When you are buying a property, you have to understand that there are many documents that you have to first complete before you go ahead with the transaction. If you want this whole transaction to go as quickly as possible, you need to find the services of a reliable conveyancer or property solicitor. These are professionals who will be responsible for making sure that all your legal and administrative affairs in the whole transaction are well taken care of.
The best way to go about this is starting to look for a solicitor in the early stages of the process because it is very important to find a professional that you not only feel comfortable with but also understands their part. The conveyancing market is pretty large and it is filled with many practising firms, with each of them different from each other, in terms of quality and speed of the services they offer. Sometimes even solicitors within the same firm have different attributes.
Our firm’s conveyancing division is made up of a team of qualified and certified professionals, having solicitors with a speciality in the administrative and legal aspects of all the property sale transactions all over London. Our team of experts will provide fixed fee quotations and always emphasise on the delivery of excellent customer service to make sure that all parties to the transaction are satisfied.
What does the Buyer’s Conveyancer or Solicitor Do?
- Obtaining the formal instruction from the client and going ahead to verify their identity.
- Go through the documents while checking all the stated details and terms of the contract bundle once they receive them from the seller’s solicitor. They do this to ensure that all the details stated match all the expectations of the buyer in that transaction. In most cases, the contract bundle contains official Land Registry Title documents in official copies, building regulation documents, a draft of the contract, the property information of the seller and all the fixture forms, management information pack where applicable, lease if applicable plus any other documents that may have relevance in the transaction. They will then take the appropriate action basing their decision on their findings.
- Check and verify the property’s access, restrictions and boundaries.
- Perform property searches, assess the corresponding result and if necessary, they will raise additional enquiries. A search is an official check to ascertain if: there are any future preservation orders or future plans that may affect the property from the Local Authority planning department; there are any cases of contamination in the surrounding environment; there is a church repair liability; there are any drainage and water connections in the vicinity and many other searches relating to the specifics of the location like performing a coal mining search.
- Put together any survey reports and assess their results then advise their clients on the proper step to follow.
- In case there is need for clarification, they will raise questions or enquiries in relation to the part of the transaction that they feel they need more information on. For instance, they can go ahead and request for the planning permission documentation for extensions or the correct building regulations or any other works that they feel there may be gaps.
- Act in person for the mortgage lender for the buyer while ensuring that all their administrative and financial obligation is in order and well fulfilled.
- Come up with a report that based all the information they received from the mortgage lender and the buyer.
- Act as a liaison for all the parties.
- Responsible for managing all the transfer of monies.
- Negotiate the exchange and the possible completion dates of the transaction.
- Ensure that the stamp duty and all the Land Registry fees are paid and on time.
- Ensure that the new buyer is registered with the Land Registry.
- Ensure that they perform all the post exchange searches to make sure that the property in question is still clear of any legal charges.
- Conduct any other legal work that may seem necessary as part of that particular transaction like a Declaration of Trust among others.
Types of Conveyancing Searches
A property conveyancer will primary undertake two searches for the buyer. The first of these searches is a personal search. The search is carried out where all the information the conveyancer would need to know or possess is in the public domain. The second one is the official search. This type of search is performed by a professional that is within the council. However, the most common type of search is a personal search. Nonetheless, there are some instances where some mortgage lenders ask for an official search for certain properties.
It is also very important to note that numerous searches could be undertaken like coal searches, tin mining searches, brine searches or clay searches, most of which don’t quite apply to the properties in London. However, the following searches may be required:
- Local Authority Search: It is supposed to show whether or not:
- There is a need for upkeep for the adjoining roads and footpaths.
- There are upcoming changes on the nearby roads.
- The property is on or near contaminated land.
- The property lies in a conservation area.
- There is an existing compulsory purchase order on the land.
- Some debts are associated with that property like Green Deal payments.
- Some enforcement notifications for breaches in planning permission have been served.
- There are some tree preservation orders.
- Water and Drainage Search: This kind of search is designed to explain how the area’s water drainage system operates and all the persons or authorities responsible for the system’s upkeep.
- Chancel Repair Liability Search: The search is meant to show whether the property’s owner has an obligation to make any contributions towards ensuring that the local church is well taken care of.
- Flood Risk Search: A conveyancer will be able to find out whether where the property is located is at risk of floods.
- Environmental Search: From this search, a conveyancer will be in the know the previous use of the property and find out if the land upon which the property sits has been contaminated.
It is important to note that these two searches are to be done pre-completion:
- Bankruptcy Search: This is meant to ascertain if a person has been declared bankrupt. Once this is shown, the person’s ability to borrow money from a mortgage lender will be greatly reduced.
- Land Registry Priority Search: A conveyancer will undertake this search to find out all the latest documentation that is probably held on the said property. All of this information will be found on the local Land Registry Office.
How Much It Costs to Hire a Solicitor
When it comes to hiring a solicitor, you have to know and understand that there are two primary conveyancing quotations in terms of costs: the legal fees, which is charged by a conveyancer or solicitor for the time they spend while doing the work and disbursements. Disbursements are those third-party costs that cannot be avoided. Although they are undertaken by a solicitor, they are paid out to conduct searches, stamp duty fees and Land Registry fees.
There are some conveyancers or solicitors that offer a no move, no fee guarantee. This essentially means that you will not have to pay any legal fees if your purchase falls through for any reason prior to the exchange of contracts. On the other hand, some solicitors may offer fees charged by the hour, while others may offer fixed fees and some will opt to take a percentage of what the property is worth. You have to do some due diligence of what the fees may be like from the very start to make sure that you avoid feeling overwhelmed by bills that may be unexpectedly high at the end.
You need to factor in the aspect of work and the associated costs. However, you should not let this aspect entirely govern your final decision. Any fully qualified and reputable solicitor or conveyancer in London who charges a fixed fee will most likely charge you a fee in the area of £750 to £1250. The difference is mostly brought about by their level of experience and seniority. If there will be any need for additional legal work that would be beyond the remission of the standard process, you will have to pay an additional fee. The best way to go about this when you are in the process of seeking the services a professional is to get yourself at least three quotes before you settle on one and enter a contact. You need to understand that sometimes it may be challenging to understand the conveyancing quotations. To make sure that you don’t get misled by the devil in the details is ensure to you get fixed quotes that include everything.
How to Choose the Right Solicitor
The process of buying and selling of properties in London calls for expertise and knowledge in the field. That is why you must consider finding the services of a solicitor or conveyancer to help you through the process. You need to make sure that you choose an experienced professional in all the administrative and legal aspects of buying and selling property transactions in London.
The best way to go about this is to look for a good mark of quality. In London, to know that a conveyancer is qualified, they will need to have a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) certificate. This certificate is awarded to certified professionals by the Law Society to show that a conveyancer offers high quality work.
There are some very critical questions that you may need to ask conveyancing solicitors before you choose to engage them. Here are some of them:
- Do you offer fixed fees?: In most cases, you will find that solicitors offer an estimate on fees at the beginning. They provide an estimate because they are not quite sure how complex the transaction may end being or just how time-consuming it can be. However, take note of the firms that charge fees by the hour because such fees can quickly become very expensive in no time.
- Is there a ‘no move no fee’ guarantee?: You need to find out because you have to ensure that you don’t pay any fees if for any reason the purchase falls through.
- Is everything included in the quote?: It is not uncommon for conveyancing quotes to miss outlining essential costs such as bank transfer fees, VAT and other important disbursements. This is mostly to avoid making the quote look expensive and thus very attractive to a potential client. Even as you scout for the best conveyancer, ensure that the quote you get is all-inclusive so that you have a rough idea from the beginning.
- How busy is your schedule at the moment?: The busier the solicitor the slower the response time.
- Which do you use more, email or post?: Some solicitors prefer one over the other. Therefore, find out what mode of communication they prefer.
- Do I have a direct channel with my solicitor?: Dealing with your solicitor directly will go a long way in reducing the stress involved in the transactions.
- If necessary, can you conduct Skype or similar meetings if and when necessary?: There are times when your schedule could be so packed that you don’t have time to go for a physical meeting with your solicitor. If they don’t offer this service, it could prove to very inconveniencing to you because then you will have to make other arrangements like child care or taking time off work.
- How do you feel about working closely with my estate agent?: You have to understand that not all solicitors will be happy to work with your estate agent. If they feel happy and comfortable with working your estate agent, then the chances of the whole transaction being less stressful and smoother are quite high.
- How is your experience like working on this type of property transaction?: Many types of property purchase transactions could be very complex houseboats, leasehold properties, new developments and unusual conversions among others. It is only prudent to find out whether the conveyancing solicitor has enough experience handling such transactions.
- Do you have any booked holidays in your schedule and if so, what measures are in place to cater for your work?: It may be a little bit odd to ask your conveyancer this question but it is very important. In most cases, solicitors will either slow down or not work at all when on holiday. Therefore, it is only wise to find out of there will be someone else to take over their work in case they go on holiday.
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