Capper & Jones Solicitors

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Tel: 01352 752020

Fax: 01352 756967


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SRA Number: 00047132    

VAT No: 161 2915 79

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Old Bank Chambers

1 King Street




Conveyancing FAQs & Mythbusters

“I do not need to instruct a solicitor until I have found a buyer for my property”

When selling a property, most people often only decide to instruct a solicitor once they have found a buyer and agreed a price. However, instructing a solicitor from the very beginning before a price is agreed means that the solicitor is able to obtain full instructions on the proposed transaction. This will ensure that all the contract papers are ready to be forwarded to the buyer’s solicitors as soon as a buyer is found. This will help to avoid any delays.

Taking time to choose the right solicitor

A sensible way of choosing a solicitor is by personal recommendation. For example a friend, family member or work colleague may be able to recommend a particular firm they have recently used. Alternatively, we would recommend appointing a local solicitor. Whilst it is possible to appoint a solicitor in any part of the country, the local solicitor will have valuable local knowledge and will be readily accessible for face to face meetings.

Check the chain of transactions at the outset

It is important that you check that the chain of transactions is complete below and above you and that everyone is in a position to proceed. Normally your Estate Agent should verify these details for you.

The difference between “Exchange” and “Completion”

Exchange and completion are the key dates in any transaction. Exchange is the date when contracts for either the sale or purchase are exchanged between the respective parties. At this point a binding contract comes into existence meaning neither party may withdraw without incurring liability for the breach. On exchange both parties will agree a completion date which is normally 2 weeks after exchange. This is the date when you will move house.

“I’ll have to pay the other side’s legal costs if I withdraw from a transaction”

Always remember that you can withdraw from a transaction at any time before contracts are exchanged and that there is normally NO obligation to pay any fees of the other side whatsoever.

Check the likely timescale of the transaction at the outset

It is important that you check with your solicitor the likely timescale of the transaction. On average it can take a minimum of 6 weeks from instructing a solicitor to moving in. This period can be reduced or lengthened depending on the chain and problems encountered with the legal process. It is important that you keep in contact with your solicitor to obtain updates. Furthermore, you should not organise a removal van until you have been advised of a definite date for completion by your solicitor.

“I do not have to tell them that”

If you are asked any questions by the buyer (or their solicitor) about your property, then you must answer these honestly. Failure to answer these enquiries may jeopardise the sale later on and equally you could be liable to the buyer for withholding or providing false information.

“I do not want to move out until after completion”

The contract states that you must vacate your property on the day of completion. This means that you must have moved out, normally by 2.00 pm on the day of completion. However, it is not uncommon to agree an earlier time such as 12 noon. As well as physically vacating the property you need to remove all furniture etc and the property should be left clean and tidy.

“I do not need a survey”

The purchase of a property is probably the largest financial transaction of your life and it is important that proper professional advice is obtained from a surveyor regarding the condition of the property. A lot of people make two common mistakes regarding surveys. Firstly, if they do not need a mortgage they assume that a survey is not needed either. Secondly, if a mortgage is needed they opt for the cheapest option, which is the basic valuation survey. The basic valuation survey is purely for the lender’s needs and does not normally contain any details whatsoever about the condition of the property. Therefore, it is important that you at least have the Homebuyers Report. This is a survey commissioned directly by you with the surveyor which means there is a contractual relationship and the surveyor is under an obligation to provide advice regarding the condition of the property. The advice given is backed by professional indemnity insurance which means that you are covered in case any problems are overlooked.

“I can reduce the Stamp Duty by splitting the purchase price between the house itself and fixtures and fittings”

It is normal when you make an offer for a property that the purchase price reflects the price of the house together with any fixtures and fittings which are deemed to be part of the bricks and mortar. You can agree a reasonable additional figure for fittings such as carpets and curtains which is not chargeable to Stamp Duty Land Tax. However, such a figure must reflect a reasonable valuation of these items otherwise the Inland Revenue will challenge the transaction.

“I can move into my new house when contracts have been exchanged”

Normally you can only have access to the property on the completion date.

Tell your solicitor if you plan to extend the property

It is often assumed that only planning permission and building regulations approval is required for any proposed extensions. However, if any building work is within a certain distance of the boundary to your property then you will need to comply with the Party Walls Act and serve the appropriate notices on your neighbour. Furthermore you should check if there is a restrictive covenant against your property which may prevent such work being undertaken or may require you to obtain the consent of a former landowner such as the developer. If you are considering making alterations to the property, then you should inform your solicitor who will be able to advise you on the possible issues.

“We are buying in joint names. It does not matter if we’re “Joint Tenants” or “Tenants in Common”

A joint tenancy is where the property is owned by all joint owners but with none of them having a separate and distinct share. If one owner dies the property automatically passes in whole to the survivor(s) despite the terms of the deceased’s will. Meanwhile, a tenancy in common is where each owner has a separate and distinct share eg 50/50 or 75/25. This form of ownership may be appropriate if you have contributed to the purchase price in unequal shares. If one dies his/her share is not automatically transferred to the survivor(s) but will pass according to the provisions of the deceased’s will or, if there is no will, under the Laws of Intestacy.