Conveyancing: Frequently Asked Questions
Conveyancing is a tricky area of both business and law. People wishing to buy or sell their properties may have several questions that they feel embarrassed or hesitant to ask about. Here are a list of the most common queries most buyers or sellers often have.
- What does a leasehold property mean?
Answer: 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 50 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. 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.
- Can the same solicitor act both for me and for my buyer/seller?
Answer: Generally, since there is the potential for a conflict of interest to arise, the same firm of solicitors cannot act for both parties in a transaction – there are however some limited exceptions to this. Depending on the circumstances a solicitor can act as both your buyer and your seller and the firm may be able to arrange this for you.
- What is the difference between exchange and completion?
Answer: 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 decided. After the exchange of contracts you cannot 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 will be able to move in.
- What happens to the deeds to my house?
Answer: After the completion of the purchase of your property, your solicitor will arrange to register your ownership at the Land Registry. Once that has been confirmed to them by the Land Registry they will send the deeds to you – as the title to the property and any relevant deeds affecting the property are electronically stored at the Land Registry. If they are lost or destroyed copies can be obtained from the Land Registry.
- How long will the process take?
Answer: This is probably the most worrisome of conveyancing questions. The honest answer is it is impossible to know when. A seller or a buyer will often agree to complete by a particular date but that does not mean it will always be practically possible. To make matters worse estate agents usually endorse a seller/buyer’s promise to secure a sale although they know in practice they are not in a position to offer any guarantee. The problem is that while the basic process of conveyancing is the same in every case, the details vary greatly. If the property has a straightforward title and searches are returned promptly and are clear then a transaction could go through in less than a month. On the other hand a complex transaction with a long chain can take several months. The best time to ask conveyancing questions like how long will it take or when can I move is therefore once the title investigations have been satisfactorily completed. This will be several weeks after the start of the process.
Once you have all the information you need, you can make the right decisions about the transaction. That way, the transaction will be smooth, fast and stress-free.