Conveyancing FAQ

FAQ Pic

Please note that conveyancing services are only available if you are buying or selling property in England or Wales.

Check the answers below to some of our most frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Online Conveyancing Conveyancing Deposits Surveys and Searches Exchange of Contracts Completion Stamp Duty Buying Property in Joint Names Money Laundering

Online Conveyancing

Who provides the service?

Easylawyers have entered into an arrangement with leading solicitors firm Dickinson Dees regarding the provision of conveyancing services for our customers. Dickinson Dees are one of the largest firms of solicitors in the country, and have a large department of conveyancing specialists.

Easylawyers and Dickinson Dees are both regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and are fully insured. Therefore, you shall be dealing with highly trained professional lawyers throughout the conveyancing process.

Why should I use easylawyers for my conveyancing?

Easylawyers have an arrangement with Dickinson Dees which gives you access to some of the most experience and qualified conveyancing lawyers in the United Kingdom:

A dedicated legal case manager. Track the progress of your case online and avoid time-consuming meetings or calls Fixed price guarantee: your quote is guaranteed so long as you instruct Dickinson Dees within 30 days of receiving it. Guaranteed service standards.

How long will it take?

This is affected by a large number of factors including the type of purchase or sale, the length of the chain, and whether a property is leasehold. An average time from the acceptance of offer to completion is 10 weeks.

How do I get a quotation?

Click on the quotation link, then just enter the sale or purchase price in the box. (If you’re both buying and selling, enter the relevant prices in each box.) Click here to get a quotation now.

How long is it valid for?

Quotes are valid for 30 days. You can get a new quote at any time.

What is the quote for?

Your free quotation will detail, in full, the services you’ll be charged for. These shall include costs to external bodies - such as Land Registry fees and Stamp Duty charges.

Are there any other costs?

If you ask for any services in addition to the standard conveyancing service, the company reserves the right to make a charge for these additional services. Any additional charges will, of course, be agreed before the additional services are undertaken.

What is the instruction process?

Once you are happy with your free quotation, just click on the ‘Instruct Us’ button and complete the simple online form. You will then be sent a client care letter explaining the next steps, requesting further details and proof of identity. The estimate set out in the care letter is highly reliable.

Do I need to pay any money up front?

The only fee you shall be asked for at the outset when buying a property is the cost of covering search fees: a local search, environmental search and a drainage and water search are carried out for every purchase. Depending on the location of the property, other searches such as a mining search may also be necessary.

What is case tracking?

This allows you to check the progress of your case online, 24 hours a day. You’ll be able to see where your case is in the conveyancing process, an estimated target completion date and details of any problems that may have arisen.

How do I use case tracking?

Once you have instructed Dickinson Dees, you’ll be sent a reference number and password in the post. Just enter your number and password into the case tracking log in page.

I have a question. Who do I contact?

If you’re an existing customer, always use your dedicated legal case manager. Their details can be found in your case tracking report.

For general enquiries, email us at info@easylawyers.co.uk

If you have not found the information you’re looking for here, please contact us with your query.

Conveyancing

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership. Find out more about what’s involved when buying or selling a property:

Buying
  • Your instructions are taken and request documents from the seller’s solicitor.

  • Searches, title investigation and additional enquiries carried out.

  • Dickinson Dees receive your mortgage offer from your lender.

  • Dickinson Dees report to you and arrange for you to sign the contract, transfer and mortgage deed and request any shortfall needed to complete the purchase.

  • Contracts are exchanged, date of moving is fixed.

  • Final documentation is prepared and signed.

  • Final searches are carried out and the mortgage loan is obtained from your lender

  • Completion takes place and everybody moves.

  • The transfer is stamped, the title registered with the Land Registry and the deeds are sent to your lender.

Selling
  • Your instructions are taken and request your title deeds from your current lender. Copies of your title are also obtained from the Land Registry.

  • Sales instructions received from your estate agent.

  • Contracts and evidence of your title are sent to the buyer’s solicitor.

  • Any of the buyer’s enquiries are answered.

  • Exchange of contracts; date for moving is fixed.

  • Final documentation is prepared and signed.

  • A figure is obtained from your lender to pay off your current mortgage.

  • Completion takes place and everybody moves.

  • The title deeds are sent to your buyer’s solicitor.

How long does it take to buy a house?

The average conveyance takes between 6 to 8 weeks to complete from giving instructions to moving in. Being in a chain can slow things down as the whole chain can only move as fast as the slowest link.

How can I help speed up the whole process?

Complete and submit your mortgage application as quickly as possible to your lender/mortgage broker. In addition, please respond as soon as possible to any letters or forms that we send you. We would of course ask for your assistance in cases where you would be better placed to obtain information on our behalf.

Can I pull out of my Sale/Purchase?

You can withdraw from the transaction at any time before exchange of contracts. This means that as a purchaser you could lose money spent on a survey and searches even though it may not be your fault that the transaction has fallen through. After exchange of contracts both parties are legally committed to complete the transaction.

When do I pay the Legal Fees?

You will need to pay some money up front typically £300 to cover the cost of searches. The rest of the money will be requested from you after exchange and before completion.

Deposit

Do we have to pay a deposit?

You will have to pay a deposit if you are a First Time Buyer. Normally this is 10% of the purchase price. You can agree with the Seller's solicitor to pay less (they will usually agree to this if you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price). Normally you do not have to provide a deposit if you have a sale and a purchase. This is because you can use the deposit from your sale towards your purchase. If this deposit is a lot less than the 10% deposit required on your purchase then you may be asked to make up the difference. There are no fixed guidelines on this and it will be down to the seller and purchaser and their solicitors.

Do we pay a deposit on the Sale?

No. A deposit is paid by the Buyer's solicitors to the Seller's solicitors when contracts are exchanged.

If we do have to pay a deposit, when is it payable?

The deposit is handed over when we exchange contracts, so your solicitor will need to have cleared funds by then - i.e. any cheques will need to have cleared before the deposit can be used.

Surveys and Searches

What are the different types of valuation/surveys?

There are three types of valuation/survey:

Basic Valuation. This type is not a survey and is intended as a valuation only and for the sole benefit of the lender. It is questionable as to whether or not you would have any comeback against the Lender's Valuer if he had overlooked something. You should therefore have a more thorough inspection carried out by a surveyor.

Homebuyers' Report. This is more detailed report on the state and condition of the property and there may be a comeback on the surveyor if something be overlooked. These surveys are subject to a number of get outs.

Full Structural Survey. This is the most detailed report. The surveyor (as before) would be liable for any errors in his report. We are not surveyors and we therefore advise that at the very least you consider a Homebuyers' Report. However, if you are in doubt, you should take advice from a local independent surveyor.

Why do you need to carry out Searches?

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:-

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.
Local Authority Search
To find out if the Local Authority have anything recorded against the property that would affect your decision to buy, for example, a new road within 200 meters. 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. It will not reveal if owners of adjoining/neighbouring properties are planning any private developments.
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.
Drainage Search
This will show whether or not the surface and/or foul water drains run into a public or private sewer.

What is a Bankruptcy Search?

If the transaction is to be funded or partly funded through a mortgage then it is usual for us to receive instructions from the mortgage lender to act on their behalf also. There are therefore additional obligations upon us, one of which is to undertake a bankruptcy search against the prospective purchaser or purchasers.

You have my search money but haven't sent off the searches, Why not?

Some local authorities are not able to carry out a search against the property until they have a plan of the property. We obtain a plan from the Seller's solicitors. There is a potential delay here as the seller's solicitors will be waiting for the title deeds and can only send us a plan once they have the deeds. Some local authorities will do a search without a plan but this is down to each local authority.

Exchange of Contracts

Can I exchange contracts before I receive my mortgage offer?

We would strongly advise you not to exchange Contracts before your mortgage offer. If for any reason the mortgage offer is declined or delayed or it contains any conditions that you cannot comply with the money may not be available when required so it would be very risky to exchange contracts without it.

We have not exchanged Contracts - what happens if I back out?

Until you exchange contracts, you each are free to back out without any penalty due to the other. The purchaser will have to write off any conveyancing legal costs and the costs of any survey and so on. The seller will also have legal costs, and may have others as well, including the costs of delay.

Why should this be allowed? Put simply the system was designed so that expense should be kept to a minimum until exchange of contracts. The purchaser, in particular, needs the information before committing to the decision to purchase. Both parties need to remember this. It is quite true that when one party backs out, this causes considerable expense and frustration to the other, but, as a conveyancer, I can only say that this affects both sellers and buyers alike.

Can I exchange contracts and complete on the same day ?

We do not recommend this and it seldom brings the completion date forward. We have an obligation to act for you fearlessly and protect your interest and this becomes more difficult when we are asked to complete in this way. You should also consider the implications if completion does not take place. As there is no contract and therefore no legal comeback if completion is delayed. Each party would then be liable for their own costs i.e. removal costs, additional solicitors fees etc. This method of completion is most likely to be declined in cases where there is chain of properties involved.

What does ‘subject to contract’ mean?

All correspondence and negotiations between a seller and buyer and their respective solicitors are said to be “subject to contract” right up until contracts are eventually exchanged. Often you will see in estate agents’ windows particular properties where offers have been made “subject to contract”.

In a nutshell, this means that either seller or buyer who are negotiating the sale or purchase of a property can withdraw from the transaction without incurring any penalty right up until contracts are exchanged.

What are the ‘Standard Conditions of Sale ’?

The ‘Standard Conditions of Sale’ are incorporated into most contracts in England and Wales for the sale and purchase of residential property. They set out the general procedure and rules governing the transfer of property and the obligations on either party in the transaction. If you would like to see a copy of the Standard Conditions of Sale, please let us know and we will forward a copy to you. The idea of using standard terms is to keep the time in preparing and negotiating a contract (and therefore also the cost) to a minimum.

Completion

What does completion mean?

In conveyancing, completion refers to the time when all terms of the contract exchanged between the buyer and Seller are fulfilled. In a nutshell, this involves the balance of purchase monies (i.e. purchase price less deposit paid on exchange of contracts plus any apportionments of ground rent/service charges if leasehold property) being sent by telegraphic transfer to the Seller’s solicitors. The Seller’s solicitors acknowledge safe receipt of the payment, date the Transfer deed and send this together with the deeds (proof of ownership documents) through to the buyer’s solicitors. When money has changed hands, and on the assumption the seller has moved out, the buyer will then be able to pick up the keys and move into the property.

What is the Bank Transfer fee?

When it is time to complete the transaction, it is often necessary to arrange for funds to be telegraphically transferred from the mortgage lender to our account. The mortgage lender may charge for this. The charge will usually be deducted from the amount of the loan. We would then need to telegraphically transfer the completion monies to the seller's solicitors and our bank will charge a fee for effecting this transfer.

Where do I collect the keys from?

Generally the estate agents where you saw the property will be holding the keys. If there is no estate agent involved it would be best to contact the seller directly and make plans to collect the keys on the day of completion.

On my Sale, when will I receive the sale money?

This will be sent to you on the day of completion. If you are purchasing as well then the sale proceeds are used towards the purchase price of your new property and any residue will be sent on the day of completion or, at the very latest on the next working day.

Payment is usually made by cheque but for larger amounts your solicitor can transfer the money direct to your bank if you request this in advance and provide them with your account details. There may be an additional bank transfer fee for this.

How early on completion day can I get the keys?

On completion day the purchase monies are sent (from the buyers solicitors to the sellers solicitors) through the Bank's telegraphic system. This is network of computers dealing with thousands of transactions every day. On some days the money can take as little as half an hour to come through, on other days it can take between 4 to 6 hours. The Sellers Solicitors cannot release the keys until they have received the money. This is the reason that some people complete mid-morning and others by mid-afternoon.

What time will I get the keys on the day of completion?

The contract normally specifies that completion shall take place by say 1.00 or 2.00p.m. Do I have to notify the Gas and Electricity Authorities of the date that I am moving?
Yes. You should notify those authorities and the local council for Council Tax purposes yourself.

When should I arrange Building Insurance?

Unless the building insurance is being arranged by your lender or it is a leasehold property and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder you must arrange buildings insurance from exchange of contracts as the property will be at your risk from that time.

The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building the property if it burns to the ground which is not necessarily the same as the current market value. If you had a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage your surveyor or the lenders valuer will usually have suggested a minimum amount of cover in their report.

Stamp Duty

What is Stamp Duty Land Tax?

Stamp Duty Land Tax replaced the ‘old’ stamp duty on purchases of houses, flats and other UK land and buildings and certain leases as from 1 December 2003. In many ways, it is similar to stamp duty but there are some differences.

Under Stamp Duty Land Tax, it is no longer necessary to send documents in for stamping - instead, your solicitor or licensed conveyancer will ask you to sign a new return. This new return is called "the land transaction return" - SDLT1.

The completed return will contain all the information required by HM Revenue & Customs regarding the purchase.

As the buyer or tenant you are responsible for the return and payment of the Stamp Duty Land Tax. Normally the completion of the form and its submission will be handled by the solicitor or licensed conveyancer acting for you in the purchase. Upon receipt of a completed return and payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax, HM Revenue & Customs will issue a certificate. This certificate must be sent to the appropriate land registry - previously the "stamped" documents had to be submitted.

Stamp Duty Land Tax transactions fall broadly into two categories - buying land or premises and lease of land or premises.

How can I save paying stamp duty?

If the purchase price is just above the stamp duty limits (£125,000, £200,000.00, £500,000 and £1,000,000) and the sale includes some fixtures and fittings eg. carpets, curtains, cooker, fridge, freezer you may be able to legitimately apportion part of the price towards the fixtures and the duty will then be payable on the amount of the price agreed for the property only.

For example - If the agreed sale price is £252,000.00 and there are no fixtures the stamp duty payable will be £7560 but if there are fixtures worth £3,000.00 the duty is only £2490 because up to £200,000.00 the level of stamp duty is only 1% but above £200,000.00 it is 3%. That is a saving of £5070.

If you want to "split" the price in this way you must remember to tell your solicitor before exchange of contracts.

What is Disadvantaged Areas Relief?

Disadvantaged Areas Relief was introduced on 30 November 2001. It is a relief from Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) provided on some residential, and all commercial, property and land transactions situated in Enterprise Areas within the UK.

Anyone buying a freehold residential property, costing £150,000 or less, in a qualifying area, can claim Disadvantaged Areas Relief, resulting in a saving of up to £1500.

How do I claim Disadvantaged Areas Relief?

It is easy to claim the relief and, in most cases, your solicitor or conveyancer will handle this for you. There is no need to pay SDLT and claim it back – if the property you are buying qualifies for relief, your solicitor or conveyancer will simply need to complete the relevant section of the Land Transaction Return (SDLT1).

An SDLT1 needs to be completed for any transfer of a freehold or assignment of a lease whether or not SDLT is payable. The only exceptions are the exempt transactions listed on the SDLT 60 (Self-Certificate). Please note that there are some new exemptions to be added to the SDLT 60.

Buying Property in Joint Names

What do we need to know if we are buying in joint names?

When any property is owned by more than one person, they can own it either as “joint tenants” or as “tenants in common”.

Joint Tenants

This is the method of ownership commonly used by married couples who do not wish to distinguish what each of them owns or to demarcate their shares in the property. When one of two joint owners dies, the whole property automatically passes to the surviving joint owner by operation of property law. Neither of the two joint owners has an interest in the property that is capable of passing under their Will. In the case of a married couple who want everything to go to the survivor on the first death, this is perfectly in order. However, if they want to provide for any other arrangement in their Wills, a joint tenancy may be inappropriate.

Tenants in Common

Where co-owners hold property as tenants in common they own the property in specified shares so this method of ownership is appropriate where the co-owners wish to define their shares whether those shares are equal or unequal. Owning in specified shares is also important if the owners do not wish to leave their respective shares in the property to the other absolutely. For example, they may want to leave their share on trust for the other or they may want to leave it to somebody completely different. If you wish to own a property as tenants in common, we can prepare a separate Deed setting out those shares. If you wish, the Deed can also set out obligations to contribute towards outgoings and what is to happen if one of you wishes to leave the property. This type of Deed is called a Declaration of Trust and the charge will be £99.00 if it is done at the time of buying. You should bear in mind that although a Declaration of Trust is normally binding on the parties entering into it, there are occasions when the courts have power to disregard such documents and to order that property should be divided in a different way. In particular, in making financial orders upon break down of marriage the courts have a wide discretion to re-distribute assets between two spouses.

Money Laundering

Why do you carry out Identification Checks?

To satisfy the Money Laundering Regulations we will require evidence of your identity in all cases. This is normally satisfied by provision of a passport and an original bank statement or utility account showing your correct address.

Under recent Money Laundering Regulations, we are required by law to ascertain not only the identity of our clients but also the source of the money that we receive in respect of any matter. We reserve the right to request the source of any sum greater than £500. Refusal to disclose this may lead to us cancelling our retainer with the client, as clearly this will cause a conflict between the set Regulations and a refusal to disclose.

We have an obligation to notify the appropriate authorities should we believe that any monies received by us may contravene the Money Laundering Regulations.