Conveyancing tips straight from the horse’s mouth!
This is our list of conveyancing advice, as prepared by solicitors and conveyancers.
1. Always make sure your conveyancing firm is governed by the Law Society/SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority).
2. You don’t need to visit your high street solicitor anymore – you can do your conveyancing via email / telephone.
3. Online conveyancing is often quicker than using a high street firm.
4. If you get a conveyancing quote – always make sure there are no hidden charges.
5. If the firm of Solicitors or Conveyancers you are using has more than one office, then they can act on both sides of a transaction; that is, one side acts for the vendor, the other acts for the purchaser. This should help keep time scales down to a minimum. If they do not have more than one office, then they cannot act for both the vendor and purchaser, as this will be a Conflict of Interest
6. The BBC website states that the average solicitor fees (not including Disbursements & VAT) in England & Wales is around £550.00 but good, cheaper options are available if you shop around.
7. Following the abolishment of the HIPs (Home Information Pack) buyers now pay for the searches and the seller’s only have to supply an EPC (Energy Performance Certificate).
8. Don’t always go for the lowest priced Conveyancing firms; you normally get what you pay for. Similarly, you don’t want to end up paying a fortune.
9. Get several quotes and compare them side by side. Is there something one firm is quoting for but another firm isn’t? If so, ask them why and how much they charge for it
10. If you are buying a property, does it have a HIP***? If so, how old is it? Your mortgage lender will accept the searches found in a HIP as long as they are no longer than 6 months old. This will save you having to purchasing new searches.
11. Budget for extra disbursements – Some properties may be located in a mining area for example, so your mortgage lender will require a mining search to be carried out
12. Put aside around £200 to cover any extra searches which may come up
14. If you are a first time buyer, you will be exempt from paying Stamp Duty on a property which is under £250,000
15. However, if your partner has ever owned a property before you will not be able to purchase together as first time buyers
16. When remortgaging, ask your lender if the product also comes with free legals. This should save you hundreds of pounds in conveyancing fees, plus takes the hassle out of finding a conveyancer to do the work
17. Ask your conveyancer if they offer a no completion, no fee service.
18. Always check if your conveyancer charges for things like photocopying, emails and writing letters – some firms do
19. Ask your conveyancers if they offer online case tracking, and if so, is it free?
20. Thinking of doing your own conveyancing? You can, but it will take much longer and will be a lot more stressful than if you were to use a conveyancing specialist. You may find that you also struggle to get a mortgage offer
21. Buying a new build? Most developers want to complete and exchange within 28 days, so expect to pay more for your conveyancing.
22. Shared ownership purchases take the conveyancer longer to complete and as a result will usually cost more
23. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, over 28% of home sales fall through as a result of buyers getting cold feet
24. Set realistic timescales, on average it takes between 6-8 weeks to complete a house purchase or sale.
25. If selling do you have all the building regulation documents, relevant planning permissions, FENSA/CORGI certificates to hand? It could cost you more if you have lost or mislaid them.
26. If purchasing, make sure you have proof of your source of funds (money used other than the mortgage) for money laundering regulations, usually 6 months of bank statements – ask your conveyancer.
27. Are family or friends gifting you money to help with your purchase? Ensure you tell your lender and conveyancer as soon as possible.
28. Some firms have a client services team that can provide updates to you without having to wait or make an appointment to speak to your conveyancer – handy if you need a quick update or are unsure of anything.
29. If the purchase price changes inform your lender and conveyancer as soon as possible, it could delay the exchange as new documents and amended mortgage offers need to be put in place.
30. If buying/selling a leasehold property expert to pay slightly more for your conveyancing as the conveyancer will also need to deal with the property management company. In addition, be prepared for other charges payable to the managing agents for example apportionment of service charges, notice of transfer fees – these are not included in any quote you will get from the Conveyancing firm as they will not know how much (if any) is required until the conveyancing is half-way through.
31. If buying a mortgage in possession property (repossession), remember it is ‘sold as seen’. Any questions you have relating to the property may not be answered as the seller will have limited information. The same applies for executor estates.
32. Be prepared to be flexible with completion dates, depending on how long the chain is.