Moving house can be stressful! So you need to ensure that you work with someone who will hold your hand and guide you through the intricacies of the conveyancing process. That’s where we can help.
Our property lawyers give a friendly, efficient and affordable service. We embrace technology to ensure that we are as fast as we can be in getting you from the point of instruction to exchange of contracts, whilst maintaining a personal approach.
Some modern conveyancing firms work as ‘teams’ meaning that there is not one person handling your sale. Not our style! With us, you will have a designated property lawyer looking after your matter. That person takes care of you from start to finish, ensuring that you receive a personal and bespoke service.
We can handle all aspects of residential conveyancing work including the following:
Average costs for Residential Conveyancing
You will appreciate that costs may vary depending upon the specifics of each transaction, and we would ask that you contact one of the Residential Conveyancing Team Fee Earners to discuss the details of your matter further for the costs to be confirmed. The information below is not exhaustive and is intended for guidance only. Before we start work, we will discuss your property with you and give you a fixed fee quotation, so that you can be certain of the end bill. If there was any need to increase the fee, for example if the matter became unexpectedly complex, we would discuss all additional costs with you before moving forward so that you are fully up to date on the costs. There will be no surprises when you get our bill!
Our standard Fees for the legal work for buying, selling and remortgaging start from £550 plus VAT to £950 plus VAT (plus additional fees and disbursements) for a property valued up to £750,000. Properties valued over £750,000 are charged at .015% of the Sale, Purchase or Remortgage Price (plus additional fees, VAT and disbursements). The higher rate value of the property, the higher our fee. Every case is different and straightforward matters can be cheaper whilst more complex matters will naturally cost more. Talk to one of our team so that we can understand the ‘ins and outs’ of your property and we can then give you a fixed fee quotation to confirm the costs. Some of the additional costs that you might incur on top of our standard fees are as follows:
Shared ownership £450 + VAT
Leasehold £250 + VAT
Unregistered £100 + VAT
Mortgage Redemption fee £50 + VAT
Help to Buy redemption £250 + VAT
Equity Release redemption £250 + VAT
Bank Transfer fee (per transfer)
(Any additional TT’s required are charged at the same rate.) £25.00 + VAT
Land registry – £3 per document
AML ID Search £5.40 per name
Shared ownership £750 + VAT
Help to Buy Equity Loan £450 + VAT
Leasehold £250 + VAT
Unregistered £100 + VAT
New build £250 + VAT
Declaration of Trust £150 + VAT
Help to Buy ISA (per ISA) £50 + VAT
Mortgage admin fee £100 + VAT
Gifted deposit admin fee £50 + VAT
SDLT submission fee £50.00 + VAT
Initial Searches: –
Local/Drainage/Environmental/Coal or Salt mining £310 + VAT (on average – depends on the local authority)
Bankruptcy £2 per name
Official Search £3
AML ID Search £5.40 per name
Please note VAT is charged at the prevailing rate.
Land Registry fee USE HMLR FEE SCALE
Stamp Duty (higher rate if other properties)
Click here for the HMRC tax calculator for property in England or click here for the Land Transaction Tax calculator for property in Wales.
We DO NOT operate a “no completion, no fee” policy. Should you matter not proceed to complete, we reserve the right to charge an amount of the quoted fee which is proportionate to the time spent and work undertaken in your matter.
With respect to the Leasehold properties (both apartments and houses) there will also be third party fees that will need to be considered:
One off fees on completion of your purchase – In addition to the ongoing service charges and ground rent payments, there will most likely be one off fees payable to both the Landlord and Management Company (where applicable) on completion of your purchase. These fees are for the administration costs of the Landlord and any Management Companies, for dealing with the paperwork to transfer the property into your name, change over any Share Certificates and release restrictions that the property has with the Land Registry. We have seen these range from £50 to around £300 in most cases (and exceptionally one of £1500) depending on the companies involved as they each have their own individual requirements and the payments are mandatory. The request for this information is sent at the outset of the transaction to the sellers solicitors, and we will advise you of the costs involved as soon as we hear from them, so that you may budget accordingly.
One off fees on completion of your sale – You will be asked to pay a “Sale Pack Fee” when you come to sell and both the Landlord and Management Company (where applicable) will charge a separate fee for their respective packs. Again, we have seen this range from £50 to £500 for each company depending on their individual requirements. This is required so that the enquiries which the buyers’ solicitors will raise, can be answered.
Sometimes, particularly with retirement properties, there will also be “Exit Fees” whereby a percentage of the sale price is paid to the Landlord by the seller on completion and these provisions will be contained within the Lease.
Residential Conveyancing Department Solicitors and Assistants
Our team has extensive experience in delivering high quality work in all property transactions. The team has particular expertise in dealing with sales, purchases, remortgages and transfers of equity.
We have nine fee earners (Solicitors, Legal Executives and Trainees) and six Assistants within the team who may work on your matter. All Fee Earners and Assistants are supervised by Claire Hilton, as Head of Residential Conveyancing alongside her Deputy, Lucy Woods. In turn, any work undertaken by Mrs Hilton is supervised by Lucy Woods.
The firm also holds LEXCEL accreditation, the Conveyancing Quality kite mark and is listed in the Legal 500.
How long will my house sale/purchase take?
How long it will take from your offer being accepted until you can move in to your house will depend on a number of factors. The average process takes between 8-10 weeks. It can be quicker or slower, depending on the parties in the chain. For example, if you are a first time buyer, purchasing an empty property with a mortgage in principle, it could take 6 weeks. However, if you are buying a leasehold property that requires an extension of the lease, this can take significantly longer, between 2 and 4 months. In such, a situation additional charges would apply.
*Our fee assumes that:
-this is a standard transaction and that no unforeseen matters arise including for example (but not limited to) a defect in title which requires remedying prior to completion or the preparation of additional documents ancillary to the main transaction
-this is the assignment of an existing lease and is not the grant of a new lease
-the transaction is concluded in a timely manner and no unforeseen complication arise
-all parties to the transaction are co-operative and there is no unreasonable delay from third parties providing documentation
-no indemnity policies are required. Additional disbursements may apply if indemnity policies are required.
Glossary of Terms
We have set out below a list of commonly used expressions which you may come across during the course of transactions. Simply click on any for a meaning and explanation.
One of the most important things you need to know about – if you are buying a property with another person – is the difference between Joint Tenants and Tenancy in Common.
The mortgage advance money sent by any Lender (Bank/Building Society etc) to the Buyer’s solicitor. Nowadays this payment is usually sent to the Buyer’s solicitor using Bank Telegraphic Transfer (sometimes called ‘TT’)
Chain (of transactions)
A is a first time Buyer who is buying from B.
B is buying a house from C.
C is buying a house from D etc – all the way down to X.
X is buying a house from the late Y, who unfortunately died.
AND THIS COMPLETES AN EXAMPLE CHAIN
If any one in the chain pulls out, the whole chain may fail. Typically everyone will exchange contracts on the same day – to complete and move on the same day. THAT day (often a Friday) can be very busy indeed!
The date, or day:
- the full purchase monies are paid over to the Seller
- any Mortgage starts
- ownership is transferred to the Buyer
- the Buyer gets the keys to the property
- the Buyer can move in!
Any Contract for the purchase/sale of property should:
- be in writing
- set out the names and identities of the Buyer and Seller
- clearly describe (identify) the property
- contain the price
- specify the Completion Date
- set out any other agreed terms
- usually contain a provision for payment of a deposit, usually 10% of the total price
The Contract is prepared by the Seller’s solicitor with two identical copies. The Seller has one and the other is sent to the Buyer. When both are ready, and a Completion Date is agreed, they finalise the deal by ‘Exchanging’ their own signed copies.
The exchange of contracts concludes the agreement to Buy/Sell the property.
The Conveyance/Transfer is a legal document which actually transfers the ownership (or Title) of the property from the Seller to the Buyer.
The term ‘Conveyance’ refers to the ‘older’ description of this document before the introduction of compulsory land registration. Nowadays all transactions involving land have to be registered at the central HM Land Registry. In nearly all cases the transfer of actual ownership is done using a form required by the Land Registry – called the ‘Transfer’.
Last week ‘A’ bought a house from a Builder who insisted on ‘A’ promising and agreeing (covenanting) that he –
wouldn’t – keep pigeons at the house, park caravans at the front of the house, carry on any business from the house, build any extensions to the property (without the Builder’s approval) or generally be a nuisance.
These are examples of typical ‘restrictive‘ covenants.
Covenants can also be ‘positive‘ in nature
Instead of saying that he wouldn’t do something – a positive covenant may say that ‘A’ will put up a fence at the back, and will pay towards the maintenance of drains etc These covenants may be made to bind a future Buyer 100 years on. A future Buyer may still be required to carry out and observe those same promises given by ‘A’. Covenants are registered against the Title of properties and the Buyer’s solicitor will check these out and let the Buyer know if there is anything he/she should know about.
Usually 10% of the total purchase price and paid to the Seller when Contracts are exchanged. The Seller will occasionally accept less if there is a good enough reason.
If there is a chain of transactions then it is quite normal for the deposit paid by the first in the chain to ‘pass’ down the chain and end up paid to the ‘end Seller’.
These are payments which are made by the solicitor, on the client’s behalf, for things like:
- Any Stamp Duty
- Search Fees
- Land Registry Fees
- They are usually shown in the solicitor’s Bill but do not form part of the solicitor’s actual costs.
The Autoquote feature sets out the likely disbursements (which can vary according to location, price of the property, and requirements of any Lender [Bank/Building Society]) which may be expected to be paid out on top of the quoted costs. Please click (in the autoquote page) on any of the disbursements mentioned for a further explanation of them individually.
This is an expression which has a particular meaning in law but it is also used quite often to express the true ‘value’ of property – that is the ‘market value’ (or actual sale price) less the amount of any mortgage secured on the property.
Eg A house worth £100,000 but subject to a mortgage of £40,000 has an ‘equity’ of £60,000.
Exchange (of Contracts)
See also Contracts
See also the Legal Process
You can’t drive away a house like buying a car. Many enquiries and financial arrangements need to be made – and removal men have to be organised!
All the terms of the agreement are set out in the Contract and the Buyer and Seller each have an identical copy. When:
- everything is checked out
- the financial arrangements are in place
- everyone is agreed on the Completion Date (moving day)
The Buyer sends his signed copy of the Contract to the Seller and the Seller sends his own signed copy to the Buyer – by way of exchange! The Exchange of Contracts binds the Seller to sell and binds the Buyer to buy – on an agreed date.
Fixture, Fittings & Contents Form
This is completed by the Seller and given to the Buyer along with the draft Contract and Property Information form.
It sets out a full and comprehensive list of all the different kinds of fixtures and fittings which the Buyer will include (or not include) in the sale – and also those things which the Seller will be prepared to sell separately.
A fixture and fitting is any item which is ordinarily attached to property – and which is not likely to cause damage if removed. Obvious examples of fixtures and fittings are things such as fitted cupboards, fitted kitchens and curtain pelmets. Things like carpets and curtains are not fixtures. Things like light fittings can be more difficult to decide about. Light bulbs are not fixtures and some light shades may also not be. The majority of significant light fittings are – but it is best to be sure.
There are only two types of legal estate in land – or in other words, the extent of ownership.
- Freehold – absolute ownership
- Leasehold – a long Lease at a (usually) low rent
Freehold really means full, or absolute, ownership.
Leasehold is more limited than freehold. Leasehold land is really the benefit of a long lease – usually granted for 99 years or as much as 999 years. A nominal rent will be payable to the Landlord – which is usually the person who owns the Freehold. Of course, a lease of, originally, 99 years may only have a few of the original years left by the time it is sold. There are provisions in law which may entitle the ‘Tenant’ to force the Freehold owner to sell the Freehold to the Tenant – bringing an end to Leasehold.
Properties such as Flats are often Leasehold – particularly where there is some degree of sharing arrangement between adjoining owners. The rent can also include additional sums for management and sharing expenses.
H M Land Registry
All transactions involving land have to be registered at H M Land Registry – rather like registering the transfer of ownership of cars at Swansea.
The next part is boring. Read on only if you want to.
Each property (Title) is given a specific reference number – the Title Number. It contains a complete description of the property, including a plan, and gives details of any mortgage or any other matter that can affect the property. All this information is contained in a Register. The Owner is given a certificate of ownership called a ‘Land Certificate‘ If the property is subject to a mortgage then the Mortgagee (the Lender – Bank or Building Society) are given the certificate of ownership (for security) – then called a ‘Charge Certificate‘.
Index Map search
See also H M Land Registry
Nearly all properties in the Country are registered at H M Land Registry – with individual ‘Title Numbers’. It is possible to find out what the Title Number is for a property by carry out an Index Map search. This can sometimes help a Seller’s solicitor speed up the preparation of the Contract.
Joint Ownership (also see top)
If you buy a property with somebody else then the question of joint ownership arises. The owning interests will be held either as Joint Tenants or as Tenants in Common. This is an important issue.
See separate help on this subject.
Joint Tenants or Tenants in Common
Where property is owned by two or more people as joint tenants – then, if one dies, the property becomes owned by the survivor(s). In other words – if ‘A’ and ‘B’ own a house together as joint tenants – and ‘A’ dies – ‘B’ becomes sole owner.
Any beneficiaries under, for example, A’s Will, are completely excluded. They will have no defined share.
This is very important.
Married couples usually elect to own property as ‘Joint Tenants’ – but not always. Couples who have been married previously, and have other children, may not want their children to be excluded.
Tenants in Common
Where property is owned by two or more people as ‘Tenants in Common’ – they each have specified shares, for eg – one half. If one dies then their specified share will pass to their estate under any Will.
Young couples buying their first home together (if not married) will often want to be sure that any money (or share) they put into the property is ‘spelt out’. What if the relationship fails? Will you lose what you put into the property?
Some things to think about
- Are you married?
- If so, were you previously married and have other children?
- Would you want to exclude other children from any interest you may have in property if you died?
- If you were married previously, but have no children, are you putting ALL your savings into the new property (and is your new partner?)
- Do you want your spouse/ Partner to inherit all the property if you died first?
- If you aren’t married, are you contributing equally to the deposit?
- If not, should you specify your respective shares to help make it clear if you split up (or die!)
- HAVE YOU MADE A WILL?
Do take advice (separately if you are not sure!)
Mortgage Offer / Instructions
If a Buyer is having taking a mortgage to help buy a house, the Lender (Bank/Building Society) will – if it approves the loan – send out a Mortgage Offer to the Buyer. It sets out the Lenders conditions of loan. If the Buyer accepts the offer, the Lender then will send out Mortgage Instructions to the solicitor appointed by the Buyer. If the Buyer relies on the loan to buy a property then Contracts cannot be exchanged until the Mortgage Instructions have been received by the Solicitor. It is the guarantee that the loan will be made.
The Mortgage Instructions also instruct the solicitor to carry out it’s requirements – and the solicitor must do so.
Occupier Consent Form
This is usually a requirement of a lender.
The Lender (Bank or Building Society) will require any adult living at the property [it is taking a mortgage on] to sign a form of consent confirming:
- They are aware of the new mortgage being taken on the house
- They acknowledge that the Lenders mortgage will take priority to any interest they may have in the house and agree to it
- They have been advised on their rights before signing the ‘consent’
‘Any adult‘ will mean, for eg, any adult children or family or tenants etc – OTHER THAN THE OWNERS SIGNING FOR THE MORTGAGE The reason is quite simple. If the Lender has to take repossession proceedings at any time – it is to prevent an occupier suddenly saying something like – I did not sign for the mortgage and I claim to own a share in the property – you can’t repossess the property while I live here. If the occupier signed the occupier consent form then the Lender could take repossession whether the occupier claimed to own a share or not.
Pre Contract Enquiries
This is an extremely important part of the buying process.
As well as checking that the Seller is entitled to sell the property (has good Title) the Buyer thinks he is buying – the Buyer’s solicitor will try and find out as much as possible about the property. The Seller should give a lot of information in a ‘Property Information Form’ – but the Buyer will want to check this and this is his/her chance to ask any other questions. Typically the Buyer will want to know:
- have their been any neighbour disputes?
- if the Deeds don’t show it (and sometimes they don’t) who owns the boundaries or usually maintains them?
- has any building work been carried out which should have Planning Permission (and doesn’t!)
- does the property have any damp proof course, double glazing etc – and any guarantees
- etc etc
A questionnaire will also be sent to find out what fixtures and fittings are, or are not, included in the sale/purchase. At this time the Seller’s solicitor will also carry out ‘Searches’ (ask questions about the property) with, typically, the Local Authority, Coal Board, Water Board etc.
The purpose of all this is to make sure the Buyer knows as much as possible about what he/she is buying – including any problems which might seriously affect the property’s future value.
Prepare / Draft Contract
It is the responsibility of the Seller’s solicitor to prepare the written Contract. That solicitor will write to the Bank/Building Society (if there is a Mortgage) to ‘borrow’ the Deeds so that the solicitor can make sure the Contract includes a proper description and contains everything that it needs to. The Contract prepared (drafted) by the Seller’s solicitor is then sent to the Buyer’s solicitor to check over and, importantly, to check against the Title of the property. The Buyer’s solicitor will want to make sure the Buyer is getting everything he thinks he is getting and that there are no nasty surprises. If the Buyer’s solicitor is satisfied then the Contract is said to have been ‘approved‘.
Property Information Form
See also Pre Contract enquiries.
This is a basic information form which the Seller completes setting out what he/she knows about the property. Misleading, or false, information could entitle the Seller to sue for damages (and in extreme cases to overturn the sale) if the Buyer might not have gone ahead with the purchase had he/she known the truth!
It needs to be completed truthfully and accurately.
- Local Search
- Official Search
- Bankruptcy Search
- Brine Board/ Coal Board Search
- Enviromental Search
- Land Charges Search
- Index Map Search and Commons Search
See ‘Disbursements’ and also our Autoquote feature – which give explanations by clicking on the different disbursements shown on the quote page.
“My word is my bond”
Solicitors are absolutely bound to carry out any undertaking they give. They face serious charges of professional misconduct if they do not.
In reality – many day to day transactions cannot be carried out unless solicitors know for certain that they cannot rely on any undertaking given by another solicitor.
For example, when a Buyer pays for a house – it is vital that any existing mortgage is discharged (otherwise the Buyer may become responsible for it). A Buyer’s solicitor will only pay the purchase money on the basis of the Seller’s solicitor’s undertaking to discharge any mortgage after completion (usually out of the Purchase money).