Some of the more frequently asked questions by our clients. If you still have questions just ask using the form below, we will be more than happy to help.
How long does it take to buy and/or sell a house?
Usually around 10-12 weeks however the time it takes depends upon a number of factors including but not limited to the speed in which other parties in the transaction act, how many parties are in the chain, whether there are any complicated factors to the sale or purchase i.e. the need for a lease extension and of course how quickly you want to move. The longer the chain and the more complications that arise (e.g. a Licence to Assign/Deed of Variation being required the sale of a leasehold flat) will inevitably cause delays. Click here for more information.
Do I need to have a survey carried out?
We always recommend that you have an independent survey (preferably a full structural survey) carried out on the property that you are intending to purchase. The mortgage company only carry out a valuation of the property and this would not necessarily pick up on any defects or structural issues whereas a full survey should.
Why have I been asked to provide proof of identification?
It is mandatory and a legal requirement that we carry out identity checks to protect against the risk of mortgage fraud and money laundering.
What is the difference between freehold and leasehold?
If you own a freehold property then you own the property together with the land it is situate on. If you own a leasehold property then you are effectively renting the land over a long period of time, with the land being owned by a landlord. It is possible to extend leases and further information will be reported to you in this regard.You own a freehold property including the land it stands on. With leasehold you effectively rent the land over a long period of time and the landlord owns the land it stands on. It is possible to extend leases and in some cases purchase the freehold – further information on this will be given to you when we report to you.
When do I need to insure the property that I am purchasing?
You will need to insure the property from exchange of contracts. A copy will need to be provided to us in order that we can check the terms are adequate for your mortgage company.
Do I need searches?
We strongly advise that you have the recommended searches carried out. When you are purchasing with a mortgage this will be a requirement of your lender. You will need to place us in funds (usually £400 on a purchase, and £100 to cover the disbursements on a sale) to enable us to carry out the necessary searches on your behalf, lead times for search results can vary. If you do not put us in funds to carry out searches at the outset, you will delay the process.
How much will it all cost?
If you are selling you need to budget for any applicable estate agent’s fees together with your legal fees. If you are purchasing you will need to budget for your legal fees, your lender’s valuation fees and your survey fees together with any disbursements (e.g. stamp duty, Land Registry fees and search fees).
When should I apply for a mortgage?
We suggest that you carry out some initial research before viewing potential properties to give you an idea of your lending options and suitability. Most lenders will issue a mortgage in principle before you find a definite property.
What is the difference between exchange and completion?
An exchange of contracts is the point at which the seller and buyer agree to commit themselves to the transaction. A completion date is then set as the date on which you move into your new property. This agreed completion date is written into the contract on exchange.
In some transactions, it is possible to exchange and complete simultaneously on the same day however this is not always in the best interests of both parties. There are a number of formalities to carry out between exchange and completion which must be done earlier if exchange and completion is to take place on the same day.
What does "drawing down the money" involve?
You should receive a written formal mortgage offer before exchange of contracts. Should this be acceptable to you, we will communicate with your lender to ensure that the monies are available in advance of the completion date.
How do I arrange handover of the keys to the property?
This will be dealt with by the solicitors on either side of the transaction. If you are selling a property, then the keys should be left with the estate agents. The estate agents will not release the keys to the purchaser unless they have been authorised to do so by the solicitors acting for the seller. The authority to release the keys is only given once the full and final purchase monies have been paid by the purchaser to the seller to complete the transaction.
If you are purchasing a property, you will be notified to collect the keys from the estate agent once the seller’s solicitors have received the purchase monies and completed the transaction with your solicitors.
If there is no estate agent, then the seller and purchaser must make alternative arrangements.
When do I know that the property is mine?
Once contracts are exchanged a legally binding agreement arises and neither party can back out. Until that point either party may withdraw. You will be notified by your solicitors once the transaction has completed and funds have been released and received by the seller’s solicitors, at which point, the keys will be released to you.
What happens following completion and when will I receive the deeds to the property?
Following completion, your solicitor will send an application to the Land Registry to register the property for you in your name. Legal documents are retained by the Land Registry electronically. Once the Land Registry have accepted the application and have issued your solicitor with an updated title information document, the deeds are yours to keep. We have a safe on site storage facility to hold your original deeds for you should you wish to use this service (free of charge).
When do I pay the legal fees?
You will be asked to put us in funds for search fees and disbursements at the outset of your transaction (see question 2). The remaining balance will be requested from you after exchange of contracts. We will send you a detailed completion statement at that time setting out figures and will require cleared funds from you the day prior to completion.