Conveyancing FAQs – everything you need to know

How do I know if my property is registered?

The Land Registry hold an online database of all properties that are registered. This is something that can be checked online with the Land Registry for a small fee. If the property isn’t registered with the Land Registry, then it is known as ‘unregistered’. In this case, ownership of the property can be sourced from the old title deeds.

Do I have to have searches?

If you are purchasing a property using a mortgage, then your lender will require various searches to be carried out to ensure that there are no issues with the property that could devalue it.

If you are a cash buyer, then we would still advise that you have searches carried out to find out as much information as possible about the property before buying it. The most common searches include (but are not limited to) a local authority search, an environmental/contaminated land search, a water and drainage search, a chancel repair search and a coal mining search.

Although the seller will provide some information about the property, they may not be inclined to tell you everything and therefore searches are a great way to find out important information for yourself before proceeding.

Do I have to pay a deposit?

Yes, you will have to pay a deposit when purchasing a property. The deposit is generally 10% of the purchase price but can be varied to less or more than 10% if agreed with the seller. The deposit is paid on exchange of contracts which takes place a week or so before completion.

What do ‘joint tenants’ and ‘tenants in common’ mean?

If more than one person is buying a property, then they will be asked if they want to hold the property as joint tenants or tenants in common.

To hold the property as joint tenants means that both individuals own the whole of the interest in the property so that should one of them pass away, the other one automatically owns the whole interest in the property. As joint tenants, the land does not transfer under a person’s will or intestacy laws, it is automatically passed on to the surviving joint tenant.

Alternatively, to hold the property as tenants in common means that each individual proprietor owns an individual share in the property (this can be equal or not). If one of them should pass away, their share in the property would then pass under their will (to a family member for example) or via the intestacy laws.

How long does the conveyancing process take?

The conveyancing process differs from property to property depending on individual circumstances as there are many factors that can alter the speed of the process.It also depends on the complexity of the matter and also the number of parties in the chain.

What can I do to speed up my sale?

In order to progress your sale as quickly as possible we would recommend arranging for all documents relating to your property to be made available to the person dealing with your sale at the earliest opportunity.For example, if you have had work carried out to the property, e.g, new windows/boiler/electrics installed etc, ensure that you have all of the certificates/guarantees etc ready and provide these to your conveyancer so that photocopies of these can be sent to the buyer’s conveyancers with the contract package.

This may avoid delays in requesting documents from you and will save you having to search for these later or having to obtain duplicates which may delay matters.

Also, if the title to your property is unregistered, confirm the location of your unregistered deeds so that they can be retrieved and handed to your conveyancer ready for when a sale is agreed.

What is the difference between ‘exchange’ and ‘completion’

Exchange of contracts is the point in the transaction when the seller and buyer agree to legally commit themselves to the transaction and the buyer pays the deposit, usually 10% although this can vary.Upon exchange of contracts, the completion date is agreed and inserted into the contract.

The completion date is the moving date.This is the day that monies are transferred over to the seller’s conveyancers who in return send to the buyer’s conveyancers the transfer deed signed by the seller transferring legal title of the property to the buyer. This is also the date when the buyer can move in to the property and the seller must move out.Keys to the property are usually collected from the estate agents but this can vary.

What is SDLT/LTT and when is it payable?

If you are buying a property in England, Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is payable on the day of completion.

There are several bands for SDLT and the tax payable is calculated on the purchase price.Many factors need to be considered when calculating the tax as it varies whether you are a first-time buyer or if you are purchasing an additional property.

We have included a link to the HMRC calculator below:-

If you are buying a property in Wales, as from 1st April 2018, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) has replaced Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT).This is also payable on the day of completion.

Again, there are several bands of LTT and the tax is calculated on the purchase price. The LTT payable will also depend on whether the property is classed as an additional residence.

We have included a link to the Welsh Revenue Authority’s calculator below:-