaining the process and the costs involved, including Stamp Duty and VAT on estate agents fees. Many solicitors offer a flat fee for conveyancing and others an estimate of costs. The solicitor will liaise with the estate agent and mortgage lender and ensure that the purchase is registered with the Land Registry.

The solicitor will advise the buyer that they must pay stamp duty which changed during the Covid pandemic being payable on properties over £500,000. The threshold recently changed back again on 1st July 2021 where buyers must pay 3% on properties over £250,000, 10% on properties over £925,000 and 12% on properties over £1.5 million. First time buyers do not have to pay stamp duty.

The seller’s solicitor will request a copy of the deeds from the seller who may have them at home or at their bank or building society. The solicitor will also enclose a property information form to complete which asks questions about the property, disputes with neighbours, boundary and access issues, planning permission/building consent and any neighbouring proposed/planned development.

The seller should also identify the fixtures and fittings the seller wants to leave in the property and include in the sale, and include arrangements about what will happen upon completion.

The buyer’s solicitor will ask about finances and how a buyer will be raising the money to pay for a purchase and will have checks in place to ensure that money laundering does not occur. They will liaise with the buyer’s mortgage lender to confirm that the funds will be available to purchase the property. The buyer must have the deposit monies (usually 10%) ready before exchange of contracts which is paid to their solicitor’s client account and transferred to the seller’s solicitor upon exchange of contracts. The rest is paid upon completion.

Property searches

The buyer’s solicitor will undertake property searches to flag any areas of concern. The usual searches are of the title, local authority, mining, utilities, environmental, chancery etc. Any issues flagged will be raised with the buyer’s solicitor.

The buyer’s solicitor will also arrange for any required surveys to be carried out. A full building survey by a RICS surveyor is usually recommended, especially for older properties. This will give a full, detailed report on the structure of the property. This will also give the buyer peace of mind that they are making a good investment or show any issues that may prove too costly to move forward with the purchase.

Both parties will negotiate any issues arising from the searches, fixtures and fittings and the surveys, with the aim of reaching an agreement.

Exchange of Contracts

Once the initial stage is complete, the seller’s solicitor will draft the Contract for Sale and send it to the buyer’s solicitor to check and arrange for the buyer to sign. The contract will include dates for completion which is usually a few weeks after exchange of contracts (up to 28 days) but could be sooner or later than that (depending on the circumstances).

The buyer must ensure that they have buildings insurance cover for the property in place before exchange of contracts.

On the day of exchange each solicitor will usually arrange a telephone call during which they each read out the contracts to check they are the same and then post the signed contract to each other. 

The parties are then legally bound to fulfil the contract and with the sale/purchase. If a party pulls out after exchange of contracts they can be sued by the other party.

Completion

On completion day the monies are transferred from the buyer to the seller’s solicitor at an agreed time and the keys exchanged. The seller should vacate the property by the completion date unless otherwise agreed. Both solicitors send their clients a final letter regarding completion and any outstanding client care matters regarding funds etc.

Remortgages

Remortgaging is the legal process of replacing one mortgage with another, using the same property as security. It may involve the same lender, or a completely new one. Some of the reasons why you may remortgage your home include: to secure a better deal, to fix interest rates for a specified period, to reduce your monthly commitments, to consolidate your debts, or to add or remove somebody from an existing mortgage.

Just like the first time you take out a mortgage, it is just as important that you are aware of your legal obligations when remortgaging. You also need to be aware of all fees and changes so you can make an informed decision as to whether remortgaging is in your best interests. We can help with the legal process of your remortgage, review your documents, and explain your rights and responsibilities.

Transfer of equity

A transfer of equity or property transfer is the legal process of adding or removing a person to the title of your property – whether that involves transferring all or part of the equity in your home between the parties. A transfer of equity may be required for various reasons, for example, to reflect a property settlement after the breakdown of a domestic relationship, or to include somebody on your property deed after commencing a new relationship.

While the concept of removing an owner or sharing your property with somebody else may seem simple, there are many factors to consider including whether the transfer will trigger Stamp Duty Land Tax or whether there is an existing mortgage on the property. Retaining a solicitor is important to ensure the process is carried out properly, each party understands their respective legal position, and that any potential issues are flagged.

We have experience with property law in the UK and have represented various buyers, sellers and property developers for all types of conveyancing transactions and property matters. We can:

  • help you understand the issues involved in purchasing or selling property in England and Wales including residential property, vacant land, units, flats and rural land;
  • assist with buying or selling at public auction/private treaty;
  • provide information about the costs involved (including taxes);
  • advise on the terms contained in your contract for sale;
  • negotiate terms and conditions for the sale or purchase of property
  • provide advice on meeting lender requirements;
  • arrange title searches and land enquiries;
  • help with the legal requirements for subdivisions and property developments;
  • provide advice on building contracts;
  • advise on and negotiate neighbourhood disputes including dividing fence disputes;
  • represent you in dispute resolution and at Court.

If you need any assistance, contact one of our lawyers at [email protected] or call (023) 9225 9822 for expert legal advice

Our standard charges

Our standard charges for this type of work are based on a percentage of the purchase or sale price.

Costs on a Purchase

On the purchase of a freehold or leasehold residential property you should budget for the following fees and disbursements (disbursements are costs relating to your matter which are paid by us to third parties on your behalf, for example to the Land Registry).

This firm’s basic charges   

We will charge you for our services an amount equivalent to 0.5% of the purchase price plus VAT (subject to a minimum charge of £1,500 plus VAT). This assumes the matter does  not become unexpectedly complicated or protracted, in such cases additional charges may be due, though these will be explained to you at the earliest opportunity (see below).

Bank and Administration Fees

A bank transfer fee and our administration costs for setting up the bank transfer of £38 plus VAT (per bank transfer.

Conveyancing searches   

Typically around £210.00 (the cost of these searches depends on the third-party providers. Usually the costliest is the Local Authority search, and this varies between local authorities).

Land Registry registration fee       

This fee is charged by the Land Registry is based on the purchase price, and the amount (“Scale 1”) can be see seen here. For example, on the purchase of a freehold house for £500,000 the fee is £270. We will register online (through the Land Registry’s Portal) where possible. Note that when registering new leases, there is no discount for applying to register online.

Land Registry copy documents    

Although usually title documents are to be provided by the seller’s conveyancers, often we need to obtain documents from the Land Registry as well. The cost would not be expected to exceed £50.

Lawyer Checker

Where we do not know the seller’s solicitors, we will carry out an online check against them for your protection. This costs £10.plus vat

Landlord’s notice fee (leasehold only)

Usually when a lease is assigned (purchased) there will be a fee charged by the landlord (usually the freeholder) to give notice of that assignment. That fee depends on the lease but is often between £30 and £200.  There may be a separate fee for notice of charge (mortgage, if you are buying with a mortgage) and that will likely be the same amount again. There also may be a requirement for a deed of covenant with the landlord, and these cost typically £200-£500 plus VAT.

Stamp Duty Land Tax        

You usually pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on increasing portions of the property price when you buy residential property, e.g. a house or flat. If you are buying the name of a company, or if you already own another property anywhere in the world (and are not selling it at the same time as buying the new one) then there will be an additional payment due.SDLT for your purchase can be calculated by using the Revenue & Customs calculator here. (Transactions for properties in Wales are now liable for Land Transaction Tax rather than Stamp Duty Land Tax and the rates are likely to be different and we will calculate these for you when instructed).

Costs on a Sale

On the sale of a freehold or leasehold residential property you should budget for the  following fees and disbursements (disbursements are costs relating to your matter which are paid by us to third parties on your behalf, for example to the Land Registry).

This firm’s basic charges   

We will charge you for our services an amount equivalent to 0.5% of the sale price plus VAT (subject to a minimum charge of £1,500 plus VAT). This assumes the matter is not unexpectedly complicated or protracted, in such cases additional charges may be due, though these will be explained to you at the earliest opportunity (see below).

Bank and Administration Fees      

A bank transfer fee and our administration costs for setting up the bank transfer (per bank transfer) of £40 plus VAT

Land Registry registration fee       

This fee is charged by the Land Registry is based on the purchase price, and the amount (“Scale 1”) can be see seen here. For example, on the purchase of a freehold house for £500,000 the fee is £270. We will register online (through the Land Registry’s Portal) where possible. Note that when registering new leases, there is no discount for applying to register online.

Land Registry copy documents    

We will need to obtain up to date title documents from the Land Registry. This will normally cost £6-£50 depending on whether there is more than one title, and whether there are any leases involved.

Lawyer Checker      

Where we do not know the buyer’s solicitors, we will carry out an online check against them for your protection. This costs £10. Plus vat

Management pack (leasehold only)         

Where you are selling a leasehold property, we will need to write to your landlord (often the freeholder), or their managing agents, to obtain a management pack. This includes detail of the rent, service charge, and building insurance. It also contains replies to some standard questions that the buyer’s conveyancers will require. Even if you have kept good records, this will be necessary. The cost depends on the charge of the landlord or their managing agents. This is typically between £200 and £500, and VAT may be due in addition.

Estate agent’s commission           

Where you are selling though an estate agent, usually their commission will be paid on completion. Unless you have instructed us otherwise, we would normally pay this on your behalf from the proceeds of sale. The figure will depend on what commission you have agreed with the estate agent (and we will not be involved in that).

Redemption of your mortgage      

Where your property has an existing mortgage, this will be redeemed (paid off) by us on completion (there will be a bank transfer fee for doing so). You should ensure you know how much money you will need to pay to redeem, including any early repayment or other closing charges.

Costs when re-mortgaging/mortgaging

On the re-mortgage of your home, you should budget for the following fees and disbursements (disbursements are costs relating to your matter which are paid by us to third parties on your behalf, for example the Land Registry).

This firm’s basic charges   

We will charge you for our services can be found on our website, when requesting and Online Quote this includes all fees and disbursements payable. This assumes the matter is not unexpectedly complicated or protracted, in such cases additional charges may be due, though these will be explained to you at the earliest opportunity (see below).

Bank and Administration Fees      

A bank transfer fee and our administration costs for setting up the bank transfer (per bank transfer) of £40 plus VAT

Management pack (leasehold only)         

Where you are re-mortgaging a leasehold property, we will need to write to your landlord (often the freeholder), or their managing agents to obtain a management pack. This includes details of the rent, service charge, and building insurance. It also contains replies to some standard questions. Even if you have kept good records, this will be necessary. The cost depends on the charge of the landlord or their managing agents. This is typically between £200 and £500 and VAT may be due in addition.

Redemption of your mortgage      

Where your property has an existing mortgage, this will be redeemed (paid off) by us on completion (there will be a bank transfer fee for doing so). You should ensure you know how much money you will need to pay to redeem, including any early repayment or other closing charges.

Landlord’s notice fee (leasehold only)     

For a leasehold property, it is likely we will need to give your landlord notice of the new mortgage and they usually charge a fee.  That fee depends on the particular lease, but is often between £30 and £200.