- What does Exchange of Contracts mean?
Once buyer and seller have finished the legal process – including all those in the chain – a completion date is confirmed for when the solicitors will exchange contracts.
This is done over the telephone in a set process where both conveyancers record date and time of the exchange, at which point the contracts are legally binding.
You need to be sure that you can complete on the date agreed as well as us, as a change of mind about the move or a failure to complete for whatever reason leaves you liable to be sued for breach of contract by others in the chain.
Deposit monies paid on exchange of contracts is forfeited by the seller should you fail to complete your purchase after the contract exchange has taken place.
- How long does an exchange of contracts take?
So many factors affect the length of time the process takes. Legal information is required regarding:
- Seller’s solicitor
- The property itself, i.e. – searches involving local authorities, coal and water boards and others
- Personal finances
If you are the seller, all this must be carried out buy the buyer’s solicitor, with us acting on your behalf to facilitate their needs.
Also remember that for chain sales, the more people in the chain means that more individual parties are carrying out their own searches. This can complicate the process depending on what problems others further down the chain are dealing with.
As a rough guide, this process can take anywhere between 8-12 weeks on average, with that estimate being either slower or faster depending on some of the circumstances we’ve mentioned. No solicitor is able to definitively state how long a transaction is likely to take, so don’t be taken in by one that does.
- Will I need a survey?
Your mortgage lender will inspect the property via a surveyor, usually to determine whether or not the house is worth the asking price. It’s not a very reliable survey to use in the event of an issue with the building, though.
A regular survey by a bank or building society is not very detailed, but for an extra fee they sometimes offer a Home Buyer’s Report. That way, if a problem is spotted after purchase, the surveyor could be liable for a fault that has been overlooked, instead of it falling upon the homeowner.
For older properties or a building you have concerns about, a full structural survey could be carried out which goes into even greater detail. To cover your own back legally, we would recommend that you request a full survey on any property you intend to purchase.
- When can I book my removal arrangements?
It is advisable to wait until contracts have been exchanged and a date has been set for completion. Doing so before this may cost you your fee with your removal firm if there are any last-minute delays.
- Is it best to choose a local solicitor to deal with conveyancing?
There is the advantage of being able to call into your solicitor’s office when living nearby, but it is perfectly possible to conduct your matter from anywhere in England or Wales, thanks to the postal service, online consultations, and (where possible) e-documents and e-signatures.
We are happy to deal with your sale or purchase in the way that suits you best.
- What is Completion?
Completion is the point when monies have been transferred between solicitors and you receive your keys. For sellers, completion day is the date you need to permanently vacate the property.
- What is Chancel Repair Liability?
Chancel Repair Liability dates back to medieval law, when churches or chancels were maintained by the owners of the land. As church estates became further diluted over the centuries, these fees often got broken down and carried on with land sold off.
Chancel Repair Liabilities don’t appear on property deeds, and discharging them (where necessary) can costs thousands of pounds or more. Thankfully, any property that hasn’t had interest registered by the church with the Land Registry after October 2013 is no longer at risk of charge.
Should this apply to a property you are looking into, we can offer you protection against it at a competitive rate.
- How long is my transaction likely to take?
The best we can offer is a rough guide. This process can take anywhere between 8-12 weeks on average, with that estimate being either slower or faster depending on some of the circumstances we’ve mentioned already in this FAQ.
- How will you keep me up to date with progress?
We’ll keep in touch in whatever way is best for you. Whether it be by email, pre-arranged appointment, video consultation, social media message services or post.
- What searches need to be done?
Standard searches submitted are environmental, water and local authority, though others like limestone and mining may be necessary depending on your location.
These usually take around 2-3 weeks and are submitted upon receipt of the contract pack from the seller’s solicitor. Due to current circumstances, however, it’s possible to expect delays.
Monies paid for a search cannot be reimbursed after submission, as they are paid to an external provider. Clients sometimes choose to wait until their mortgage is accepted to do this to prevent losing out. Searches requested are dependant on your questionnaire responses at the start of the process.
- My Stamp Duty estimate is not what I expected – why is this?
Stamp duty is estimated at the beginning of the process under the normal tax rate, as we are not able to presume a client’s personal tax liability. A tax declaration is provided to all clients so it can be adjusted upon our receipt of formal instructions.
- When are we able to exchange contracts?
- When we have obtained your signed contract.
- When our investigation of Title Deeds and all other enquiries are complete.
- When all search results are back and we are satisfied with them.
- When the Mortgage Offer has come to us and we have reviewed all the conditions.
- When your cleared deposit funds have made it to us.
- Once all parties have settled upon a completion date. (The date of the move)
- When we have your signed contract.
- When we have proof that there is sufficient money to repay the mortgage from the sale of the property.
- When we’re informed that all parties involved in the sale are satisfied.
- Once all parties have settled upon a completion date.
- I want to pay my fees or my deposit
You can pay your initial fees and search fees via bank transfer, details for which were sent out to you with our initial pack, or by calling us on 0113 218 5727. Please note the most we can accept by way of card payment is £500.00. Please quote your reference number when making payment. This can be found at the top of any letters that we have sent to you.
We will contact you when we are in a position to request your deposit payment for which will need to be way of bank transfer.
- What delays commonly happen during the process?
We’re on top of the conveyancing process as much as possible, but there are certain situations where delays can result. We do chase up on anything we possibly can as a matter of course.
Such delays can include:
- Length of the chain – a delay anywhere along the line will also delay everybody else.
- Mortgage application process taking longer than normal – usually due to requests for mortgage references or lenders simply being busy.
- Mortgage offer has unforeseen conditions upon issue.
- Unexpected results from searches or surveys.
- Stalling on the part of someone else in the chain.
- I posted my documents. Have you received them?
We try to deal with incoming mail as soon as possible upon receipt. Please consider delays within the postal service itself and also for high volumes of post landing on our desks.
- What documents can I prove my ID with?
Proof of identity and address is required. We will need one form of ID from the below:
- Valid passport
- Valid driving licence
We will also need one proof of address from either:
- Utility bill from last three months.
- Council tax bill from past three months.
- Bank statement from past three months.
Non-UK residents will require an additional proof of address out of the three choices above, certified by a Notary Public and bearing the notarised seal.