How long will it take?

This is always the burning question. If a property is empty and a Buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can be completed in a few days, but this is not very common. It will be more likely that a mortgage will be required and a chain of properties will be involved. In this case it will usually take between 4-8 weeks to exchange contracts and then 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion, making a total of 6-12 weeks from start to finish, as an average.

We do our best to progress your transaction as quickly as possible, but time scales cannot be guaranteed by anyone!

When will I need to pay any money?

We will ask you for some funds on account at the start of the matter to cover the cost of Land Registry documents (on a sale) and searches (on a purchase). The balance of the purchase price including your legal fees etc. will be payable shortly before completion. Sometimes this will need to be paid before exchange of contracts where you are borrowing over 90% of the price by way of mortgage (see also 'How much deposit will I have to pay?')

How much deposit will I have to pay?

It is normal for a deposit to be paid to the Seller’s conveyancers on exchange of contracts. Many people think that 10% is required but this is not always the case. If you are both selling and buying we can usually use your Buyer’s deposit in connection with your own purchase so you will not have to find anything at all at the point of exchanging contracts.

If you are buying only, the amount of the deposit will usually depend on how much you are borrowing from your lender (if any). If you are borrowing less than 90% of the purchase price, then the maximum amount you will need to pay on exchange of contracts will be 10% of the purchase price. If you are borrowing more than this we can often negotiate with the Seller to accept a reduced amount.

Will I need a Survey?

If you are obtaining a mortgage, the lender will require a valuation for its own purposes. Although this may give you an indication of whether they think the property is worth the amount you have asked to borrow, you cannot rely on it if things go wrong and it is not designed to point out defects.

For an extra fee, you can usually ask your Lender for  a HomeBuyers Report and this will give you additional information about the property that you will be entitled to rely on.

If the property is quite old and you have a particular concern about its condition, you can obtain a full structural report which is much more detailed. Most surveyors will be prepared to quote you for this type of survey.

It is important to remember the old saying "BUYER BEWARE", because after you have exchanged contracts you will be liable for any problems discovered with the property, unless you have been misled.

If you are not having a mortgage we would advise you to make your own arrangements to have a survey carried out.

What Searches do you carry out and why?

Local authority search - This search reveals details of matters such as the planning history, proposals for new road schemes, planning breaches, tree preservation orders, conservation areas and other matters over which the local authority has control and which may affect the value of the property or your enjoyment of it. Your mortgage lender (if any) will require you to have one of these.

Drainage search - This search will show for example whether or not the property is connected to mains for water supply and drainage arrangements, whether the supply is metered, whether water quality tests have been passed and other valuable information about your potential liability for drains and water pipes.

Environmental search - It is recommended that Buyers also carry out an environmental search. This will check for example whether there are any landfill or waste disposal sites in the area, if the property has been built on an old industrial site and whether there are any risks from contaminated land, toxic emissions, flooding, subsidence etc.

Chancel Repair Liability Search - This search is designed to check those records that are reasonably accessible, to see whether the property is likely to be at risk of liability for contributions towards the repair costs of the church chancel. This is an ancient liability that can affect land in almost any geographical situation in England and Wales, often without the owners knowing about it.

Why do I have to supply personal identification documents and undergo “Anti-Money Laundering" checks?

As lawyers we have a statutory duty to ensure that we have checked your identity and are satisfied that we will not be handling money that represents the proceeds of crime or that furthers the aims of crime or terrorism. We are required by law to carry out certain checks and to report any suspicions to the Serious Organised Crime Agency. We hope that you will understand the reason why you are asked for identification documents, bank statements and other aids to establishing your “bona fides”. We are prohibited by law from proceeding with any transaction where this information is not forthcoming from anyone for whom we are acting.

When do I need to arrange Buildings Insurance?

Unless your mortgage lender (if any) is arranging the building insurance, or the property is leasehold and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder, you must arrange buildings insurance from the day you exchange contracts.

The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building the property if it is destroyed, which is not always the same as the current market value. If you had a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage, your surveyor or lender’s valuer will usually have suggested a minimum recommended amount of cover in his report.

What happens with the keys?

These are usually left with the estate agents, and the Buyer collects them once the estate agents have been advised by the Seller’s conveyancer that the money has been paid over on completion day. If there is no agent, then the Seller will hand them direct to the Buyer on the advice of his conveyancer.

Either way, it is important to make the arrangements in advance to prevent the Buyer turning up and waiting outside with his removal van.

Although we always try to ensure that everything is finalised as early as possible on the day of completion and usually it is dealt with by around mid-day, there can sometimes be a delay - if for example your conveyancer is still waiting for mortgage monies to arrive or there is a long chain. If this happens please don't panic or get upset, because your conveyancer will almost always resolve the problem by early afternoon if not sooner.

When will I get my money?

If you are just selling, or there is a surplus due back to you after completion of your sale and purchase, we will send this on to you the next working day.

Payment is usually made by cheque, but for larger sums we can arrange to transfer the money direct to your bank if you request this in advance and provide us with your account details. There will be a bank transfer fee for this service.

What should I do about Life cover?

We recommend that you arrange sufficient life cover for your mortgage liability and this must be arranged before exchange of contracts. You should consult your financial adviser or lender.

Why does completion have to take place on a working day?

When the purchase monies are paid over for the property to the Seller’s Conveyancer, the Buyer and his Lender expect to get “vacant possession” of the property in return, on the same day. The banks only transfer money electronically on a working day, and therefore completion cannot take place at a weekend. Please note, however, completion does not always have to take place on a Friday - it can take place any working day.

Can a person be added to the Deeds and the mortgage at a later stage?

Yes, but you will have to receive confirmation from your Lender that they are happy for that person to be placed on the mortgage and then a transfer of the legal title will need to take place. This is a legal document transferring the property from the sole name into joint names subject to the mortgage.

At what point is the sale or purchase of a house legally binding, i.e. when will I be safe from 'gazumpers'?

A sale or purchase is only binding once written contracts have been exchanged between Seller and Buyer. In most cases, a deposit of up to 10% of the purchase price will be paid by the Buyer to the Seller at that time.


call 0845 644 3620

Priestgate House
3-7 Priestgate
Telephone: 0845 644 3620
Fax: 01733 427277
Practice licence number: 11309

Registered in England & Wales No. 5357454
Regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers



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