Conveyancing is one of the most time consuming aspects of any home move. If the property is empty and the buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can be completed within a few days. However, this is very unusual and it is more likely a mortgage will need to be approved and there will be a chain of transactions to contend with. If this is the case, then it usually takes 4-6 weeks to exchange contracts and then another 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion. This makes the process a total of 6-10 from start to finish. We understand the pressured timescales involved in property transactions and we do all we can to progress the transaction as quickly as possible.
If you are buying a property, your solicitor will usually ask you for approximately £125.00 at the beginning to cover the search fees that will be paid out on your behalf. The balance of the price and the solicitor’s cost, as well as any additional charges, will be payable shortly before completion of the deal. If you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price then you may be required to pay prior to the exchange of contracts.
If you are selling then you should not need to pay any money in advance. The costs and agent fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you.
If you are obtaining a mortgage, a valuer will inspect the property on behalf of the lender. Although his report should give you an indication as to whether he thinks the property is worth the amount that you have asked to borrow, it will probably not be a reliable source if things went wrong. For an additional fee, you will usually be offered the option to arrange for the same valuer to carry out a more detailed ‘Home Buyers Report’. This can be relied on if, at some later date, you discover a problem not mentioned in the report that you wish to take up with the valuer.
If the property is quite old and you are particularly concerned with its condition, you can always obtain a full structural report that is much more detailed.
There is a golden rule when it comes to this – “let the buyer beware” so, provided you have not been misled, you will be the one liable for any problems you discover after the exchange of contracts.
It is normal for a deposit to be paid on exchange of contracts. If you are buying and selling, we can usually use your buyers deposit in connection with your purchase so you will not have to find anything. If you are just buying, the amount of the deposit will usually depend upon the size of your mortgage (if any). If it is less than 90%, 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%.
If you have any questions regarding the legal aspect of moving, we recommend speaking to your Conveyancer. However, your agent will also be aware of how the sale or purchase is proceeding and should be able to cover any general queries you have.
If for any reason the mortgage offer is declined or delayed or it contains any conditions that you cannot comply with, the money may not be available when required so it would be extremely dangerous to exchange contracts without it and any competent solicitor would strongly advise you not to do so.
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 from exchange of contracts as the property will be at your risk from that time. 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.
These are usually left with the estate agents (if any) and the buyer collects them once the money has been paid over on the day of completion. If there are no estate agents (or this is not convenient), the seller will hand them directly to the buyer. Either way, it is important that arrangements are made in advance to prevent the possibility of the buyer having to wait outside with the removal van! Although your solicitor will always try to ensure that everything is finalised as early as possible on the day of completion - and usually this is dealt with by midday - there can sometimes be a delay if, for example, your solicitor is still waiting for the mortgage monies to arrive or there is a particularly long chain. If this happens, please don't panic or become upset because your solicitor will invariably resolve the problem by early afternoon - if not sooner!