Conveyancing Solicitors Plymouth ~ Frequently Asked Questions ( FAQ )
How long will it take?
If the property is empty and the buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can all be completed in a few weeks but this is very unusual.
How soon do I need to pay any money?
Usually if you are purchasing a property your solicitor will ask you for approximately £250.00 at the beginning to cover the search fees that will be paid out on your behalf.
The balance of the price and the solicitors costs etc will be payable shortly before completion. If you are selling you will not need to pay any money in advance. The costs and agents fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you.
What searches are carried out and why?
There are five main types of search that can be carried out and the buyers solicitor will decide which of these are necessary in any particular case.
Local Authority Search This reveals details of the planning history for the property and whether the Council are aware of any breaches of planning, also any proposals for new roads or traffic schemes, tree preservation orders, conservation areas and any other matters within the Council's control that may affect the property.
Drainage Search This will show whether or not the surface and/or foul water drains run into a public or private sewer.
Land Registry Search This is carried out just before completion in order to find out if there are new mortgages registered against the property that have not previously been disclosed. If there are then the buyers solicitor will obviously require confirmation that these will be repaid.
Land Charges Search If you are obtaining a mortgage the lender will ask your solicitor to carry out a search to make sure that are you are not bankrupt ! Quite often this search will show an entry against someone else with a similar name. If so you will be asked to sign a copy of the result to confirm that it does not relate to you.
Environmental Search It has more recently been recommended that the buyers solicitor should also carry out an environmental search to see if 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.
What do we need to know if we are buying in joint names?
Most couples who are married or in a stable relationship purchase as "joint tenants" which means that upon the death of one or other of them that persons half share will automatically pass to the other.
The alternative is to hold the property as "tenants in common" which means that each persons half share is treated as being separate so that upon the death of one or other of them his or her share will not automatically go to the other but to whoever it has been left to in the deceased person's will or, if there is no will, to his or her next of kin.
If you are putting unequal amounts into the property the person who is paying the larger amount can and often should be protected by a "trust deed" which sets out your respective shares so that in the event of any dispute or upon the death of one or other of you in the future your original intentions will be clearly recorded. Once you have considered the above options and/or if you require further advice you should tell your solicitor so that he or she can make sure that your wishes are carried out.
Why do I need an EPC?
An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required by law when a property is marketed for sale. The EPC will give information as to the efficiency of a property and recommendations as to how to make a property more efficient. As the EPC is needed when a property is marketed it is normally arranged by your estate agent. Make sure you keep the EPC when you move, because you may be able to use it again if your move is short-term.
What is the difference between exchange and completion?
Exchange of contracts takes place once all parties in the chain are ready to exchange and the completion date has been agreed by all parties. When contracts are exchanged there is then a binding agreement for you to buy/sell the property and the completion date is fixed. Following exchange of contracts no-one can pull out of the transaction and the completion date is fixed. Completion is when the money is paid for the property and the ownership of the property changes. On the day of completion the buyer will get the keys to the property and be able to move in..
Should I have a survey?
We would recommend that you have a survey (as well as the obligatory mortgage valuation). The mortgage valuation will be done on behalf of your mortgage lender to confirm for them that the property is worth what you are paying for it, but will not necessarily find any defects or problems with the property. A Homebuyers' Report or Structural Survey will go into greater detail. You should instruct a surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Ask us if you need more information.
Who is responsible for insuring the property?
Under the terms of the sale contract the buyer is responsible for insuring the property from exchange of contracts, and if you are having a mortgage your mortgage lender will make it a condition of your mortgage offer to have insurance from exchange of contracts. You need to have this in place before exchange.
I am buying a leasehold property – what does this mean?
A leasehold property is a property which is subject to a lease. A lease is an agreement to use a property for a period of time without owning it, for example for 99 years. Flats are usually leasehold and shared ownership properties will also be leasehold. The lease will contain various agreements between you as the lessee and the landlord as the lessor. We will explain to you what these are. Under a lease, ground rent is paid (often a nominal amount) and a service charge will be paid to cover the cost the lessor is put to in complying with their requirements under the lease such as insuring the property and maintaining any shared areas.