The Legal House Frequently Asked Questions

What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the term used to describe the legal and administrative work carried out when transferring the ownership of buildings or land from one owner to another. Only when an offer has been made and accepted for a property, and both parties solicitors' details have been exchanged can the conveyancing process begin.

How long will it take?

If you are buying an empty house and you have no sale then the speed of the transaction will only depend on how quickly you can get your mortgage and how quickly information is supplied by the other side. As soon as you have a chain, the speed will also depend on the same factors for every party in the chain, and the whole chain will only be as quick as the slowest of them.

As a guideline we would suggest that you expect a period of 6-8 weeks but will always try to work to your requirements regarding completion dates.

What is a "Chain"?

People usually decide to buy and sell simultaneously, to avoid the cost of owning two houses. A number of linked transactions arise, each dependent on the other and exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously in all transactions. The result is that the speed of progress is dictated by the slowest link in the chain, hence the saying “any chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

Do I have to come into the office to see my Conveyancer?

We appreciate that we all lead busy lives these days and there is no need for you to come into the office. You are welcome to come in if you wish to, but all correspondence can take place via post, fax, email and SMS messages.

I don't live near your Conveyancing Office will this slow things down?

In reality, if not done on-line, nearly all works relating to a conveyance are dealt with by letter regardless of your location. The only part of the process that is different is when it comes to signing contracts or mortgage deeds. Traditionally this is done by visiting your conveyancer, who would explain points to you personally prior to signing. However, this method has potential pitfalls in itself. In reality the majority of clients will, when seeing their conveyancer face to face, not even read the documents in question before signing, relying on the prudence of their conveyancer to point out what they consider to be the most important points. When something has only been explained verbally, the majority of what has been said will typically be forgotten within a very short space of time.

When forwarding documents by post for vetting and signature, we will send you hard copies of the legal documents for your signature, a report on your purchase, if you are buying, and copies of any supporting documents. This gives you the opportunity to read the documents at your leisure and discuss any questions raised or concerns with us over the phone. We will also guarantee that all forms sent to you for your signature are done so as soon as possible, giving you ample time to read the information and return the documents to us.

Can The Legal House act for the seller and buyer?

We cannot act for both parties. However we work closely with another firm of lawyers who provide an excellent service and will be happy to obtain a quotation for you should this situation arise.

When can I book my removals?

It is best to avoid booking your removals until after contracts have been exchanged. Before exchange, the moving date is not definite and you may end up losing money if it changes after you make your booking

What Is Exchange Of Contracts?

In a property transaction a draft Contract is prepared by the Sellers Conveyancer and sent to the Buyers Conveyancer for approval. The Contract will include details of the legal title to the property, a list of Fixtures and Fittings which are included in the sale and any special conditions relevant to the property. The Buyers Conveyancers will then check the legal title and carry out preliminary searches and enquiries. Once they are satisfied that all is in order the Buyer and Seller both individually sign a copy of the Contract and the two parts are then literally exchanged between the two Conveyancers. This is done between the conveyancers over the telephone and you do not need to be present. At that point the Contract becomes legally binding, the completion date is fixed and neither party can withdraw from the transaction without incurring a financial penalty.

How much deposit do i need?

If you are buying, the amount of the deposit will usually depend upon the size of your mortgage. If it is less than 90% then 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%. The deposit is a matter of negotiation and you can also usually use any deposit you receive on a sale as part payment of your deposit on the purchase.

When do I pay my deposit?

We will ask for your deposit money before Contracts are exchanged. The deposit will have to be cleared before we can exchange Contracts so payment by Bank transfer will save time and is the preferred method of payment. We will advise you of the exact amount required and provide you with our Bank details at the appropriate time.

What Is A "Local Search"?

A Local Search is a formal investigation (or check) of the Local Land Charges Registers held by the Local Authority. The Search will disclose any new roads being planned near the property you are purchasing. It will reveal details of any past planning permissions or refusals for extensions, alterations etc. It will advise whether the roadway serving the property is an adopted highway and maintained by the Local Council and much other useful information. If you are having a Mortgage it is an essential requirement and even if you are not it is always strongly recommended that a Local Search is carried out on your behalf in any property purchase.

When do I need to insure my new property?

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 before exchange of contracts as the property will be at risk from the moment you exchange. The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building 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 on the day of completion?

The completion day is the day you move and the day all money is transferred to buy and or sell the property. On the day of completion you will need to aim to move out of the house you are selling by lunchtime and into your new home during the afternoon. If there is a long chain you may find there is a delay whilst the monies are transferred between the Banks. Please be patient and remember that we will do whatever we can to speed the process.

Can I Complete At The Weekend?

Generally, no! The main reason is that money needs to be transferred to complete the sale or purchase and this can only be received when the conveyancers offices and banks are open, which are usually Monday to Friday only.

But what happens if the legal work is completed on a Friday? Can the parties then move on the following day? Unfortunately this also causes problems! Generally most purchases involve Mortgage funds of one sort or another. That being the case the buyers' solicitor is only allowed to use the mortgage monies on completion, provided he is satisfied that Vacant Possession will be given on completion, in other words the previous owners have moved out. Therefore, if the seller has reached agreement with his buyer that he will move out on the Saturday, vacant possession cannot be given and the monies cannot be used until the Monday.

What do we do about the keys?

If you are selling, you should take the keys to the Estate Agent on the day of completion so that they can be handed to the Buyer by the Estate Agent once the Sellers conveyancer has confirmed the money has been received from the Buyer of your property. If it is a private sale with no Estate Agents involved you will need to make your own arrangements with the Buyer about handing over the keys. We will advise you and we often can assist in the process if required.

If you are buying you will be able to obtain the keys from the Estate Agents once your purchase money has been received by the Sellers conveyancer and the Sellers have vacated the property.

In the majority of transactions completion has been effected and keys released by about 12 noon - 1pm.

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I would like to say thank you for your positive attitude and commitment towards the sale of my property. Your professionalism and straight forward approach was excellent. Your communication skill...

Mr M Gill

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