Frequently Asked Questions about Conveyancing
I'm moving house, what are your legal costs?
We have a set scale of fees based on the value of the property you are selling / purchasing. When purchasing a property, in addition to our legal fees there are some other charges you will need to budget for. However these are payments to third parties which we have no control over and are broadly the same regardless of which solicitor you use.
(a) Search fees including local searches and land registry searches.
(b) Land Registry fee
(c) Bank transfer fee
(d) Stamp duty (if applicable)
What is meant by exchange of contracts?
The law of England & Wales says that a contract relating to land/property must be in writing so the contract is a document that sets out the terms of the transaction. After the seller and the buyer have signed their own contracts they will then be exchanged between the solicitors. This is when the contract becomes legally binding and neither party can back out without suffering loss.
What are searches?
Searches will identify any matters which you ought to know about that might affect your decision to proceed with the transaction. The searches we generally carry out are:
Local land charges search
A search of the local land charges register shows matters such as compulsory purchase orders, tree preservation orders, planning enforcement notices and financial charges registered against a property. You should note that the search result provides a snapshot of the register on the date of the search. Local land charges registered after the date of the search will still bind a property.
Local authority search (including any optional and additional enquiries)
A local authority search reveals important information about a property, such as planning permissions and building regulation consents, proposals for road schemes, environmental and pollution notices and whether any part of the property is registered as common land or as a town or village green. A local authority search only reveals matters that affect the property being searched against. It will not disclose matters that affect neighbouring properties.
Drainage and water enquiries
The replies to drainage and water enquiries show whether a property is connected to the mains water supply and mains drainage. The replies may also show the location of public sewers within the boundary of a property and other such matters that may restrict development.
If a local authority determines that land is contaminated, and the party who caused the contamination cannot be found, the current owner or occupier of the land may be required to remedy the contamination. This can be an expensive process, so it is important to assess the risk of land being contaminated before committing to buy a property. An environmental data search can be used to establish the risk of land being contaminated, by collating information from regulatory bodies, floodplain data and a review of current and historic land uses. This type of search is also known as a "desktop search". An environmental data search does not include a site visit or testing of soil or groundwater samples.
Coal mining search (where the property is in a historic mining area)
A coal mining search provides details of past, present and future coal mining activity at a property. The search also indicates if there are mine shafts on the property and whether any mining activities may cause subsidence.
Chancel repair search
A chancel repair search shows whether the owner of a property may be liable to contribute towards the cost of repairs to the chancel of a parish church. A Transitional Provisions Order from 2003 effectively means that ALL chancel repair obligations will cease on transfer after the 13th October 2013 unless the chancel of any Church has noted their interest in any particular property or land with the Land Registry before this date.
What is meant by completion?
This is the final stage of the transaction when funds are transferred and keys are released.
When do I get the keys?
Keys will be released to the buyer when ownership of the property has passed over on completion.
How long does the whole process take?
It is impossible to be specific, no two transactions are exactly alike. The factors which will affect the length of time include how quickly each party can arrange their finances and to a lesser extent the time taken to respond to the questions that have been asked such as Preliminary Enquiries Before Contract, and the searches. Obviously if there is a chain involved where there are many buyers and sellers all dependant on each other, this too can add to the length of time involved.