Our services have been specifically and carefully designed to ensure that you receive a high-quality home moving service that is simple and hassle-free.
We offer a comprehensive conveyancing service to help you with all the legal processes involved with home moving. Our panel of solicitors will take care of this side of the move, liaising between all parties regularly to ensure that the transaction is progressed as quickly as possible.
We understand the importance involved when choosing the right solicitor to oversee your home move. The legalities of the move is one of the most stressful and time-consuming parts of any property transaction and that is why we work with a national panel of solicitors to provide you with the best conveyancing service available.
We will help you choose the most appropriate solicitor dependant upon your own requirements. These may be cost-based, you may find parking facilities very important or it could be that online access is essential to you. We know and work closely with many practices and can, therefore, help you make the most suitable choice of solicitor.
Guide to Conveyancing
To help you understand the legal process that occurs in a property transaction we have provided you with a step by step guide, as seen below:
Step by step guide
Completion of your move
On the day of legal completion, your solicitor will:
Payment of fees
Prior to legal completion, your solicitor will require any monies due to them to be cleared funds in time for legal completion. They will deduct their fees and disbursement costs and stamp duty from the balance at legal completion. Finally, you will liaise with your agent for the release of the keys to the property.
How long will it take?
Conveyancing is one of the most time-consuming aspects of any home move. If the property is empty and the buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can be completed within a few days. However, this is very unusual and it is more likely a mortgage will need to be approved and there will be a chain of transactions to contend with. If this is the case, then it usually takes 4-6 weeks to exchange contracts and then another 2-4 week between the exchange of contracts and completion. This makes the process a total of 6-10 from start to finish. We understand the pressured time-scales involved in property transactions and we do all we can to progress the transaction as quickly as possible.
How soon do I need to pay any money?
If you are buying a property, your solicitor will usually ask you for approximately £125.00 at the beginning to cover the search fees that will be paid out on your behalf. The balance of the price and the solicitor’s cost, as well as any additional charges, will be payable shortly before completion of the deal. If you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price then you may be required to pay prior to the exchange of contracts.
If you are selling then you should not need to pay any money in advance. The costs and agent fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you.
Do I need a survey?
If you are obtaining a mortgage, a valuer will inspect the property on behalf of the lender. Although his report should give you an indication as to whether he thinks the property is worth the amount that you have asked to borrow, it will probably not be a reliable source if things went wrong. For an additional fee, you will usually be offered the option to arrange for the same valuer to carry out a more detailed ‘Home Buyers Report’. This can be relied on if, at some later date, you discover a problem not mentioned in the report that you wish to take up with the valuer.
If the property is quite old and you are particularly concerned with its condition, you can always obtain a full structural report that is much more detailed.
There is a golden rule when it comes to this – “let the buyer beware” so, provided you have not been misled, you will be the one liable for any problems you discover after the exchange of contracts.
How much deposit will I need?
It is normal for a deposit to be paid on exchange of contracts. If you are buying and selling, we can usually use your buyer's deposit in connection with your purchase so you will not have to find anything. If you are just buying, the amount of the deposit will usually depend upon the size of your mortgage (if any). If it is less than 90%, you will usually need to find 10% but if you are borrowing more than this, we can often persuade the seller to accept whatever amount you are putting in or even just the amount of our costs and disbursements - only if you are borrowing 100%.
If I have any questions, should I ask the Agent or the Solicitor?
If you have any questions regarding the legal aspect of moving, we recommend speaking to your Conveyancer. However, your agent will also be aware of how the sale or purchase is proceeding and should be able to cover any general queries you have.
Can I exchange contracts before I receive my mortgage offer?
If for any reason the mortgage offer is declined or delayed or it contains any conditions that you cannot comply with, the money may not be available when required so it would be extremely dangerous to exchange contracts without it and any competent solicitor would strongly advise you not to do so.
When do I need to arrange buildings insurance?
Unless the building insurance is being arranged by your lender or it is a leasehold property and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder, you must arrange buildings insurance from the exchange of contracts as the property will be at your risk from that time. The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of rebuilding the property if it burns to the ground which is not necessarily the same as the current market value. If you had a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage, your surveyor or the lender's valuer will usually have suggested a minimum amount of cover in their report.
What happens with the keys?
These are usually left with the estate agents (if any) and the buyer collects them once the money has been paid over on the day of completion. If there are no estate agents (or this is not convenient), the seller will hand them directly to the buyer. Either way, it is important that arrangements are made in advance to prevent the possibility of the buyer having to wait outside with the removal van! Although your solicitor will always try to ensure that everything is finalised as early as possible on the day of completion - and usually this is dealt with by midday - there can sometimes be a delay if, for example, your solicitor is still waiting for the mortgage monies to arrive or there is a particularly long chain. If this happens, please don't panic or become upset because your solicitor will invariably resolve the problem by early afternoon - if not sooner!
Conveyancing Jargon Buster
We have compiled a short list of property terms to help assist you with the buying process:
Chain: This is the sequence of buyers and sellers – most people who sell their property are also buying at the same time. Therefore there can be a chain of a number of sellers, which depend on each other for the sale and purchase of their new properties. For example, if one buyer or seller drops out, the chain may collapse, whereby the paperwork for the properties within the chain is delayed or cancelled.
Chain Free: This is when the owner of the property does not need to sell the property in order to buy another; therefore it is offered as chain free.
Completion Date: The date when the transaction (either the sale or purchase of a property) is completed, i.e. the date you become the owner.
Completion Statement: A statement from the solicitor detailing all financial transactions, including all costs.
Conditions of Sale: The terms by which the buyer and seller agree to sell/buy the property. The Law Society sets standard conditions. The lawyer sets special conditions.
Contract: The legally binding agreement specifying details of the house sale or house purchase. The contract legally commits both the buyer and the seller to the transaction. The house seller's conveyancing lawyer draws up two copies of the same contract and each party signs their own copy. When both parties are ready to legally commit, the two contracts are exchanged.
Conveyancer: The property lawyer who manages all of the matters arising from the sale of a house or the purchase of a house. Can be a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.
Conveyance or Transfer: The legally binding document that transfers the rights, burdens and the benefit of the land.
Council for Licensed Conveyancers: A regulatory body for conveyancing with whom all conveyancers should be registered.
Deeds: Legal title document which provides historical information about the property.
Deposit: The amount paid to exchange contracts which is only refundable in exceptional circumstances. Contracts provide for 10% of the purchase/sale price but can often be negotiated to a lower level.
Disbursements: Out-of-pocket expenses paid by the solicitor/licensed conveyancer on the buyer's behalf, such as stamp duty, land registry charges and search fees.
Easement: A right given to the house owner over an adjoining property (e.g. right of way).
EPC: Energy performance certificate.
Equity: This is what you actually own – the difference between the market value of your property and the amount of the loan you still owe to your lender.
Exchange of Contract: The point that both parties are committed to the transaction.
Fixtures and Fittings: A list of the items at the property, which are either included or excluded from the agreed price.
Flexible Mortgage: Mortgages that are flexible in terms of how you pay the loan back.
Freehold: One of the two current tenures of land recognised by English law. This recognises the whole of the land, not just a building.
FCA: The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is an independent body concerned with consumer protection in the financial market.
Gazumping: When the house seller accepts a higher price offer from another house buyer after the initial offer has been accepted.
Indemnity Insurance: An insurance taken out by conveyancing firms to cover losses to clients arising from errors or fraud in dealing with their matters.
Land Registry Fees: Fees paid by your conveyancing lawyer on the buyer's behalf to register the ownership of property with the Land Registry.
Land Registry: A government office that stores records of land ownership and any charges, like a mortgage.
Leasehold: The second current tenure of land recognised by English law. This is over a term of years and not unlimited. There will be a Landlord who will own the freehold. This usually relates to a flat or apartment.
Licensed Conveyancer: A licensed conveyancer is a specialist property lawyer, someone who is trained and qualified in all aspects of the law dealing with property. Licensed conveyancers are sufficient to secure adequate protection for consumers and that the conveyancing services provided by such persons are provided both economically and efficiently.
Mortgage Deed: The legal agreement that gives the lender a legal right to property.
Mortgage Fees: Normally charged by your financial advisor, for acting on behalf of your bank or building society.
Redemption Fee: An Early Repayment Charge which can be charged by your existing mortgage lender if you pay off your mortgage early or you move to a different mortgage.
Searches: A method of checking matters that may affect the value of the property. The only obligatory one before the exchange is a Local Authority Search which covers items such as road maintenance and planning applications. The search covers the property, not the surrounding area.
Stamp Duty: A government tax payable by every home buyer when purchasing a property over £125,000. Duty is charged at 1% for homes priced between £125,001 and £250,000. The rate is 3% for homes between £250,001 and £500,000. For homes over £500,000, the rate is 4%. And for properties above £1,000,000 5%. If the property is being sold for less than £125,000, no stamp duty is payment is required. First-time buyers can secure a two-year temporary stamp duty relief up to £250,000, from 25 March 2010.
Survey: A report produced by a building surveyor for the purpose of determining the value of the property and if it is structurally sound.
Subject to Contract: A provisional agreement between the house buyer and the house seller that is not legally binding.
Transfer Document: The final document that transfers the property from the house seller to the house buyer.
Valuation Survey: A survey to allow a property value to be determined for mortgage purposes. This is not to be confused with a structural survey.
White Hot Property: A property that has been acquired by a developer or financial institution as part of a part-exchange, repossession or probate transaction and is priced to achieve a quick sale.
How is an EPC presented?
The EPC displays two graphs. With the first including an energy rating, which measures the home's overall efficiency. If a property receives a high rating then it is more energy-efficient and this means that the energy bills are likely to cost less.
An environmental impact rating is displayed on the second graph. This measures the impact on the environment and the emissions from carbon dioxide. This rating will provide a list of cost-effective measures and the potential rating of the building if these are installed.
Who orders the EPC?
The responsibility of ordering the EPC is with the seller and you will have seven days to receive it after putting your home on the market. As long as it has been ordered, the EPC does not need to be available when you first start marketing your property.
If you need any more help with the necessary documents behind your home move then contact us today and talk to a trained member of staff.
Important changes to EPC regulations
Important changes to EPC regulations will come into action from 6 April 2012.
These changes mean that EPCs will now be required for all residential and non-residential property offered for sale or rent. Moving forward, it will also be a requirement to attach the front page of the EPC to the property particulars in its entirety, rather than just the graph as was formerly the case.
Furthermore, using reasonable effort an EPC will have to be secured within seven days rather than the previous 28 days.
If you require any further information on EPCs, please contact us and we will be happy to help.
We realise that in this current economic climate your mortgage is one of the most important aspects of the property transaction. You need a mortgage that is tailored to your lifestyle and income so that you are not burdened with excessive financial pressure.
The service we provide enables you to compare a wide range of independent mortgage providers to find the package that best suits your individual situation.
The importance of a well-structured mortgage plan cannot be underestimated; if you do not keep up with repayments on your mortgage then legal action is swiftly carried out. We are not a bank or advisor so the information we collect is not your application for credit or mortgage loan. However, our preferred partners are keen to receive your information and provide the best mortgage plan suited to you.
Types of Mortgages
Getting the right type of mortgage is a vital aspect when buying your new property. There are many different types of mortgages available on the market for you to get your head round.
Each lender sets their own SVR so they can vary considerably. Generally, this means that if the Bank of England puts the interest rate up or down, your Standard Variable Rate (SVR) will almost certainly follow, though not necessarily simultaneously. If rates go down, you'll save. If rates go up, so will your repayments - so you need to build some flexibility into your budget if you decide to go for this type of mortgage. The main reason someone may consider this type of scheme is to avoid any early repayment charges if they do not anticipate having the mortgage for long.
This type of mortgage sets the rate you pay below the lender's SVR for a set period, for example, two years or three years. If your discount is two per cent, when the SVR is seven per cent then your mortgage rate will be five per cent. If the SVR rises by one percent, your rate also rises by one percent. At the end of the discounted term, repayments go back to the SVR.
This mortgage follows the interest base rate as set by the Bank of England. It usually stays a set amount above or below this rate for the period of the loan. Some longer-term trackers also offer an initial discount. The benefit of a tracker, as opposed to a discount from the lender's SVR, is that if the Bank of England reduce the base rate then your rate will reduce simultaneously, whereas if you are discounted from the lender's SVR, there is no guarantee if, when and by how much the lender will follow suit, as they are not obliged to do anything. Tracker mortgages remove this conflict between you and the lender.
A fixed rate mortgage is a way of guaranteeing your payments for a set number of years. This means that whatever happens to the Bank of England base rate or the lender's SVR, your payments remain the same. If rates go up you will be better off and if rates go down you could be worse off, but the main benefit is you know what you need to pay each month and can more easily budget for it. Fixed rates can be from one year to the whole mortgage term. Generally, shorter term fixed rates are lower and more attractive, so shorter term rates of two to five years are the most popular.
Types of Insurance
Along with different mortgage types, there are also varying types of insurance policies available as protection for your mortgage. Insuring yourself against possible accidents or illnesses ensures that you do not leave your family lumbered with repayments if you are not around.
Decreasing Term Assurance Plans provide life cover which decreases roughly in line with the reduction of your outstanding mortgage. Whilst you might expect the mortgage to be repaid in the event of your death, in some cases the lump sum is not enough to repay the mortgage in full. However, these types of insurance plan mean that you do not have to pay for more protection than you actually require.
Level Term Assurance Plans are simple, low-cost arrangements that provide life cover for the agreed lump sum, during the agreed term.
Critical Illness Cover:
Many of us take out insurance for our mortgages in case we die, but few of us cover against if we suffered critical illness or disability.
Critical Illness cover is designed carefully to provide a lump sum on death or diagnosis of any critical condition as defined under the terms of the policy. This means that money will be available at a time when a critical condition or disability may affect your financial position or ability to earn.
Income Protection Benefit provides a monthly benefit should you be unable to work due to incapacity caused by accident or illness, resulting in a loss of earnings. This allows you a degree of financial stability until you recover and return to work, no longer suffer a loss of earnings, in the event of your death or until the policy expires.
The level of weekly benefit proposed for Income Protection policy is based on your current earned income. The amount that might actually be paid in the event of a claim is affected by two things. Firstly, the amount of any increase in income and secondly, your entitlement to the Incapacity Benefit paid by the State
Buildings and Contents Protection:
Our buildings and content protection are designed to cover your home and the possessions within it for almost any eventuality.
The insurance of the property against major damage such as fire and other risks will normally be a condition of your mortgage lender. In addition to your bricks and mortar, the contents of your house are extremely valuable and this type of protection ensures that, in the case of any accident, you are not left paying the price for your uninsured contents.
We can help sell your home and even help find you a new one. Our staff are here to help!