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Conveyancing - What our clients actually asked...

Call off the search! this is where we keep the good stuff

We started by writing what we thought would be the Conveyancing FAQ to end all Conveyancing FAQs, and then sat back feeling pretty good about ourselves.

Then we had clients asking real questions - the stuff we'd put down was all well and good but there were other more specific things that clients wanted to know.

And that's what this page is all about.

So here they are. (If you have any additional questions you think ought to be included as well then please just get in touch using the contact form at the top of this page)

On a purchase, how do I check what fixtures and fittings are included in the price?
We will provide you with a copy of the list of fixtures and fittings prepared by the seller. Anything fixed permanently to the house should be included but the seller could take away carpets and curtains etc. so it is important to check the list and check all appliances that are included in the sale are in working order before we exchange contracts. If you want to change anything on the Fixtures and Fittings you can negotiate with the seller or with the Estate Agents. But you must make us aware of any changes or if you negotiate a price for extras in addition to the asking price.

If we are buying a property in joint names I understand we could hold it as Tenants in Common or Joint Tenants - what does this mean?
In spite of the word 'Tenants', this has nothing to do with renting the property. It's all to do with what happens if one of you dies.

JOINT TENANTS - If your names are written on the deeds as 'Joint Tenants' then if one of you dies the other one (the survivor) gets the whole of the property straight away. This is the most common way to own property.

TENANTS IN COMMON - If your names are written on the deeds as 'Tenants in Common' then if one of you dies we look at their will to see what should happen to their share. If they haven't left a will then there are rules about this and they would be followed.

Tenants in common is usually used where either party has children by a previous relationship and wants to make sure that on their death their share in the house goes to their children. If one person is putting in more than their partner then If you're holding the property as Tenants in Common you can also hold it in unequal shares (e.g. 70% to one, 30% to the other). However in this case you should consider drawing up a Trust Deed as well to protect your interest. If you require further information on this please contact our Private Client Department on 01623 451111 to discuss this further or go to their main page.

What is the difference between a survey and searches?
We get a surprising amount of confusion about these two completely different things - perhaps because they both start with an 'Sur' sound (!). Anyway here's the actual difference:-

SURVEY - this is arranged by your Mortgage Company and you will be asked to pay a valuation fee by your Mortgagee. If you are not having a Mortgage you can still arrange a survey independently with a valuer. The valuer will visit the property and check the value of the house and will confirm any obvious defects. But if you are concerned about the property you can have a House Buyers Report (which is much more detailed) or even a Full Structural Survey (which is even more detailed), any problems will be highlighted and advice given from the surveyor..

SEARCHES -Searches are simply a list of questions we send out to various people. They are called searches because we are asking those organisations to search their databases for information about this particular property. The type and number of searches we carry out will vary according to where you are buying, and it may be necessary for the search pack to include: -
Local search - this is carried out by us with the Local Authority and will confirm the planning history for the property, if roads are adopted (i.e. down to the highways department to maintain as opposed to private roads which are down to the owner to maintain); whether it is a listed building; whether there are any proposals for a motorway at the bottom of your garden, etc. If any entries are revealed on the search we will then make further enquiries with the sellers' Solicitors to investigate any issues on your behalf.
Environmental Search - this will reveal the history of the site on which your house has been built on, it will check if it has been built on a waste or landfill site, and if the property is within a flood plain.
Drainage Search - this is carried out with the local water authority, it will confirm to us if the property is connected to the main drains, and whether the property is on a water meter or not.
Mining Search - If the property is within a mining area we will also carry out a coal authority search, which will check when the last workings were in the area, and if there has been a mining claim on the property, and if so how the claim was settled. If a claim is revealed we may request the sellers Solicitors to provide a Schedule of Repairs from the Coal Authority so that we can provide you details of whether the claim was settled by repairs or compensation, and if compensation, how much was received.



What is an indemnity policy?
This is basically an insurance policy taken out to protect against things that could potentially be wrong with the property or it's title deeds. As an example there could be an extension at the property and the seller did not obtain Planning Permission or Building Regulation Approval from the Council for their consent to the extension. In this case you could ask for an Indemnity Policy to cover any enforcement action the Council could take in the future due to lack of permission to cover the legal proceedings in such a case.

The Policy would not cover you for the workmanship for the extension i.e. repairs to bring it up to standards. Another example is where there is slight problem with the title deeds - not serious enough to stop you from buying, but serious enough to worry you - an indemnity policy would calm that worry, meaning that even if the unlikely thing (whatever it is!) did happen you would have an insurance policy to cover you for any loss. The cost of the Policy is a one off premium and we would firstly approach the seller to cover the cost of the Policy.



When do we have to pay the deposit?
This can cause some confusion - many people refer to the deposit as the amount of money they are putting down on the house - i.e. the amount they aren't borrowing on the mortgage. However when solicitors talk about a deposit we mean something very specific. When we exchange contracts the buyer hands over a deposit as a down payment on the property (with the balance to be paid on the completion date). In theory this should be 10% of the purchase price - in practice it seldom is.

We will request your deposit on a purchase when we send all the paperwork to you for signing Contracts. If you have a sale and purchase tied in together, we should be able to use the deposit we receive on your sale, to exchange on your related purchase.

The amount of the deposit depends on all parties within the chain, if you are having a 100% mortgage on your purchase we will ask the sellers Solicitors if they could accept a nil deposit on Exchange or alternatively a nominal amount. Some Solicitors will request a 10% deposit on Exchange (and they are entitled to do so). If you are having a 95% Mortgage, we would usually request a 5% deposit and approach the sellers Solicitors to accept 5% (this would not normally be a problem in these circumstances). You can pay your deposit by cheque, telegraphic transfer, switch or visa payment.



When can we exchange contracts?
1. When we hold a signed Contract.
2. When we investigated the Title Deeds, and all resolved all enquiries.
3. When we have all search results and are satisfied with the results.
4. When we have received the Mortgage Offer and checked all conditions.
5. When we hold cleared funds for your deposit.
6. Once all parties have agreed a completion date. (The actual moving date)

1. When we hold a signed Contract.
2. When we have evidence that there is enough money coming in repay any mortgages on the property from the sale proceeds.
3. When we are advised that all parties in the chain are fully satisfied.
4. Once all parties have agreed a completion date.
Once we Exchange Contracts your transaction is legally binding and you can make all final arrangements in readiness for completion, i.e. book your removers. You do not need to come into the office for us to Exchange, provided the above is in order we can proceed with Exchange and would usually be done via telephone with all parties in the chain.



When should I insure the property?
You should arrange your Building Insurance to be put into force when we Exchange Contracts. If you are purchasing a new build you should put the Buildings Insurance into force once the property is built and we are arranging to complete on your Plot.



What happens on the completion date?
This is the moving day, the day you have been waiting for. We cannot guarantee a time when the transaction will be completed as we have to wait for the money to arrive from further down the chain. We usually say around lunch time as an approximate time scale when arranging times with your removers but we would stress we could be in the hands of other parties and the banking system.

As soon as the money is received keys can be released. If the property is being sold with an Estate Agent, you would take your keys to the Agents and if you are purchasing through an Agent the keys should be collected from them direct. If there is no Estate Agent you would make arrangements direct between the seller and the buyer.



When would you need my final balance?
This would be requested via statements from ourselves and we request that we hold the final balance a few days prior to the moving date so we are all ready on completion and to prevent any delays. We would accept payment via bankers draft, telegraphic transfer, switch, or credit card.



When would I receive my balance from you?
If there is a balance due back to you on completion we will arrange to forward this on the day of completion provided we have got the money. We can pay your balance by cheque, or we can arrange to transfer the funds direct to your bank account but we would charge a fee for this within our statements and would need details of your bank account.



What else do I need to think about?
As you have now purchased your house you should think about making your Will. Have you made one? What will happen to your home and how can you provide for your family? Have you thought about Inheritance Tax? If you require any further details please telephone our Wills Department on 01623 451111 to discuss this further, or Click here to go to the Wills and Probate main page.