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  • What is Conveyancing?
    Conveyancing is the legal term used to simply transfer the ownership of a property from one owner to another. A Simple History of Conveyancing The process of conveyancing has been in England since the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066. During this time a common law was implemented in England and standardized rules were created. This was ultimately to protect the Lords and aristocrats at the time. Mere peasants were often just granted a right to work and live on these lands. Title deeds were in paper, and many still are to this day. The title deeds acted as a full history of who had owned the property, when they acquired it, and what its intended use was. ​ Fast forward many, many, many years (we are doing old school history lesson here, where we can gloss over many time periods), and big changes took place in the 20th Century. There was an enormous political reform with vast amounts of the population becoming eligible to vote. The principle of land also changed, having become an asset which could be bought and sold for housing and development. More people than ever before were able to own their own homes. During this time many third-party rights needed to be recorded, such as easements (rights of way, etc.) and covenants (restrictions on the property). Many historical title deeds are nearly impossible for modern readers to decipher! The first Land Registration Act was created in 1925, which made it compulsory to register any property ownership transfers, new agreements/arrangements etc. in England. This process was gradually phased in and is now part of the standard conveyancing process. Title deeds are now held on a centralised system at HM Land Registry and are downloaded.
  • Do I need to use a Lawyer/Solicitor?
    The short answer is yes! There is complex legal process that needs to be undertaken to buy, sell, re-mortgage or transfer a property. Property Lawyers/Solicitors often refer to themselves as Conveyancers and have undergone many years of training and gained experience to be able to handle your matter. Conveyancers like myself tend to practice in Property Law only. This makes us experts. If any part of your transaction involves a mortgage (whether buying or selling) the mortgage lender/other lawyers will insist that this part is carried out via a regulated and authorized person.
  • What is the difference between a Lawyer/Solicitor?
    In reality nothing. Whether you choose a Lawyer or Solicitor for your matter it will have little to no impact on your transaction. One is no better or worse than the other. Conveyancing is referred to as a "reserved activity" this means that the person carrying out your matter must be licensed themselves, or work for a regulated firm. They must be insured to carry it out. Lawyers Lawyers (like myself) tend to be trained and specialize in one area of law only. There are a number of regulators of Lawyers depending on the method and area of law they studied including: CLC - Council for Licensed Conveyancers SLC - The Society of Licensed Conveyancers CILEX - Institute of Legal Executives IOP - Institute of Licensed Paralegals Solicitors Solicitors as part of their training are required to learn 3 areas of law to qualify. After this they can choose to practice in one area or a number of any others. Because of the strict training and obligations placed on all legal professionals, in practice most Solicitors tend to stick to one area of law. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and The Law Society. Other Legal Professionals There are a whole number of other professionals who work in Conveyancing and call themselves a number of things, this can vary from firm to firm. You may hear terms such as Conveyancer, Paralegal, Case Handler, Executive, Legal Advisor, Technical Assistant, Legal Assistant, Consultant, Trainee, Locum, Legal Analyst. All of these will be experienced and highly skilled and vital to your matter progression.
  • What are the costs?
    You can obtain a free, no obligation quote from our website or by calling us on 020 33759301 Working out your budgets for selling and buying can be tricky. Our downloadable budget planner below that lets you keep track of all your costs in one place.
  • When do I pay?
    We will ask you for some money at the start of your matter - (usually £300 on a purchase & £100 on a sale) This will over the cost of searches, obtaining copies of your title deeds etc. The rest of the money will be collected in two stages. On exchange - we will collect from you your deposit funds. This is usually 10% of the purchase price that is promised to sellers. On completion - the balance of the funds will be requested a minimum of 1 working day before completion. You will receive a detailed completion statement with all costs and breakdowns in plenty of time. Draft ones can be supplied at any stage.
  • How long does Conveyancing take?
    Unfortunately, there is no set timescale for a transaction. As you can read from a short history lesson above every property has its own set of title deeds and needs to be reviewed in their entirety regardless of how many times a property has changed hands. As a ballpark figure for a sale to a 1st time buyer with a mortgage and no onward chain I would be suggest 6-8 weeks. This is due to several factors such as how quickly the buyers mortgage lender processes the mortgage offer paperwork, how quickly the buyers can move and of course your own requirements.​ The more linked properties that are added to the transaction (for example a sale 1st time buyer where you the sellers are buying another onward property) can make this process longer as all parties need to be ready at the time same. ​ ​​Completions have, of course, often taken much less time than this, and I will always try to work with you to meet your own timescales!
  • Can I visit you?
    Residential Services I can offer appointments via zoom, teams, skype and phone calls. Most of the legal work will be carried out remotely. However, if I feel a face to face appointment is beneficial or you prefer this, then this can be arranged at a mutually convenient location. I offer my residential conveyancing services via an existing legal firm Amity Law who are based in Bolton. Amity Law Limited are registered in England and Wales under company number 05490029 and is regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) under number 11110. ​ Business/Locum Services I am able to attend your offices if you require a physical presence. I work remotely from a secure location and you are welcome to visit with a prearranged appointment.
  • What are searches?
    Before you become bound to buy the property on exchange of contracts your conveyancer will make a number of property searches with various bodies such as Local Authorities, Coal and Water Authorities and other agencies. These searches are essential, since the searches might reveal serious problems with the property. The sellers may not have told you about the problems, or they may not know about them either. None of this information is held by Land Registry, and it may not be discoverable by inspecting the property. The searches are made with a number of different organisations, and we look at the main searches on the next page. Why are Searches important? If you discover problems after you have exchanged contracts to buy the property, you will not be able to back out, even if the problems mean you cannot get a mortgage on the property. The property may turn out to be worth much less than you have agreed to pay for it, and you might not even be able to live in it, or use it lawfully. You will not be entitled to any compensation from the seller if you discover the problems later. If you discover a problem before you exchange contracts, you have various ways of dealing with any issues revealed by the searches: Your conveyancer may make ask further questions to see how serious the problem is, and what solutions there might be to the problem. You may negotiate a price reduction or take out insurance. You might insist the seller deals with the problem, by getting any missing approvals or consents. You might get a surveyor or builder to advise you how serious the problem is, especially if there may be safety issues at stake. Your, or your lender, might decide the property is unacceptable and withdraw from the transaction. It is important to realise that just because your lender will accept the position, you should accept it too. The lender isn’t going to live in the house or deal with the problems. Also they may not care that the house is worth a lot less, as long as they can sell it for more than the mortgage. What are the main property searches? The main searches carried out before exchange of contracts are: The Local Authority Search. The Water and Drainage Search. Environmental Search. In some circumstances, your conveyancer may also recommend: A Common Land/Town & Village Green Search. Mining searches - such as coal, brine, tin, chalk, clay, limestone. A Chancel Repairs Search. A Planning Search. Your conveyancer will make searches at Land Registry to check the seller’s ownership and title information. The seller will also be expected to give comprehensive replies to the standard property enquiries. The Local Authority Search Your conveyancer can order either a Council Local Search from the Local Authority, or a Regulated Local Search from a private company regulated by the Property Codes Compliance Board. Both provide the same details, however a Regulated Local Search may be quicker, and for a lower cost. Local authorities fees and time-scales can vary. Many points are checked by the Local Search including: Planning Permissions, Listed Buildings and Building Regulations - any current or pending planning, building control or listed building applications, consents or refusals. Planning Agreements, compulsory purchase orders, or enforcement action. Roads - Is the road maintained at private or public expense? Is there a road adoption agreement, or any road proposal, traffic or railway scheme, order or direction, or a footpath affecting the property? Statutory Notices - for example relating to Building works, Health and Safety, Environment, Housing, and Public Health, Radon gas, and Contaminated Land. There are additional optional local search questions that your conveyancer might suggest, for example: Road Proposals. Pipelines crossing the property. Houses in Multiple Occupation (‘HMOs’) Noise Abatement. Environmental Notices The Water and Drainage Search You cannot assume that a property has mains water and drainage - it is not unknown for the drinking water to come from wells, or for foul drainage to go to pumping stations or septic tanks, either on the property or nearby. This search will confirm that the property has mains water, whether this is metered, and whether the drainage goes into a public sewer. It will show on a plan any drains or sewers within the boundaries, or nearby. This information could affect any future development plans for the property. Your conveyancer can choose to order the standard water authority search, or a Regulated Water & Drainage Report prepared by a private company from an inspection of the water authority’s records. Environmental Searches Many Environmental risks can affect your property, including flooding, contaminated land, fracking, wind-farms, and HS2. Your conveyancer will advise you whether they should make an Environmental search. Mining Searches Properties in many parts of the country could be affected by subsidence caused by underground mining of over 60 different minerals, including coal, brine, tin, chalk, clay and limestone. While compensation claims may be made for subsidence damage as a result of coal mining or brine extraction, the physical and financial effects of subsidence caused by other types of mining may fall on you. An expert mining search should often be made to identify any potential risk, in addition to the usual coal and brine search. Your lender may insist on this. Chancel Repair Searches Chancel Repair liability originated from the tithe system under which the land in a parish was liable to pay for any repairs to the church. This liability still exists and potentially affects approximately one third of all parish churches in England and Wales, covering almost 4m acres of land. Instant cost-effective searches are available to screen against any potential liability. Conveyancers and lenders generally consider that insurance should be purchased where a potential risk of liability has been discovered. Planning Search This will show the detailed planning history of the property and nearby over the last 10 years. This is better than a Local Search, which is only concerned with the property being searched against and its immediate boundaries. Flood Search The Flood Search will assess the risk from all four main types of flooding (river, coastal, groundwater and surface water). The predictive maps for ground and, the unpredictable surface water flood in particular, have been shown to be very accurate.
  • My friend told me I don't need searches - is this right?
    As mentioned before, every transaction is different. If you are buying the property with a mortgage then you will almost certainly need to carry out searches for not only, you but your mortgage lender. It is worth remembering that until you pay your mortgage off, the property, technically belongs to the mortgage company and they are part of the Conveyancing process just like you. Cash buyers and some mortgage companies on re-mortgages do not require searches. Properties bought at auction already have the searches carried out before had as part of the legal pack. There are different searches done depending on where the property is located and I can go through these with you. I will only need your property postcode to ascertain this from the databases we use.
  • What is a chain?
    People usually buy and sell a property at the same time, to avoid the risk and cost of owning two houses at once. The chain is the number of houses and people buying and selling at once. Each one dependent on the other and exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously in all transactions. This means that the speed of progress is usually dictated by the slowest link in the chain. There will always be one person slightly behind the rest of the chain as they will be the last to join.
  • What is the difference between exchange & completion?
    In order to actually get your matter finished, we refer to this as completion. The first part of this is the exchange. Exchange You will have returned your signed Contract and your Lawyer will be holding this. You may have noticed this box, usually at the top right hand side. On exchange, both Lawyers will run though all details including (not a full list) full names, addresses, property addresses, price, deposit paid etc. The above box is then completed. The completion date will be confirmed on this call. Once the date has been confirmed on the exchange, it can not be changed. The exchange makes the transaction legally binding and either a party cannot withdraw without incurring financial penalties. Completion This is the day that you will actually complete. If you are buying a property, you will collect the keys on this day & the property will be yours. For selling/re-mortgaging, this is the day you will get your funds. If you are selling, you must have moved out of the property and have the property empty on this day usually by 2pm. There are of course certain exemptions to this which can discuss in more detail depending on your matter. It is worth nothing that exchange can not happen until your file is completely ready. We can not exchange and sort an issue later. We often get asked if we can exchange whilst we wait for a local search/mortgage offer etc. The short answer is no. We are entering everyone into a legally binding contract and we cannot do this unless your matter is 100% ready to agree dates. There is no set timescale for exchange/completion to have taken place at a certain time. We usually aim for a week between exchange and completion, and if needed, it all be done on the same day.
  • Do I need a Survey?
    The general rule in UK property law is ‘Caveat Emptor’ - meaning let the buyer beware. It is therefore, very important for a buyer to have a house or flat professionally surveyed before exchanging of contracts to buy it. Conveyancers cannot advise buyers on the value, structural, or physical ‘bricks and mortar’ aspects of a house or flat. Buyers should seek such advice from a surveyor. Note that under English law, the seller generally has no obligation to the buyer to warrant or guarantee that the home is physically suitable for the buyer, or even that the home complies with planning, building regulations or any other legal requirements. If you exchange contracts to buy a home (or bid for it at auction), without having had it surveyed first, you may find you cannot get a mortgage to buy it if there are defects picked up on the prospective lender's valuation. Unfortunately, if that happens, you cannot back out. You may be liable to pay the seller substantial damages for breach of contract if you fail to complete the purchase, including all their fees and losses. Also, it is wrong to think you can just get some form of title or other insurance to cover all problems. This simply does not work. It is better to have any defect professionally assessed. A professional survey is essential All home buyers should have a professional survey before exchange of contracts. On average, buyers spend £5,750 on repairs after they buy a home. Often the repairs come as a surprise once the buyers move in. A survey gives buyers the chance to re-negotiate the price to take into account the need for the work, or whether to buy the house or flat. Your surveyor is the only professional who will visit the property as part of the home purchase process - and he may also be able to comment in general terms on information provided by your conveyancer in relation to its boundaries. Your home purchase is probably the biggest and most important transaction of your life. That's why the Consumers' Association (Which?) recommend that you should have a survey carried out before you agree to buy a home, as do many other professional and consumer organisations. Valuations are not surveys Banks and other lenders will always have a home valued before they agree to lend on it. But they are only concerned that they can sell the house or flat and recover the money they have lent to you to buy it. There may be defects in the home or its structure that are not revealed by their valuer's inspection if it is just a 'post-code' valuation, or basic inspection. Also, there may be omissions or inaccuracies in the valuation report that do not matter to the lender, but they might matter to you. For example, you might be buying a home for £300,000 and borrowing £150,000 from the bank. They may be happy to lend this even if the home needs £20,000 of repairs - since as long as they can sell it for more than their loan and costs they will not lose out. But you will have paid £20,000 too much for the home. Also, don't forget that the lender will not live in the home, and have to deal with problems of blocked drains, leaking roofs, defective services, or settlement cracks in the walls. You will. Be aware that the bank's valuation is carried out by the bank’s surveyor for the bank, not you, even if you pay for it. You will not be able to sue their surveyor if they have missed something. In contrast, if you have your own survey carried out, you can rely on it. Your surveyor will have a legal liability to you should they miss something, or overvalue the home. They will also be expected to have professional indemnity insurance to cover claims for losses caused by negligent surveys. Normal consumer rights do not apply The normal consumer rights to quality and fitness for purpose that you have where you buy a car, or other consumer item from a retailer on the high street do NOT apply to house or flat purchases, whether from a builder or from a private individual. You may have an NHBC guarantee from a builder if it is a new property, but this can very limited in the extent of cover, plus you will have to enforce it at your cost. Also, be wary of any unconfirmed 'verbal' comments, assurances or other statements by the seller, or their estate agents about a home since they are generally unenforceable - unless and until they have been confirmed in writing by your conveyancer, before exchange of contracts. This is why the Property Information Forms, Searches and Enquiries are important. So, if the seller or their agent has told you something that is an important factor in your decision whether to buy a house or flat, you should ask your conveyancer to confirm the statement formally. This way it will be binding on the seller, and they will be liable for misrepresentation if it is a lie. Sellers and agents must not mislead buyers The recently introduced ‘Consumer Protection (Amendment) Regulations, 2014/870’ now place an obligation on a seller not to mislead a buyer or provide incorrect or ambiguous information. However this has not been tested in the courts.
  • What is the difference between Freehold and Leasehold?
    While these terms may sound complicated, they have two simple meanings. Freehold - you own the property and the land it's built on for as long as you want. Leasehold - you own the property for a set time period. You do not own the land it's built on and will generally pay a rent for the land.
  • I’m currently renting, When should I hand my notice in?
    Hand in your notice too early, and you are left with nowhere to live. Hand it in too late, and you will end up paying a mortgage and rent at the same time. The usual recommendation is to hand in notice on exchange of contracts. Although the parties can agree to work toward a particular completion date, it is only on exchange that the date becomes binding and cannot change, without penalties for the defaulting party.
  • I am paying more than my partner - what can I do to protect my money?
    It is very common for one person to contribute more towards the purchase price of the property than the other. If you are not married, it is very important to legally agree now whether you each own half the property, or some other proportion, especially if either of you have children. What you agree now may well decide what happens to the property, and the division of the money, if either of you want to sell the property, or if one of you dies. If you are married (or in a civil partnership) and your relationship breaks down, then the family law courts have power to decide what should happen to the property, and their decision might over-rule any decision you make now. However it is still important to consider what shares you hold in the property now, as the decision will affect what happens should one of you die. There could also be important Inheritance Tax consequences to think about. You can own property jointly as ‘Joint Owners’ (the legal term is 'Joint Tenants') or as ‘Owners in Shares’ (the legal term is 'Tenants in Common'). The legal terms can be confusing (and have nothing to do with leases or tenancy agreements) Joint Owners If you own property jointly with another person as Joint Owners it means that you each have equal shares in the property, regardless of how much money each of you originally put in to buy the property. If one of you dies, then that person’s share in the property automatically goes to the other owner(s) - regardless of what it might say in the deceased’s will about the property. This applies to married or unmarried couples that are joint owners. You can sever the joint ownership if, for example, your relationship breaks down, but you should get legal advice before you do this. Owners in Shares If you are ‘Owners in Shares’ you can agree in a Trust Deed what your shares are, say 70%-30% or 50%-50%, or any other proportion you agree. The shares might represent how much you each put in to the house purchase, for example. You can also vary the shares later by agreement too, if your circumstances change. The Trust Deed could even say that the proportions of each share could change if, for example, if one of you carries out improvements to the property, or pays off some of the mortgage on the property. You should also think about what will happen if one of you dies. If that happens, and you are Owners in Shares, the deceased’s share will not go automatically to the other owner(s) of the property, but will go in accordance with their will. If they haven’t made a will, then their share will go to their family. An unmarried couple will have no automatic right to their deceased's co-owner’s share, regardless of how long they have lived together, or whether they have had children together. Such couples should have a Trust Deed setting out whether the survivor will have a right to stay in the house, or whether it has to be sold immediately, or whether one party can buy out the other's share. How to choose which option is right for you We will have to discuss your circumstances with you carefully before you make a decision, but the following points may be helpful: Joint Owners. You might choose this option if you are both happy that: You have equal shares in the property; Your share will go to the other owner(s) automatically if you die. Your share will not go to your children, or other members of your family, or friends, despite what you might have said in your will; You accept that the other owner can convert the Joint Ownership of the property to Ownership in Shares at any time, and that this may happen automatically in some cases, and that you would then own the property in equal shares. You could only change the proportions if the other owner agrees to a Trust Deed when the severance happens. Owners in Shares. You might choose this option if you are both happy that: You have unequal shares in the property; or • Your share will not automatically go to the other owner if you die. You could still agree now to make mutual wills to leave your shares to each other, but you could change this at any time; You want your shares to go to the members of your respective families, if either of you die. However, the other joint owner might be allowed to live in the property until they die, or they want to sell it; The other owner has financial difficulties, and you have put in more than half to buy the property. If you own as Joint Owners and they become bankrupt , their creditors will take half the value in the property; You want to provide for any of the possible issues mentioned in this guide in a separate Trust Deed, that we can prepare for you.
  • I'm selling, what do I do with my keys?
    The keys will normally be left or handed to the estate agent on the day of completion. The estate agents will not release the keys to the new owners until the matter has actually completed and they receive a verbal confirmation from your lawyer that the keys can be handed over. We call this key release. You can hand the keys over to the buyers directly, however, you must not do this until you receive your call to say the keys can be released. You will also need to tell us of you are going to hand over keys directly. If the keys are to be handed over in any other means, such as left with family, neighbours etc., you must inform your lawyer. There is no set time for this process to happen. It is normally around lunchtime. The more properties in the chain the longer this process can take.
  • I'm buying, what time can I get my keys?
    Unfortunately, there is no set time for completion. The keys can only be released once the monies have been paid to the sellers solicitors. This is outside of lawyers control. The request to make the payment is submitted to the bank, the bank then need to process this transfer. The bank confirm it will arrive that day but not give a time. Some transactions have happened within minutes, some have taken hours. It normally takes place around lunch time. However, the more properties in the chain the longer this process can take. You will receive a call when you can collect your keys from both your lawyer and the estate agents.
  • When do I pay my first mortgage payment?
    Every lender has their own requirements and rules. Unfortunately, this outside of our scope and we have no control over this. Once the matter has completed, your new mortgage company, will write to you. They will set out how much your first payment is and when this is to be paid. Usually your first mortgage payment is slightly higher. e.g. You complete on the 10th of the month. Your mortgage payment was set up to come out on the 8th of the month. Your first mortgage payment will include your full month payment and the payment for the days from completion to your first payment. If the date your bank has set for the mortgage payment is not convenient, you normally have to make your first payment to them before you can change this. Some lenders will take a part payment rather than a large first payment.
  • What will happen to the cashback from my mortgage company?
    Usually, your cashback will be sent with your mortgage monies to us. The solicitors copy of your mortgage offer will confirm this to us. In reality, this would just reduce the amount needed from you to us as a balance payment e.g. We need a balance from you of £100,000.00 before your mortgage offer arrives Your mortgage lender is lending you £80,000.00 Your mortgage lender is providing you with £1,000.00 cashback. The new balance from you would therefore be £19,000.00 Some lenders do not send these with the completion funds and send these after completion. It can be as much as 30 days after completion. In these circumstances, they are often sent direct to you. If these are received by us after completion, they are of course forwarded on.
  • When do I get the deeds once I've bought?
    Long gone are the days of you getting handwritten title deed bundle on completion. Everything is now stored electronically at the Land Registry and are available for anyone to download for a fee. Once the matter is completed, the sellers solicitors send to us the documentation to update the name of the owner of the property owners into your name. An application is made to the Land Registry who complete the process. All applications have to be sent to the Land Registry and there is no other alternative. This process can take anything from a few days to over a year. Once the application is passed to the Land Registry we have no control over this process. We do have a portal where we can track progress, however the updates provided are often very vague. You will also have a note of the title number from the previous papers you will have been proved, and you can chase this with the Land Registry yourselves. The timescale varies on how busy the Land Registry are. There are thousands of matters completed every week and all updated by them. They also deal with other matters not just changing of names. Please do not be alarmed by this timescale. Once the application is received by the Land Registry and logged onto their systems, nothing else can happen to the deeds. The address is effectively locked for anything else until it is updated. The Land Registry log applications in date order. If you have completed and need to do a new transaction e.g. you bought and now need to re-mortgage and the title deeds have still need been updated, you can still proceed to an extent. A separate application can be logged with the Land Registry asking them to expedite the original application. We must supply them to a valid reason and evidence to back this up. If the Land Registry accept this, they will aim to have reviewed the application within 10 works days. The Land Registry are very strict on what matters can be expedited to insure that only those needing genuine priority are dealt with. Once the deeds have been updated, we are notified electronically and download the updated documentation. This is then sent to you electronically. Any other papers we received from the sellers such as guarantees, warranties etc. are sent to you depending on how we receive these. If you bought a property that was unregistered and still had the original paper title deeds, please note that when an application is made to the Land Registry to register this, all the original deeds will be destroyed. It is sometimes possible for us to send a certified copy of the deed to the Land Registry instead of the original to retain this. If you would like to do this, please let us know.
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