What Is Chancel Repair Liability?

The earliest known case of Chancel Repair Liability dates back to the 16th century, where Henvy VIII sold monasteries to willing buyers. The sale resulted in the transfer of the chancel’s repair responsibilities from the monks, to the new buyers. This repair responsibility extends to properties located far from the chancel but still within the church boundaries and is passed on from one generation to the other.

Chancel repair liability

This ancient land law has continued to affect property owners who are charged with high chancel repair bills. One such case is Aston Cantlow v Wallbank. The Wallbanks inherited the farm in 1990 and were issued a Chancel Repair Liability bill shortly after by St John the Baptist church, Warwickshire. The bill amounted to approximately $230,000. This bill caught them by surprise since they thought the old law was long gone. They challenged the matter and presented it in a court law. After about 18 years of a legal fight, the court found them liable. They were forced to pay for the repairs, which caused them to auction their house to cater to the bill.

It’s now more than a decade ago, but the Wallbank’s case leaves many property buyers wondering how to go about it to be on the safe side of the law. Chancel repair liability remains an issue among property buyers and owners in England and Wales who sometimes find it hard to understand it. Read on to find out more about this archaic law.

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What Is Chancel Repair Liability?

Chancel repair liability (CRL) is a law imposed on home or property owners in most parts of England and Wales, which requires them to pay repair costs to a church. The church may or may not be their parochial church. A chancel is an area around an altar in a church where the choir and the clergy sit. The law is centred around the property that lies in what was initially church land. It may extend to properties miles away from the church. This makes it hard to ascertain which property is affected and which one is not.

Churches do not often ask for payments, and therefore previous property owners may not be aware that the property has a chancel liability. The church only reaches out to people when it is facing rising repair costs amid dwindling resources. Due to the fact that it is hard for previous owners to ascertain the existence of a Chancel Repair Liability, it is advisable that during the conveyancing process, the property buyers with the help of their conveyancers should conduct a chancel liability search. If they are not sure of the results, the buyer should put in place a chancel repair insurance policy—this indemnity policy safeguards against unforeseen future financial loss from chancel repair claims. Parochial Church Council (PCC) is responsible for initiating the CRL claims.

October 2013 Amendments

Since many innocent homeowners continued to pay for chancel repairs, which they were not aware of during the purchase, the government decided to look into this law in favour of the buyers. Many people anticipated that this archaic law would be abolished. However, the government just made some slight adjustments to protect the homeowners.

On 13 October 2013, the government amended the law requiring church parishes to register notices of Chancel Repair Liability with the Land registry. The registered notices would give them the right to claim repairs even after a property is sold. The Land Registry places the notice issued by the church on the title of the property, and this makes it easy for buyers to identify a property that is subject to a CRL. Other than benefiting the buyers, this law also helps the church in retaining its claim rights for future purposes.

A church that did not register with the Land Registry at the said date did not lose its right to claim chancel repairs from the property owners. The right still holds but can be lost if the ownership of the unregistered property is transferred for a “valuable consideration.” The aspect of valuable consideration means that it is exchanged for money or something else that has value and not as a gift or part of an inheritance.

Property owners need to note that properties acquired after 13 October 2013 and not for a valuable consideration, can still fall at risk of getting a chancel repair claim. This is because the Land Registry continues to register new chancel claims from churches. It is, therefore, the responsibility of the property owner to object to the notice issued if the property is not subject to Chancel Repair Liability. Objecting to such notices and reaching out to the Land Registry to clear them out reduces delays and problems in case you want to sell your property in the future.

Generally, property owners will be liable to pay for CRL under the following circumstances:

  • If the church registers a notice for a property that is in the hands of the same individual who owned it before 13 October 2013
  • You acquired a liable property after 13 October 2013 but not for a valuable consideration
  • If the right to claim was already issued by the Land Registry and it reflects on the title of the property

With the idea about what CRL is and how it works, it is wise to look at some of the questions that property owners ask.

What Should I Do To Avoid Buying an Affected Property?

When you identify a property that you want to purchase, you should conduct an extensive search with the help of your solicitor. The search will help you determine whether the property is listed for a claim or not. Again, if you are not certain of the findings, you can mitigate this risk by taking a chancel repair insurance claim. The claim is mainly a one-off payment.

How Far Away From the Church Should My Property Be?

There is no specific limit when it comes to distance. Both next door property and those miles away from the church can equally be affected. It all depends on the ancient boundaries of the particular church. However, certain property names can give you a clue that you are within church boundaries; they include Glebe, Parsons, Rectory and Vicarage.

Will My Property Be the Only One Liable?

In most cases, the Chancel Repair Liability is usually “joint and several.” Here, one individual can pay for the claims on behalf of the others, as was the case with the Wallbanks. The Parochial Church Council chooses to execute the claims on any property owner of their choice. However, in extreme cases, the affected individual can obtain claim contributions from other liable owners. In most cases, this move does not succeed.

If I Acquire a Property Now, Will It Be Affected by Chancel Repair Liability in the Future?

Yes, you may find yourself responsible for CRL under the following circumstances:

  • The notice of the right to claim appears on the title of the property
  • You acquire a liable property without a valuable consideration, either a gift or as an inheritance
  • The church registers for a claim of an unregistered property that has been in your possession prior 13 October 2013

However, if you acquire a property now and pay for its full market value and no notice of the right to claim had been registered with the Land Registry by 13 October 2013, you will not be liable for CRL. Therefore, ensure that you get all the necessary details regarding the property during conveyancing.

What Should I Do To Protect My Property?

If you got your property at the full market value on or after 13 October 2013 and the title does not display any claim notice, you do not need to take any further actions. However, you should be alert since a church may try to issue a notice on your title through the Land Registry. If, by any chance, you get a Chancel Repair Liability claim, you should reach out to the Land Registry to show that the claim is not valid and have it removed.

Additionally, if you have a property that you received as a gift or inheritance and was subject to claims, you should be prepared to face a CRL either at present or in the future. Get an indemnity insurance policy that covers Chancel repair to mitigate the risk of financial loss. Besides, if the title of your property has notice of claim, you can also get an insurance policy to protect against the unforeseen risk. The amount of the policy varies depending on the type of property (commercial or residential), location, and the indemnity limit.

Conclusion

Chancel repair liability continues to be an issue affecting property buyers and owners in England and Wales. The church may claim it now or at a future date. If it doesn’t fall on you, it may affect your future generation or the buyers of your property. Sometimes it can sum up to a huge amount which can bring about negative financial implications on the affected party.

Therefore, ensure that you know the state of your property concerning Chancel Repair Liability and the amendments made on 13 October 2013. It is important to keep in mind that there lies a continuous risk of the CRL being imposed even if your property is not liable for chancel repair claims. In this case, the burden of validating that your property is not liable for the CRL claim lies in your hands. Conduct enough research during the conveyancing and insure your property against Chancel repair claims to reduce instances of financial loss.

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Are Conveyancers cheaper than Solicitors

Anyone buying or selling a property in the UK will most likely need to hire a conveyancer or a solicitor. The conveyancer or solicitor will handle the whole process, including dealing with complex legal documents and keeping them safe, etc. Because the duties carried out by a conveyancer or a solicitor are essentially the same, many individuals get confused as to who they should hire. When deciding who they should hire, many individuals consider cost as an important factor.

Conveyancers or Solicitors which are cheaper

Are conveyancers cheaper than solicitors, yes normally.

Conveyancers are usually cheaper than solicitors. Conveyancers simply handle the process of conveyancing, which is; transferring legal ownership of property. Solicitors, on the other hand, do not only handle the process of conveyancing but also deal with complex legal issues that may later arise, provide specialized legal advice and other full range of legal services. This is one of the reasons why the fees for a solicitor is higher.

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SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CONVEYANCERS AND SOLICITORS

One important similarity between a conveyancer and a solicitor is that both are regulated and insured. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority while conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Furthermore, both will handle the process of conveyancing in the same way and the duties are essentially the same, for example;

  1. Providing legal advice to the concerned individual involved in the property transaction
  1. Conducting searches of the relevant property, its surrounding area, local authority, etc.
  1. Making contracts
  2. Keeping relevant legal documents safe
  3. Keeping funds safe and transferring them to the relevant party when required

COST OF HIRING A CONVEYANCER

The cost of hiring a conveyancer largely depends upon the following factors:

  • The value of the home
  • The current market rates
  • Whether the property being bought is a freehold property or leasehold property
  • The conveyancer one has chosen

There are two categories of fees to consider; standard fees and disbursements. The standard fee is to be paid to the conveyancer for his/her services and it is usually around £1,000 – £1,500. Disbursement fee has been discussed in detail below.

COST OF HIRING A SOLICITOR

Again, there are two categories of fees to consider; standard fees and disbursements (discussed below). For the standard fee, solicitors in the UK have the option of charging their clients in different ways. They can either charge the client on an hourly basis, have a fixed fee or can charge a percentage of the property’s value.

 

The fee of a solicitor depends upon the amount of work required. For example, some solicitors may charge more if complex legal issues have arisen. The value and location of the property is another relevant factor that may affect the standard fees.

The table shows an estimate of the standard legal fee charged by solicitors and includes value-added tax:

PURCHASE PRICE / VALUE OF THE PROPERTY ESTIMATE SOLICITOR FEE FOR LEASEHOLD PROPERTY ESTIMATE SOLICITOR FEE FOR FREEHOLD PROPERTY
Up to £100,000 £950 – £1,050 £800 – £900
£100,001 to £200,000 £1,000 – £1,200 £800 – £950
£200,001 to £300,000 £1,100 – £1,300 £900 – £1,050
£300,001 to £400,000 £1,300 – £1,400 £1,050 – £1,150
£400,001 to £500,000 £1,300 – £1,500 £1,150 – £1,250
£500,001 to £600,000 £1,400 – £1,600 £1,250 – £1,450
£600,001 to £700,000 £1,500 – £1,700 £1,350 – £1,500
£700,001 to £800,000 £1,700 – £1,900 £1,500 – £1,700
£800,001 to £900,000 £1,800 – £2,100 £1,700 – £1,900
£900,001 to £1,000,000 £2,000 – £2,200 £1,800 – £2,000

It is important to keep in mind that the fees mentioned above are an estimate and just an indication of costs. The fees may vary greatly depending upon the solicitor himself/herself and the kind of services acquired.

An advantage of hiring a solicitor is that he/she has extensive legal knowledge in other relevant areas as opposed to a conveyancer. Furthermore, a solicitor will be equipped to deal with several legal issues if any should arise (for example, selling a small part of the property that belongs to a larger estate or selling a property that has more than one owner, etc.). A disadvantage, on the other hand, is that solicitors have higher fees compared to a conveyancer. Hence, if the transaction is simple and there are no chances of any legal issue arising, then hiring a conveyancer seems like a better idea. Moreover, a conveyancer will probably be more focused compared to a solicitor as the latter may have other clients and duties to prioritize.

DISBURSEMENT FEES

Disbursement fees are usually associated with expenses incurred throughout the process of buying or selling the property by the conveyancer or solicitor on behalf of the relevant individual. These expenses may be incurred by both the solicitor and conveyancer. Following are some of the relevant examples:

 

  1. Search Fees:

The cost is around £250 – £350. It is most relevant when buying a house and involves the conveyancer or solicitor conducting searches with regards to:

  • water and drainage search of the property
  • local authority or local council searches (specifically any rules or laws that may affect the process)
  • a title deed search in the land registry
  • bankruptcy search
  • an environmental search of the property

 

  1. Land Registry Fees for Registration:

This cost is relevant to a purchaser of the property. It involves the conveyancer/solicitor registering the purchaser as a new owner of the property on the land registry. The amount of fees to be paid depends on the value of the house. The conveyancer/solicitor can pay the fees electronically or by post (although it is recommended that the former option be used considering the lower rates). Following are the land registry rates:

 

PURCHASE PRICE / VALUE OF THE PROPERTY POSTAL FEES ELECTRONIC FEES
£0 – £80,000 £40 £20
£80,001 – £100,000 £80 £40
£100,001 – £200,000 £190 £95
£200,001 – £500,000 £270 £135
£500,001 – £1,000,000 £540 £270
£1,000,001 and above £910 £455

 

  1. Land Registry Fees for Documents:

This cost is relevant to both the seller and the purchaser of the property. These documents shall prove who the owner of the property is. The cost is usually around £6.

  1. Stamp Duty:

This is a tax paid to the government (HM Revenue & Customs) for buying a property. Just like the land registry fees, stamp duty is relevant to a purchaser of the property and the amount to be paid depends upon the following factors:

  • value of the property
  • where the property is located
  • whether the purchaser is buying a property for the first time or the second time.

If the purchaser is buying a property for the first time in England, the following rates apply:

PURCHASE PRICE / VALUE OF THE PROPERTY STAMP DUTY RATE APPLICABLE
£0 – £500,000 0%
£500,000 – £925,000 5%
£925,000 – £1,500,000 10%
£1,500,001 and above 12%

If the purchaser is buying a property for the second time in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, the following rates apply:

 

PURCHASE PRICE / VALUE OF THE PROPERTY STAMP DUTY RATE APPLICABLE
£0 – £500,000 3%
£500,000 – £925,000 8%
£925,000 – £1,500,000 13%
£1,500,001 and above 15%

 

If the purchaser is buying a property for the first time in Scotland, the following rates apply:

 

PURCHASE PRICE / VALUE OF THE PROPERTY STAMP DUTY RATE APPLICABLE
£0 – £250,000 0%
£25,001 – £325,000 5%
£325,001 – £750,000 10%
£750,001 and above 12%

 

If the purchaser is buying a property for the second time in Scotland, the following rates apply:

 

PURCHASE PRICE / VALUE OF THE PROPERTY STAMP DUTY RATE APPLICABLE
£0 – £250,000 4%
£25,001 – £325,000 9%
£325,001 – £750,000 14%
£750,001 and above 16%

 

  1. Transfer Fees:

This is the fees with regards to the transferring of funds. This cost is relevant to both purchasers and sellers of property. The cost is usually around £25 – £40.

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Property Conveyancing

For first-time buyers, acquiring a property is often quite an exciting, yet challenging process. There are a lot of prerequisite obligations that one must fulfil to become a legally-recognised property owner. From legal and financial requirements to regulations and paperwork, there is alot that you would need to put together to complete the conveyancing cycle. This is why it is vital to hire an experienced conveyancing solicitor to streamline the process. However, before you dive into conveyancing, you might want to understand how the process works, its cost, and what you need to get started. This guide explains everything that you should know about property conveyancing.

Understanding Conveyancing

Conveyancing is defined as the transfer of the legal ownership or title of a property from one person to another. Usually, conveyancing comprises two principal stages, which include the exchange of contracts and completion. The exchange of contracts stage is where the terms of the transfer are established. The completion phase, on the other hand, is where the legal title is transferred to the new buyer. Like any other legal process, conveyancing has a set of principles that must be adhered to, from inception to the last phase.

 

Generally, property buyers can undertake the conveyancing process by themselves. However, conveyancing can be quite complex and time-consuming. This is because, in some cases, you may be required to have specialist knowledge in specific applications, such as leasehold properties. Additionally, most lenders may demand working with professional solicitors, that is, if you are acquiring your new property through a mortgage. For this reason, most buyers are left without an option but to hire professional solicitors. These are legal practitioners regulated and licensed by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers to act on behalf of the seller or buyer.

How the Conveyancing Process Works

This step by step guide discusses the basics of the conveyancing process, with a highlight of everything that goes into every phase.

Stage One: Hiring a Solicitor or licensed conveyancer

Once you are decided on your interest in buying a property, you will need to hire a conveyancer or solicitor who will act on your behalf throughout the process. At this point, your solicitor will open a new file under your name, outline their terms and charges, and confirm every detail needed for the process. Keep in mind that some conveyancers may be more expensive than others. You might, therefore, want to compare a list of conveyancing service providers before hiring your solicitor. You might also want to work with an expert solicitor who is experienced in handling conveyancing processes. This way, you will be sure your property conveyancing process will go on seamlessly to the completion phase.

Stage Two: Initial Paperwork

Upon accepting your offer to buy the property in question, the seller’s conveyancer will initiate the process by drafting a contract. The contract highlights the price of the property, terms of sale, and the conditions of the deal. You should also be able to get the necessary information regarding the property, including its current status and details of the legal title. Your solicitor will go through the provided paperwork to verify that it is compliant with all the legal requirements.

Stage Three: Survey, Searches, and Enquiries

After carrying out preliminary checks on the initial paperwork, the seller’s conveyancer will issue your solicitor with copies of the property’s title deed and contract. The next thing will be organising a survey on the property you intend to purchase. The purpose of the survey is to establish the status of the property, future development plans of the local area, and other external factors, such as drainage systems. Your solicitor will also carry out searches to ensure that there is no withstanding factor to hinder your enjoyment of the property. For example, a search may establish the property’s exposure to the risk of floods, land contamination, and other environmental factors.

Stage Four: Mortgage Application

This stage is only necessary if you are purchasing the property via a mortgage. At this stage, you will need to provide your lender with every important information regarding the property. The lender will then carry out property valuation to ensure that it is worth the requested mortgage amount. In most cases, the lender will request your solicitor to act on their behalf in carrying certain checks on the property. If all the conditions are adhered to, the mortgage lender will be set to release the funds. Once your solicitor has checked the terms of the mortgage, you will be required to sign the mortgage deed to accept the mortgage offer legally.

Stage Five: Exchange of Contracts

This is one of the most crucial steps of the conveyancing process. It is a commitment by both the buyer and seller to transact the property in question. Withdrawal, breach, or change of terms of the contract may result in severe financial penalties and liability for the damages suffered by the other party.

Before you exchange contracts, your solicitor will provide you with some documents to ensure that you are satisfied with the deal. Such documents include the following;

  • Mortgage deed.
  • A report on the status of the property.
  • Fixtures, fittings, and contents form.
  • Property information.
  • Title information document, etc.

Having fulfilled your legal obligations, signed all the necessary documents, and responded to all enquiries, you can have a mutual agreement on the ideal completion date. In most cases, you might be required to pay a deposit when exchanging contracts, which is often a specified percentage of the property’s total price.

Stage Six: After Exchange of Contracts

Before the completion date, there may be a chain of transactions that require some fixing. This is especially so if there were some matters left pending after the exchange of contracts. Some of these transactions may include the final land registry, signing the transfer deed, and preparation of financial statements.

Stage Seven: Completion

This is the last phase of the conveyancing process. It involves the buyer sending the agreed amount of money to the seller (through their solicitor), after which you are issued the keys to the purchased property. Completion takes place immediately you transfer money to the seller. In most cases, the keys are picked from the responsible estate agent. After completion, your solicitor should also act for you in registering your legal ownership, as well as pay the outstanding Stamp Duty Land Tax (where necessary).

How Long Should the Conveyancing Process Take?

On average, the process of buying a new property should take between 8 and 12 weeks. Here is an example of a breakdown of events that you should expect to experience throughout the conveyancing period.

Week One and Two: Initiating the Process

For the first two weeks, it is expected that the seller will have accepted the offer to sell the property in question. Around this period, the buyer will hire a solicitor, obtain the draft contract, and make any necessary enquiries. You should also be able to apply for a mortgage within these two weeks.

Week Three and Four: Searches and Acceptance of Mortgage Offer

Searches can take quite some time. However, by the fourth week of the conveyancing process, your solicitor should be set to receive all the search results. Once the mortgage lender is satisfied with your application, they should be ready to issue you an offer by the fourth week of application.

Week Five and Six: Pre-Completion

By around the 5th or 6th week, the seller’s solicitor should be ready to send you a property report and the necessary documentation for signing. When all the enquiries have been responded to and the prerequisite documents signed, your solicitor and seller’s conveyancer will agree on a possible completion date. The seller’s conveyancer will need to confirm the viability of a suggested time and date with all the parties within the conveyancing chain.

Week Seven and Eight: Exchanging Contracts

Once the seller and buyer are ready and the solicitors have agreed on a completion date, the next step would be the exchange of contracts. This should happen by the 8th week in the process. This means that the involved parties are ready to get into a legally binding agreement. As a result, both the buyer and the seller should prepare to move into and out of the concerned property, respectively.

Week Nine and Ten: Completion

Around the ninth or tenth week, your solicitor should send the agreed amount to the seller. The seller will then issue the keys to the property through their estate agent or conveyancer, after which the conveyancing process will be considered complete.

Week Eleven and Twelve: Post Completion

By the 11th week, you should be moving into your new house. It is important that you make arrangements with your solicitor to deal with any legal post-completion formality, such as payment of Stamp Duty and ownership registration.

Note: The conveyancing process can take lesser or more time than 12 weeks, depending on the factors surrounding the purchase. Some of the factors that may affect the conveyancing timeline include the following;

  • Breach of Contract. If the seller changes their mind on selling the property in question, the process can be delayed. This is likely to happen before the solicitors get to exchange contracts.
  • Adverse Survey Results. When the search results indicate a condition contrary to your expectations, there may be a need for further investigation or repair, which means more time into the process.
  • Issues with the Title Deed. If there are problems around the property’s title deed, such as missing documents, you may be forced to halt the purchasing process.
  • Conveyancing Chain. The more parties there are in the conveyancing chain, the more time it will take to complete the process. The vice versa is also true.

The Cost of Conveyancing

There is no fixed cost for the conveyancing process. How much you spend in the conveyancing process depends on the type of service you choose. For example, hiring an online conveyancer is typically a cheaper option than traditional solicitors. However, according to research, homeowners are expected to incur conveyancing costs of anywhere between £330 and £1,050.

Generally, a typical conveyancing quote will consist of two types of costs, including the following;

  1. Basic Fee

This is what you pay the solicitor for their time and services, and it can vary depending on the method applied to arrive at the figure. While some conveyancers charge a fixed basic fee, others will require you to pay them on an hourly basis. The latter is often linked to an accumulation of extremely high amounts, and it should be avoided at all costs. The method commonly used by solicitors to calculate the basic conveyancing fee is the sliding scale approach. This is where you pay the solicitor based on the total value of the property in question. This means that the higher the value of the property, the more you are likely to pay.

 

Also, note that the basic fee can be high depending on whether the property concerned is leasehold or freehold. The transfer of ownership of a leasehold property involves a lot of paperwork and documentation, which is why you are bound to pay more.

  1. Disbursements

These are the fixed costs incurred by the solicitor throughout the conveyancing process. The fact that disbursements are fixed means that they should be the same across all quotes, regardless of who is offering you the service.

Here is a highlight of disbursements that you should expect to pay when purchasing a property.

  • Land registry (£4 to £8)

This is the cost of land registry office copies that you incur when doing a search on the authenticity of the property you intend to purchase. This should inform you whether the seller is the legal owner of the property.

  • HMLR Final Search (£3 to £7)

This is a search, usually the final one, carried out before the completion date.

  • Bankruptcy Search (£2 to £4)

This is one of the few formal searches that a mortgage lender may require you to undertake before issuing you a loan. The purpose of a bankruptcy search is to confirm that you have not been declared bankrupt in the recent past.

  • Environment Search (£30 to £35, exclusive of tax)

This search evaluates the environmental status of the ground surrounding the property concerned.

  • Local Authority Searches

A local authority search protects you from local development plans that may affect your ownership or status of your property after you have moved in. The cost of these searches varies from one Borough to the other. However, you can expect to pay a fee ranging between £100 and £200.

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax

Every property buyer in the UK is subject to a land tax, which is calculated on the basis of the property’s total cost. The Stamp Duty Land tax is paid based on the tax band within which the value of the property in question lies. This tax is only applicable to properties with a valuation exceeding £125,000. Here is a breakdown of the various tax bands and the expected rate of Stamp Duty.

Value of the Property

 

Percentage Rate

 

Up to £125,000

 

0%

 

£125,001 to £250,000

 

2%

 

£250,001 to £925,000

 

5%

 

£925,001 to £1.5 Million

 

10%

 

Above £1.5 Million

 

12%

 

Rates from 8 July 2020 to 31 March 2021 (England)

 

Property or lease premium or transfer value SDLT rate
Up to £500,000 Zero
The next £425,000 (the portion from £500,001 to £925,000) 5%
The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) 10%
The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million) 12%

 

Wales

The current LTT threshold is £250,000 for residential properties purchased at the main rates and £150,000 for non-residential land and properties.

  • Electronic ID Verification (£2 to £18)

This is the cost you incur to confirm your ID documentation and current address to your solicitor.

  • Telegraphic Transfer (£25 to £45, exclusive of tax)

This is the cost that your bank will charge to transfer money from your account to that of the property seller or seller’s solicitor.

  • Water and Drainage Search (£30 to £40, exclusive of tax)

This is the cost you incur to confirm that the property you intend to purchase is to sewers and fresh water systems. Although the cost varies with different water companies, it should not fall far from the £30-£40 range.

  • Mortgage Handling (£60 to 80)

Your solicitor may charge you for the legal and paperwork involved in the process of setting up a mortgage.

  • Land Registration (£20 to £910)

For you to be registered as the new legal owner of the concerned property, you may be required to pay an amount ranging from £20 to £910, depending on the value of the property. Here is a breakdown of what you should expect to pay for the registration of property ownership.

 

Property Value

 

Electronic Fee

 

Postal Fee

 

Above £1 Million

 

£455

 

£910

 

£500,001 to £1 Million

 

£270

 

£540

 

£200,001 to £500,000

 

£135

 

£270

 

£100,001 to £200,000

 

£95

 

£190

 

£80,001 to £100,000

 

£40

 

£80

 

Below £80,000

 

£20

 

£40

 

If you would like an instant property conveyancing quote, them complete our online conveyancing quote form.

 

Remortgage conveyancing quotes

What is  remortgage conveyancing

Conveyancing is the process of transferring the legal title of real property from one person to another. It can also be defined as the process of granting an encumbrance like a mortgage. On the other hand, a remortgage is a process of paying off one mortgage with the proceeds from using the very property as security. Therefore, remortgage conveyancing refers to the legal processes of remortgaging. They need to be handled by a solicitor. When remortgaging, you may need a conveyancing solicitor, especially if there are legal transactions involved.

Remortgage Conveyancing quote

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Why do you need a conveyancer for the remortgaging process?

Whether or not you need a conveyancer for the process depends on the terms of the remortgaging and circumstances. For instance, if you are looking to stay with the same lender and come up with a new mortgage deal, you may not need legal conveyancing services. However, if you are looking to switch from one lender to another completely, then you need a remortgage conveyancer. The role of the conveyancer in this scenario is to assist with the removal of the interest on the property form one lender to the other.

Remortgage conveyancing is faster than the ordinary conveyancing process for buying or selling a property. The remortgaging solicitor should be done with the process after a few weeks. The reason why it is faster is that;

  • There is no buyer or seller. This means that there are fewer delays while waiting for responses.
  • Most lenders only need a regulated local authority search or an indemnity policy. This means that there is no need for several weeks of work on official searches.

The fact that the process is faster means that the costs of remortgage conveyancing should also be less. In this post, we discuss the ins and outs of remortgage conveyancing quotes.

How much does remortgage conveyancing cost?

Many mortgage providers offer free legal services for clients that are looking to switch their mortgages over to them. However, the firms only do this to entice people to take the deal. Taking the free services is not always a good idea. What happens is that the lenders hire certain law firms to handle all their transactions for a lower cost. This means that the firms have a lot of work to handle because the lenders deal with a lot of clients at the same time. Many are times when these free services end up costing you more. The firms end up being very slow or providing bad services because they are overwhelmed, and they are not getting paid enough for the services. For this reason, it is always wise to consider getting an independent conveyancer to handle your legal work. Of course, the costs will be higher, but the services will also be better.

Factors that affect remortgaging conveyancing costs

Below are some remortgaging conveyancing costs to look out for when comparing prices from various solicitors as well as conveyancing companies;

  • Legal fees- the legal aspect of conveyancing is the most significant. The legal work takes up a majority of the costs of the conveyancing process. First, a legal firm has to be hired to take care of the legal work. The charges also depend on how long the process takes and whether or not there are any legal complications that may require a lot of work.
  • ID Checks- if you are looking to pay off part of your existing mortgage, the solicitor will need to check the source of any of the funds that you are using. This check is a mandatory requirement by the law. It is intended to prevent cases like money laundering. Therefore, the legal firm you hire will need to identify and verify anybody that is involved in the remortgage process. The costs of the process have to be catered for by you.
  • Bankruptcy searches- in the process of remortgaging a property, the lender usually insists on searches against the name of the remortgage in the land charges register. This check aims to reveal is any of the remortgages are currently experiencing bankruptcy or are about to be made bankrupt. This process also costs a considerable amount of money.
    Office copies and title plan- the conveyancer is also tasked with the role of obtaining an official copy of the title deeds or the tittle plan from the official land registry. The copies are used to confirm the details of the property that you want to remortgage. This process is also a tad bit costly.
  • TT fees- Telegraphic Transfer fees, also known as TT fees, are those that are incurred when the solicitor has to electronically transfer any money from your new mortgage lender to the existing one. You will be changed to make sure that the transfer of funds is safely done on your behalf.
  • Land registry fees- Your solicitor is also tasked with the role of filing and informing the land registry of your new arrangements with your new mortgage lender and the savoured agreement with the previous one. The land registry imposes certain fees for the filling process. You may also be required to pay a fee to update the land registry with any new information about your property.

The number of searches you will be required to perform on your property depends on your new mortgage lender and their demands. Most solicitors opt to take out insurance indemnity policies as opposed to playing the conveyancing mentioned above property searches and several others. By doing so, the process becomes relatively cheaper, and the remortgage lenders are easily satisfied. This, therefore, keeps them from making further demands and requests that would otherwise cost more money.

Finding the best remortgage solicitor  quotes

The first thing you should do when choosing a remortgage conveyancer is to find one that is licensed and approved or regulated to handle the process of remortgaging. The internet is a good place to start when looking for such services. Start by compiling a list of remortgage conveyancing lawyers and firms. You can then proceed to compare the fees of the expert remortgage companies and lawyers. You should be able to get an instant quotation from the online sources. However, make sure to compare the costs to the services that are being offered. Look out for any hidden charges and additional fees.

Also, make sure that the solicitor is approved by the new mortgage lender you are looking to work with. If you happen to hire the services of a firm or lawyer that is not authorized by your new lender, you risk ending up paying extra fees. The lender imposes the costs for an approved lender panel solicitor that will be used to represent them in the process. Therefore, it would be wiser to get quotations that allow you to specify your lender hence find a solicitor that is approved by the lender.

Conclusion

Note that you do not need a local solicitor to handle your remortgaging process. Since most conveyancing services are remote, you can always get one that isn’t local to you as long as the lender approves it. The wise decision would be to choose a lender (local or not) that will complete the process fast and one that will not provide shady services.

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The content of this article is intended to be used as general information only and should not be used or deemed to be legal advice. We do not accept responsibility for any loss sustained as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. You should always seek legal advice.

Pulling out of a House Purchase Before Exchange

One of the questions many buyers and sellers ask is, at what point can I pull out of a transaction? First, understand that many times, buyers look to purchase homes with the intention of selling their current properties; unless they are first-time buyers. This process is referred to as a property chain. Should one link of this chain face a glitch, the rest of it is likely to fall apart.

Pulling out of a House Purchase Before Exchange

For the buyer to sell their property quickly, they need the whole chain to remain intact. The reason many buyers, however, back out of a purchase deal may vary from a mortgage offer to developing cold feet. However, all of this results in a costly process. So, to avoid unfavourable consequences, what should be done?

Withdrawal Before the Exchange of Contracts

Until the exchange of contracts in England and Wales, both the buyer and seller of the home can pull out of the deal without incurring serious costs. However we look into this further to provide the full picture.

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Should you decide to withdraw from an offer before exchanging contracts, you may face charges. A seller, for instance, must check the existing terms with an estate agent. If the estate agent discovers that the potential buyer has the capacity and the willingness to purchase the property you wish to withdraw from, they will charge you a certain fee. The buyer and the seller should also check with the conveyancer about the terms of the retainer.

The primary stage in the process of conveyancing is the exchange of contracts between the buyer and seller. It acts as a contractual agreement to the completion of the transfer of the title on a certain future date, which is known as completion. During this exchange, the buyer is expected to pay a 10 percent deposit of the purchase price. The 90 percent fee is paid on the day of completion agreed upon prior to the exchange.

Before the date of completion, a lot happens. Huge sums of money are spent and a considerable amount of time spent in finding out if any party has any reason to back out of the deal. Understand that if the conveyancers have also started working on the transaction and it fails to complete, you will be charged on an hourly basis. If the conveyancer has incurred any disbursements, they will also be subject to recompense. Buyers who back out of the deal do not recover both the lender valuation fees and mortgage consultant fees.

When do Buyers Withdraw their Offers?

Before selling a property, sellers begin by looking for an estate agent, a solicitor and listing their property for sale. A potential buyer then views the property and puts an offer. As soon as the seller accepts the offer, the buyer’s solicitor then investigates potential problems with the home before making a purchase. The mortgage company then does valuation and a survey on the property.

At the end of this investigation and before the signing of the contract, most buyers back out due to genuine reasons. Two main reasons lead to this decision, including:

  • The finances of the buyer being inadequate
  • The buyer finding another property or changing their mind

Issues highlighted in the survey may also influence the decision. For instance, if the property is found to have leaking issues or a roof that needs to be replaced, the buyer may need to renegotiate the price. Should the seller be unwilling to alter their offer, the buyer may choose to withdraw.

Note, if the buyer and the seller come into terms and the buyer decides to back out, the seller may choose to go to court and claim that the property buyer is in breach of contract. This could include paying for the seller’s expenses. The seller could ask for compensation for finding another buyer. Before putting an offer on any property, it is advisable to be 100 percent sure that you will afford the property and are willing to make a purchase.

Withdrawal After Contracts are Exchanged

Should a buyer or a seller choose to back out of a contract after it has been completed, the consequence will be treated as a breach of the terms of the legally-binding contract. In such instances, the party not at fault may choose to issue a Notice to Complete.

This notice gives the other side a period of 10 days to complete. The party is expected to pay a daily interest rate. Understand that both parties must complete regardless of who is at fault. This is because even if you are not at fault, you could still be in default. If you fail to complete, the following are some of the consequences to expect:

  • The property seller could re-sell it alongside all contents within the contract
  • When the buyer fails to complete, the seller will have the right to end the contract and keep the 10 percent deposit of the sale price
  • The seller may claim damages
  • Should the seller fail to complete, the buyer will be entitled to end the contract, leaving the seller liable to compensate the buyer with the daily interest within the period of the Notice to Complete
  • The party in default has the right to sue the defaulting side for breach of contract and demand recompense of losses
  • If the buyer is at fault, the seller may claim market depreciation losses

What Could Go Wrong on the Completion Day?

Several things could go wrong on the completion day and lead to delay in moving in or a complete fail. On this day, three things happen:

  1. The mortgage lender hands the mortgage to the buyer’s solicitor
  2. The solicitor then organises the transfer of the money to the seller
  3. The seller hands over the keys

This may seem like not too much, but several issues could develop on this day, some of which could lead to the breach of the contract. If on this day, for instance, one party is willing to complete, but the other is not, legally, the contract would face a breach. The Notice to Complete imposes a compensation fee on the party that defaults.

In some cases, the conveyancer could claim that the completion was delayed by at least a day. For instance, if they receive the completion after 2:00 PM or 1:00 PM according to the agreement of the contact, it could be rolled over to the next day. More so, the party serving the notice could claim other fees and argue that they arose from the failure of the completion or delay. The following costs could be claimed:

  • Storage costs: Most sellers have to move their items to a storage facility
  • Mortgage interest: Should, the buyer have their mortgage fees halted as they ready themselves for the completion and the seller fails to complete; the buyer may ask for a reimbursement fee to cover the interest charged
  • Lost income: If the buyer would have rent out their property and the buyer fails to complete, the seller may demand for compensation
  • Accommodation: The breaching party will be required to cover any hotel fees

What if the conveyancing solicitor is at fault? You might ask. The breaching party could argue that the solicitor was at fault for their failure to complete. Usually, the conveyancer solicitor is responsible for allowing the exchange of contracts. The completion day is then set only when:

  • There are sufficient funds for the exchange
  • The property is ready on the day of completion

In some occasions, the house on sale is usually occupied by a tenant, meaning it is not in a position to be re-occupied. If the seller’s solicitor was aware of the situation before the completion, the seller may then seek compensation from the solicitor for causing them to be contractually bound. At such a point, the seller will need to raise a complaint with the law firm. The buyer could also claim:

  • Conveyancing costs
  • Costs of taking out a mortgage
  • Costs of property survey
  • Costs of searches
  • Building insurance costs

The buyer should not just receive their deposit but recompense for any interests attracted by the deposit from the date of the exchange. If you are a buyer considering to pull out an exchange, decide if the deposit is worth losing. For a seller considering to sell quickly, notice that potential buyers will be curious to find out why you are in so much hurry to sell to take advantage of the benefits that come with pulling out of an exchange.

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How can you Reduce the Risk?

There are certain things you can do to protect yourself from the pain of losses experienced when pulling out of an exchange. Whether it is a change of heart, circumstance or the fault of your solicitor, it can be tough to protect yourself from a failed completion. Below, we tell you what you can do,

Reduce the Exchange and the Completion Time

The longer the time taken between an exchange and completion, the higher the chances of either side pulling out. The solution is to limit the time to the minimum period. If possible, you could exchange and complete on the same day.

Evict Tenants Before the Exchange

Before the completion takes place, ensure that your property is vacant. Should you fail to evict your tenant before the day of completion, you would be breaching the contract. If you still have your property occupied, halt the completion.

Have an In-Date Mortgage Offer Before the Exchange

Before the exchange, as a buyer, ensure that you have the capacity to pay for the property. It is for this reason that most solicitors do not allow buyers to buy a property before getting a mortgage offer. A mortgage offer is necessary for contracts lasting up to 6 months and could expire before the property is built. If you do not have a mortgage offer, you run the risk of needing to get one when served with the notice of completion. Understand that the notice of completion has a grace period of only 10 days, failure to which you could end up losing your deposit fee.

Limit Losses

After the exchange of the contract, the risk of the transaction failing to complete is minimal. However, there are things you could do to limit potential risk. For instance, it is advisable to have some legal cover, in case a transaction falls through. Also, look for insurance providers who can protect you when a transaction fails. The cost of losing your 10 percent deposit may not be covered by the insurance policy, but you could insure your conveyancer search costs and mortgage valuation. If at the point of getting your insurance cover you have incurred several costs, check if the policy could reclaim any of it.

Both the buyer and the seller can pull out of a deal before the exchange of contracts without having to incur major costs. However, if the party that did not pull out sustains other losses within this period such as the conveyancing fee, mortgage costs, survey costs, rental charges, among others, nothing could stop them from suing for breach of contract.

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The content of this article is intended to be used as general information only and should not be used or deemed to be legal advice. We do not accept responsibility for any loss sustained as a result of acts or omissions taken in respect of this article. You should always seek legal advice.

What is Lender Exchange

Lender exchange refers to a service that is a creation of Decision First whose intention was to facilitate easy interactions among lenders and solicitors. The intent was to help in the reduction of risk that is brought about by fraud as it offers a safe portal that can be used in the exchange of useful information.

Who is using the Lender Exchange

Currently, lenders that are on board include Lloyds Banking Group, Santander, Royal Bank of Scotland Group as well as HSBC Bank. The safe web portal is meant to address the concern of having multiple lenders seek the same data offered by law firms as a way of managing the different conveyancing panels under them.

It makes it possible for the submission of data by law firms through a single, secure system where lenders who are part of the scheme can access data that, in turn, allows them manage different panels independently.

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The Genesis of Lender Exchange

Recently, mortgage lenders struggled with major risks caused by fraud surrounding mortgages, which led to massive losses. As such, lenders have been on the lookout for additional information that law firms supply regarding the operations of their business, as well as about the employed individuals.

Decision First took the bold step to develop this famous Lender Exchange, which enables law firms with offering their lenders the right information for the management of their panels better. This move aimed to meet all added regulatory requirements that lenders are expected to match as a conduct being alert before engaging in any transaction.

Law firms also tend to benefit by having to supply the needed information only once and the centralized point helps, thus majorly reducing impacts of having to deal with several requests.

Can Lenders appoint unregistered conveyancers to be part of panels without having to be registered?

Lenders have the option of choosing their panel composition. Lenders that sign up, meet mandatory conditions required for panel membership, including the need for firms to submit information through Lender Exchange platform.

How do Clients Benefit?

Several gains result from using Lender Exchange. Lender Exchange website came into existence to fix the problem of more than one lender needing to access the same content from relevant law firms in order for them to better manage their own conveyancing panels, it was also driven by the need for lenders to minimize their risks. Many lenders are paying more attention on using Lender Exchange which means that law firms also gain in the process because they get to supply their content one time as opposed to when they would do it repetitively.

One of the most important gains is reduced administration. The platform is specifically designed to reduce or eliminate delays for clients. Before, a lot of bureaucracy led to delays that interfered with proper business execution.

According to the system, lenders can send varied mortgage offers targeting solicitors via electronic means. Adopting the electronic channels helps quicken the process compared to the older Document Exchange or postal service.

Conveyance companies tend to be well-equipped to receive documents electronically, meaning that they can efficiently handle documents they receive via Lender Exchange Usually, mortgages offers are often followed by forms that include Mortgage Deeds, that are provided to clients for them to append their signatures.

Before the existence of Lender Exchange, offers would be without necessary accompanying documents, which would, in turn, trigger avoidable delays since solicitors would be forced to ask for the forms independently. The Lender Exchange’s task is to make standard documents like Mortgage Deeds. They also ensure that the Mortgage consent forms can easily be accessed and downloaded. The possibility of manually downloading forms makes it possible for solicitors to prevent delays.

While not many clients may not know about Lender Exchange, it is still possible for them to benefit when they make use of this effective system. Having to wait until lenders are able to procure mortgage documents may result in unnecessary and avoidable delays, not to mention the stress that comes with it, hence hurting clients. This platform is a representation of a newer communication channel that can help deal with the said delays.

Why are Many People not Signing Up

One may wonder why many conveyance companies are not already on board yet this seems to be an excellent service. Decision First has been active in carrying out discussions concerning Lender Exchange. The company is speaking to many lenders, and may not be able to influence how fast they sign up to the platform.

Some companies have accepted the move faster than others. Apart from the slow signing up, other lenders are already using diverse panel organization techniques including the use of personalized panels, and their governance procedures may vary significantly from other lenders.

Payment of Services

The charging criteria depend on the firm’s size. They are often gauged by how many partners are involved, the members on board, or the directors running the organization, and whether they specialize in conveyancing. The annual fee goes towards the system administration regardless of how many lenders panels a firm applies to. An annual fee expected is fixed in the first three years.

Firms pay the administration charge is annually by direct debits. The fee payable is based on the number of partners, directors, or employed members at the time of renewal basis. Firms need to note that they the charges are done annually and the payment covers12 months.

Any firm that wants to join midway is charged but only for the remaining period. They will make full payments when they renew. The charge will cover a renewal cost that is remitted each year that signed-up lenders will depend on the system for the administration of their panels.

Firms should know that the amount they pay is not a pass to join panels. Instead, the charge is meant to cover the administration of the system as well as information validation on behalf of lenders. The moment the data is processed, lenders can decide whether to appoint or reappoint a firm.

How law firms can apply to Lender’s Panel

Law firms can use two possible options.

  1. Firms that already exist on the system – When logged in, it is possible for firms to continue with navigating to the Panels screen and choose the affected lenders when they tick or check the checkbox. Ensure that all the information is updated, and your application should be submitted through the Home page link. In case a lender does not exist on the list, then the required minimum criteria is unmet hence no application is allowed.
  2. Firms that are unregistered – In this case, the firm first needs to be registered. They will then be required to answer some pre-qualification quizzes that determine the lenders they are allowed to apply. It is then required to choose a preferred lender from the list of many then they are to be supplied with credentials so that they log in and get done registering. When a lender does not appear on the list, it means that they are not accepted to apply.

All applications are not guaranteed. In fact, sometimes lenders need mortgage applications to have commenced before they can review the application.

Reasons to Sign Up for Lender Exchange

The scheme intends to help reduce overheads on panel firms by offering a solution that allows for the provision and validation of information in one reliable central place. This guarantees reduced risks to lenders who would otherwise have to introduce independent panel charges to recover from the increasing cost of administering private panels.

This would translate to an unnecessary but significant burden for organizations, making it a costly affair. When the system is adopted by lenders, lenders and law firms end up being the major beneficiaries since the use of a centralized point of information for easy collection. This prevents the need for firms to regularly provide similar information to multiple lenders repeatedly.

Additionally, lenders and law firms can easily communicate through a provided mailbox. This direct contact makes it possible for them to save time and effort that would go into tracking down the right person to respond to every query regarding panel membership and panel applications.

In a nutshell, Lender Exchange offers the following gains:

  • Reduced administration, which means that more lenders can access relevant information firsthand. Lenders also get to learn about the latest information on property purchases and sales.
  •  Simplified fee structure. The solution is cost-effective because the system is under one roof.
  • Continuous customer choice. Panel sizes can be maintained because extra legal fees are minimized significantly.
  • Improved communication. Information exchange has been simplified, making it quick and easy to access relevant information.
  • Ability to access current information. Members have a choice to change their standard mortgage documents without having to worry about the legal issues.

Lender exchange remains to be a system that has more benefits than downsides. While many people may not have joined it for one reason or another, those that have to continue to thrive and enjoy the gains that come with it.

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Instant online conveyancing quote

Get an instant online conveyancing quote

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My Conveyancing Specialist can provide you with an instant online conveyancing quote which will be displayed online, and a full cost quote emailed to you. We can provide you with an instant quote for house purchase only which is buying without a sale.  Sales only which is just selling a property and purchase and sale if selling and buying a new property. We also offer you a quote if you just wish to remortgage  a property. We can also help with Transfer of Equity which is when a jointly owned property is transferred to a single one of those owners. A transfer of equity is the addition or removal of a person to the deeds of the property, and we can provide an instant online quote.

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When buying or selling a property it is both an exciting time, but can also be a stressful time with so many things to organise.

Our service is here to make this move less stressful and ensure it proceeds in a timely and professional manner. By using our instant online conveyancing quote calculator, you can save both time and money on your property move. Our system will put you in touch with a licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor who will ensure the properties involved are legally registered and transferred in a timely manner, and that all legal requirements and searches are carried out.

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What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process of transferring a property from the initial owner to a new owner; in this case, you who is buying the property. The process involves a licensed conveyancer who takes the place of a buyer and ensures the buyer receives the title deed of the house and the land the home sits on. Generally, conveyancing encompasses administrative and legal work necessary that make a buying process legitimate and viable under the law.

Conveyancing is a three-stage process which includes;

  1. Pre-contract
  2. Pre-completion
  3. and post-completion

The conveyancer will deal with the whole process ensuring they continually communicate with seller’s lawyers and alerting you of important dates you should be in attendance.

They also fill up documents on your behalf after enquiring with you. Yet, you can fill the documents yourself and save several dollars, which might turn bad for you as you may lose your house. However, if you work with a conveyancer and they make a mistake, their professional indemnity insurance will cover you.

The Process of Conveyancing

The House buying process is different each time you want to purchase a new house. The method also differs from one country to another. So does conveyancing. But, some things about conveyancing are similar across all countries. So let’s take a look.

Step 1- Find a Solicitor Conveyancer

Immediately you decide to buy or sell a house; you need to contact the best conveyancer in your area or the province in which the house is at. The advantage of informing your conveyancer as you begin house hunting or buyer hunting is that they are ready to jump in and proceed with legal issues regarding your house. They open a file, send you a composition of charges you’ll incur, and ask all the information they need to proceed with their work.

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Step 2- Making Enquiries and Other Searches

Once the buying or selling process is underway, your conveyer will receive copies of the legal title deed and that of the contract. At this point, the solicitor will confirm regarding the agreement, and the title deed is correct and asks questions if they arise.

The solicitor then proceeds to search whether there is anything that will stop the buyer from enjoying the use of the new property or something that might prevent a lender from lending you money against the property. It’s worth noting that the solicitor may carry out some searches and leave others as they are optional.

 Step 3- Obtaining Your Mortgage

If you’re buying a house and need to apply for a mortgage, the conveyancer must provide the correct information about the house; otherwise, it might lead to the lender reconsidering their decision to lend you money.

Remember, the lender might carry an independent house valuation and might come across the information you leave behind. The lender may also ask your conveyancer to conduct to check certain things about the house by complying with specific conditions. In this case, it’s essential that their finding ties up to the results they gave you when you employed them.

Step 4- Signing Contracts

Signing the contracts is the most critical step in the conveyancing process. Why? It prepares you or keeps you in readiness of exchange of contract, which is also a crucial step in conveyancing. So you conveyancer will send you copies of necessary documents including;

  • A mortgage deed
  • Fixtures, fittings and contents forms
  • Title information document and plan
  • Property seller information form
  • A report about the key thing of the property you’re purchasing

At this point, you need to check whether all answers have been answered satisfactorily and whether the anti-money laundering is also checked. You’ll also be required to make your first payment deposit as it’s a requirement when exchanging contracts.

Step 5 – Exchanging Contracts

Exchanging contracts involve conveyancers from the buyer’s side and the seller. Both must have completed searching and looking at replies to enquiries, have signed documents and other things regarding legal matters of a house. They then have to agree on the date of completion.

Step 6 – Completion

The completion stage requires your conveyancer to arrange for funds and conduct final searches. Funds are transferred from the lender to the seller on the day of completion, and it all depends on the number of conveyancers involved in the chain. You can then pick your property keys from the real estate agent.

After the process of completion is done, your conveyancer will deal with the registration of homeownership and payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax.

Do you feel confident you can do the above? Well, too bad, there is much of the unmentioned information. As we said, the house buying process is overwhelming, and it’s often unnoticeable because someone else does all the work.

So What Does a Conveyancing Solicitor Do?

Earlier, we mentioned a conveyancer carries out administrative and legal matters of a house to ensure the process is smooth for you. Let’s look deeply at what their job entails.

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For a buyer, the conveyancer will do the following:

  • Check the house title and arrange for searches of the property in question. The title is an important document- so the solicitor looks at this document more carefully.
  • Evaluate and understand what you’re looking for and the timeline you have
  • Work harmonically with sellers conveyancer to proceed with transactions
  • Make enquires on your behalf to flatten all outstanding issues
  • Evaluate mortgage offer and deal with other special conditions of the same
  • Report to you and feed you with key information and other documents
  • Arrange when you’ll exchange contracts with the seller set completion date
  • Prepare you for completion
  • Prepare a financial statement indicating what the conveyancer will need to complete the exchange and completion stages
  • Create and submit a tax return and transfer funds to the correct stamp duty
  • Register that you own the house with the land registry

 

For a seller, a conveyancer will do the following;

 

  • Finalise legal documents
  • Represent you while dealing with the buyer – this includes asking for an extension and title deed questions.
  • Prepare and issue contract papers
  • Arrange when transfer deed will be signed.
  • Exchange contract
  • Deal with completion immediately; the buyer receives the money. The buyer has to also release the house keys

How Do You Choose a Conveyancer?

See how you interview real estate agents? That’s how much time and resources you should apply when finding the best conveyancer.

Start by asking your friends, family, and neighbours for the recommendation of good conveyancers. If nothing comes out of this process, move online- it rich with reliable information.  Make a list of prospect conveyancers and give them a call. This process will help you eliminate some conveyancers and remain with a few. Moreover, conveyancers specialize in specific real estate, and you can use this factor to narrow down to conveyancers who specialise in the type of real estate you want to invest in.

Here are some questions you can use to narrow made your list of prospect conveyancers.

 

  • What types of real estate do you deal with?
  • How much will I spend? What are your charges, and are there other hidden costs?
  • How will you relay information, and how often?
  • How long will the process take to reach the completion stage?
  • Do you belong to any conveyancers group, and which one?

Searches Involved in Conveyancing

We’ve mentioned the term search several times above. But what does it entails? Here, we look at the things your conveyancer will search in regards to your property, as it is crucial you understand what you’ll be paying for. Below are the mandatory searches, but your conveyancer might recommend more depending on whether they are viable.

Environmental: this search will confirm whether the property is prone to flooding and land contamination.

Chancel repair liability: chancel search confirms whether you’re liable to contribute to local church repair funds depending on the amount of land you buy.

Coal mining: the search identifies whether the land occupied by the property has been affected by historical, existing, and future coal mining activities.

Water drainage: is the property connected to the main drainage and public sewers.

Local authority: this search provides information regarding road works, planning issues, and railway proximity as they all affect your enjoyment of the home you’re buying.

How Long Does Conveyancing Process Take?

The conveyancing process can take a few days or months, depending on the number of people involved in a process. Individual factors also play a part in the length of the conveyancing process. However, there are things neither you nor the solicitor can do, and thus, the process can go for months. Suppose the property in question has been passed to several buyers. If the chain of people is long, so does their requirement. You’ll, therefore, find a person who wants an adverse survey while the other lacks a mortgage. You have to wait until all of you are on the same conveyancing stage before proceeding to the next.

Let’s see the typical conveyancing timeline, which you can compare to when buying a property.

Conveyancing Timeline

 

Week 1-2

You find a conveyancer, and he/she accepts your offer. After that, he/she embarked on overseeing the house purchasing process. The solicitor will start with acquiring contract copies from the seller’s lawyer or representative. He/she must ask for clarification if the need arises. Meanwhile, you’ll be looking for lenders or apply for a mortgage.

Week 3-4

The solicitor begins searches including the must-do, and other recommended searches if need be. The representative of the property has to answer queries raised about the contract. The buyer’s conveyancer then reviews the answers of the seller and searches. During this period, expect lenders offer if the findings are as per their requirement or are satisfactory.

Week 5-6

The conveyancer confirms everything with the documents is valid and then sends them to you for signing. The buyer has to agree on continuing the buying of the property before the conveyancer set the completion date. He/she will also inform the buyer whether the other party is ready for contract exchange.

Week 7-8

A completion date is set, and both the seller and the buyer agree to it. It is at this point that you and the seller commit to a legal agreement as you exchange contracts.

Week 9-10

During this period, you complete your payment to your conveyancer. He/she then proceeds to send complete funds to the seller’s conveyancer. On the completion date, the seller has to vacate the house – it is usually during lunch break. Your solicitor also has to complete post-contract deals such as registration of property ownership and payment of SDLT.

Can You Speed Up the Conveyancing Process?

A solicitor tries and works within your timeline. They are efficient, but it’s up to you to speed up the process where necessary. For example, you can be asked to provide funds and documents and take weeks and expect the process will take a shorter time. So here are the things you can do to speed up the process.

  1. Release funds and documents when requested
  2. Sign documents as the conveyancer instruct; otherwise, you’ll have to redo the whole step after waiting for several days before receiving another copy of the papers.
  3. Show evidence of your funds when requested.
  4. Address your lender’s special conditions because until then, they can’t release the funds.
  5. Provide acceptable evidence of your ID when requested.

How Much Will You Spend in Conveyancing Process?

How much should you spend on conveyancing? The answer to this question depends on whether you’re selling or buying and whether the property is on freehold or leasehold. Other factors also apply. These include;

  • Land registry fee
  • SDLT
  • Searches and disbursements
  • The complexity of the service
  • Property price
  • The area in which the property is

To illustrate, the average conveyancing cost for buyers in the UK is £1,040 and £1,000 for the seller of the freehold property. This fee applies to the average price of houses across the UK, which is £232,797 as of 2020.

Hiring a conveyancer is crucial as they are the people that pay disbursements on your behalf. But, looking at the total fee can be daunting yet convenient when you look at the breakdown of the expenses.

Conveyancing fee is the amount you spend to hire the conveyancer, including the cost they’ll transact on your behalf. Some of the disbursements cost for buyer include;

  • Stamp duty (The current SDLT threshold is £125,000 for residential properties)

If you buy a house for £275,000 the SDLT you owe is calculated as follows:

0% on the first £125,000 = £0

2% on the next £125,000 = £2,500

5% on the final £25,000 = £1,250

Total SDLT = £3,750

(England Only)

Full details on stamp duty see, read more

Stamp duty in Wales, read more

  • Bank transfer fees £40
  • Environmental searches
  • Local authority searches
  • Drainage search
  • Land Registry registration fee (depends on property price)
  • Land document registry fee £6

For the seller, you’ll spend the following on disbursements

  • Bank transfer £40
  • Land registry document £6

Remember, the conveyancing fee may vary from the above depending on solicitor you hire. However, let the above act as a guide.

When Can You Pay Conveyancing Fee?

 

Most conveyancers will request money immediately; they agree to offer you their services. Considering they need money to pay for searches, you need to pay a deposit with which they’ll use to make payment for disbursements.  The only fee you can make after the completion of the process of transfer of property is the land registry. The price may seem absurd, so its best you ask for a breakdown of fees to find out exactly what amount you’re spending in each step.

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Solicitor Fees for Selling a House

Selling a house is more work than most people assume. There are several things to consider before you put your home on sale. First, you have to determine what would be the best asking price. Coming up with the asking price is also not as easy. You have to consider the cost at which you acquired or constructed the house. The current condition of the house, how old it is, the state of the real estate market and the neighbourhood should also be considered. Whether or not your house has been renovated in the near past is also a factor to consider. Once you have come up with the best asking price, you also need to consider the cost of moving out of the house, how you will advertise the house, and the kind of professional assistance you need. For instance, you may need to employ a solicitor.

Solicitors Fees

When selling a house, you must hire either a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer unless you have the legal qualifications as well. A solicitor is a legal worker whose role is to deal with all the legal matters. A solicitor has to have legal qualifications and documentation. When it comes to selling a house, a solicitor or conveyancer takes care of all the legal affairs involved. The reason why you should hire a solicitor is that he will help you handle all the real estate dealings and make the process both safe and swift. However, note that a solicitor will not in any way help you find a buyer for your house any faster or slower. He also does not handle any issues outside the legal affairs related to house selling. A solicitor will guarantee that your home sale is permitted. A solicitor is also responsible for how fast the selling process will be completed, especially the paperwork.

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How Much does it Cost to Hire a Solicitor?

 

The work of a solicitor is something that cannot be done with just anyone. Like any other service provider, solicitors have to be paid for their services. The practitioner can either charge you a flat fee or a percentage of the total value of the property. The average cost of hiring a real estate solicitor ranges between 500 and 1800 pounds. However, the price is influenced by many factors.

Factors Influencing the Cost of Hiring a Solicitor

Below are some of the main factors that affect the price tag for hiring a real estate solicitor;

  1. The Size of Your Property

This is one of the main factors that influence the cost of hiring the professional. Selling a bigger house would mean that you have to pay more money to the solicitor. The reason why this is the case is that there are more risks involved because more money is involved. This factor mostly comes into play if the solicitor decides to charge you a percentage of the total value of the house. If you own a large property, the value is more than a smaller one; hence the cost of hiring the solicitor is higher.

  1. The nature of the transaction

Another critical determinant of the amount of solicitor’s fees is the nature of transactions. This means that the more complicated the sale of the house is, the more money the solicitor will require. Properties that have an easy ownership structure tend to cost less in solicitor fees. On the other hand, those with complicated legal entanglements require a more careful legal planning procedure and more attention to essential details.

  1. Whether the property is a leasehold or not

If you are selling a leasehold house, you will also have to pay more money to the solicitor. The reason is that there is more legal work involved in such a sale. For instance, the solicitor will have to review the lease documents of the property. On average, you will end up paying at about 300 pounds extra in such a situation.

  1. The solicitor’s know-how and experience

Different conveyancing agents charge varying amounts. If you search the market for the various options, you will find that there is a difference between the costs, some are incredible, and some are minor. If you find a solicitor that is charging a meagre amount, you may want to consider the work history of the practitioner. Most of the time, a solicitor that charges quite low fees take more time to complete the selling process. Such practitioners work alone hence require more time to get the work done correctly.

On the other hand, those that charge a considerable amount usually work with interns and partners who help them cover all the essential details adequately and in time. Experienced solicitors with a lot of clients charge the average amount. Expensive solicitors provide luxuries like round the clock communication, which is not the case with the cheaper ones. When choosing between the different solicitors and the amount that they charge, consider your budget and the kind of service you require.

  1. Are you hiring a private solicitor or a firm

Hiring a firm in some cases is more cost-efficient than hiring a private solicitor. The reason is that firms tend to have more clients, hence pricing inadequate capital, thus eliminating the need to charge clients a lot of money. Firms also hire a lot of employees who can complete the soliciting processes fast enough so that they can take on more cases and earn more money. On the other hand, hiring a private solicitor would mean paying more money.

  1. The state of the real estate market

The costs of hiring an agent and a solicitor, among other buying and selling costs, are significantly affected by the state of the market. For instance, if the market is at a peak, the costs will be higher because the houses will sell at a higher price. Whether or not the home is likely to sell fast or slow also determines the cost of hiring a solicitor. For instance, at the moment, because of the Covid-19 pandemic, less people are buying houses. Therefore, solicitors are not charging as much.

In addition to the factors mentioned above, other services will increase the amount you pay for solicitors’ services. For instance, you may have to pay an extra 12 pounds for a copy of the title deed. This document will help you prove that you own the property. It may also cost you an additional 10 pounds to conduct money laundering checks. This check is done to make sure that the potential buyer is not claiming to be someone that he is not.

Choosing between a fixed rate and a percentage-based solicitor

As mentioned earlier, the cost of hiring a solicitor depends on whether or not the solicitor is a fixed rate or a percentage based one. A percentage-based solicitor will charge you a specific percentage of the amount that you will make selling the house. Before you decide on which one of the two is the best option, you must first determine the cost of your property. Also, consider the legal affairs involved, like whether you have some legal complications that may need to be taken care of. Once you have determined the above elements, consider the cost of hiring a fixed rate solicitor and how much money a percentage-based solicitor would take home.

If you are selling a small house with a less complicated legal history, hiring a percentage based solicitor could be the wiser decision. However, if you are selling a large home with an incredible value, it would be wiser to hire a fixed rate solicitor as it will help you save some money. Also, with a fixed rate solicitor, you have the opportunity to negotiate for a fair price. However, no one of the two is entirely better than the other. The trick is to analyze your situation before choosing between the two.

Importance of hiring a solicitor

  • A solicitor will help you avoid some unclear problems that are associated with the sale of a house. For instance, if you find yourself signing a brokerage deal that does not take care of some significant legal issues. Some brokers will issue documents that shield them from some responsibilities that they should be taking care of. A solicitor will help you navigate the issue.
  • A solicitor may also come in handy when it comes to making the purchase agreement. The purchase agreement is the most important document when selling a property. The solicitor will handle issues related to the purchase agreement. Such issues include whether or not the property has changed or if there is an addition to the property. Whether the changes are legal or not is also a matter to handle. Another issue is the legal outcomes of closing and how the payments will be made, to name a few.
  • A solicitor will also help you handle the tax-transfer and the title deed transfer affairs.
  • The solicitor also takes care of the closing process. The closing is the most significant event of selling or buying a house. The solicitor’s work is to prepare the closing documents like the title deed, among others. The solicitor will handle the process of transferring the deed from the seller to the buyers. If there are issues like mortgage balances to be paid, the legal practitioner will help the two parties determine who clears the balance and how it will be done. A solicitor will also oversee the signing of the closing papers. Finally, the solicitor will make sure the closing documents are properly executed, and the two parties understand the process.
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Other Costs Involved in Selling a House

 Hiring an Estate agent

According to most sellers, the most significant fee when selling a house is the real estate commission. Most realtors or estate agents ask for a commission of between 1 and 5 per cent. By commission, it means that you have to pay a percentage of the total amount for which you sell the house. For instance, if you sell the home for 250000 pounds, you may end up paying your estate agent up to 15000 pounds.

Estate agent fees should now be quoted to include VAT (20%). These rules came into effect from The Property Ombudsman in October 2016, however it always pays to check quotes are inclusive of VAT.

Sometimes, you may be able to talk your way to a lower commission. However, most real estate agents will only accept a lower rate if the house has the potential to sell quickly. Also, if the market is experiencing a high and the prices are relatively at a peak, it may be easier to get a lower commission.

Other than negotiating for a better commission, sellers can also save some money by listing houses as for-sale-by-owner. However, doing so means that you would have to take on all the responsibilities of the real estate agent, including showing and advertising the house. Some online listing platforms also do not allow listings from owners without an agent. This makes it difficult to sell and market the home.

The Cost of Repairs

It is easier to sell a house that is visually and also functionally appealing. Therefore, if your home suffers some damages, you may want to embark on some repairs. For instance, you can invest in some exterior and interior works. Doing so will help your house sell faster and also get you a better price.

It is wiser to conduct repairs while preparing for a sale rather than during the time when you have already put your house on sale. Failure to perform repair projects before selling will help you avoid meeting your buyer’s demands for repairs before completing a transaction.

The Cost of Staging

Staging originates in the US, who have been staging properties for many years to get their homes sold, and for the right price, and it is now catching on in the UK.

When selling a house, you must stage the home for viewings. Staging helps the house to market faster. During the process of staging, you may have to hire a professional company to put items like furniture inside the property. By doing so, you can show the potential buyers how much the house can accommodate, the beauty of different features and appeal to them on a personal level. Staging also helps to minimise the less attractive features of the property while highlighting the best ones.

You may need to hire an interior designer to make sure that you succeed in your purpose to attract buyers. You have to stage your property when taking photos to post on listings and when hosting walk-ins. For walk-ins, you may have to hire furniture and other home decorations and elements like curtains. Hiring such items is also an additional cost. On average, the cost of staging a house ranges between 25 and 75 pounds per hour for the consultation. The price, however, depends on the amount of space in the home and amount of furniture you wish to hire and the length of time it is required.

Mortgage costs

You cannot sell a house for which you haven’t completed mortgage payments. The amount you will spend paying off your mortgage depends on the amount you owe. Most of the time, the amount is a fraction of the amount that the house will bring in after selling. However, you can also use the proceeds you make from selling the home to clear the mortgage, if you cannot afford to clear the debt beforehand.

The Closing Costs

Most of the time, the closing costs are the responsibility of the buyer. However, on some rare occasions, the seller may have to foot the bill, especially if you are selling the property in a buyer’s market.

In Summary

Normally the largest fees you can expect to pay will be if you use an estate agent on a commission fee structure, which can vary from 1 to 5% normally.

Solicitors / Conveyancers will normally charge between £500 to £1800 depending on the price of the property and complexity of sale. Before you decide on any estate agent, it always pays to get several quotes to see your options.

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When to Instruct a Solicitor when Buying a House

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.

Conveyancing solicitor

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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