Buying or Selling your Home – Common questions answered

What are searches and why do I need them?

Searches are an integral part of buying a property.  If you’re getting a mortgage to help fund your purchase, your mortgage lender will require us to carry out searches.  These will include:

  • Water & Drainage Search – This type of search will enable us to find out whether the property is connected to the mains drainage and mains water supply.  It will also show whether there is a mains sewer passing through the garden of the property and if the property is on a metered water supply.
  • Local Authority Search – Apart from local road proposals affecting land within 200 meters of the property, the Local Authority search will only give information about the property itself, concerning the effect of Town & Country planning legislation, liability for road charges, compulsory purchase or demolition orders, financial orders and other matters which could vitally affect it.
  • Environmental Search – This is intended to reveal such matters as whether the property is in an area subject to flooding, whether the property is built on contaminated land, and whether there are any other environmental considerations e.g. radon gas.

It is imperative that we carry out these searches as they reveal important information and could shine a light on any potential issues that neither you, your conveyancing solicitors, the seller nor their conveyancing solicitors would otherwise have knowledge of.  The only scenario where we can proceed without obtaining searches is in the case of cash buyers who insist on foregoing searches and we would exclude ourselves of liability in this event.

How long will searches take to come in?

The time that it takes for searches to come back is not within our control since we obtain them from a third party search specialist who in turn is reliant on local councils and others.  Whilst we are provided with an ETA, this can vary depending on the local council in question.  Nonetheless, under normal circumstances we estimate that searches will take 14-28 days.

Can I Complete my transaction on a weekend?

It might sound like a good idea to complete and move in on a weekend, but unfortunately, completion must take place during the working week when offices and banks are open for business.

What does it mean to Exchange Contracts?

Exchange of Contracts is a pivotal moment in the conveyancing process as this is the time both the buyer and the seller become legally bound to the terms of the contract.  Before this point, either party can pull out without facing a penalty and only face their own costs and any reservation fee paid.  After exchanging contracts, either party pulling out will face a financial penalty for doing so.

After Exchange, how long do I have to wait until I can Complete?

In most cases, you won’t have to wait too long to complete after you have exchanged contracts.  In fact, most transactions choose to have a week.  This is, however, dependent on a number of variables – for example if there is a chain, the whole chain will need to agree on a completion date that suits everybody.

Can I Exchange and Complete on the same day?

Whilst not preferable in most cases, you can technically exchange and complete on the same day.  We call this a simultaneous exchange and completion.  This might occur in a transaction where there is no chain and the buyer is a cash buyer.  Nevertheless, in the vast majority of transactions, there will be a gap between exchange and completion to allow proper preparation time.

What is Stamp Duty and why do I have to pay it?

Stamp Duty or Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a government tax charged on land and property transactions in the UK.  It is paid by the purchaser and is calculated based on the purchase price.  When receiving a quote from us, our quote system makes a calculation based on the information we have at the time and the current SDLT rates.  Stamp Duty must be paid within 14 days of completion, but we will require the funds from you before completion takes place and if you are obtaining a mortgage, we cannot complete until we hold funds to cover the Stamp Duty amount.

Can I use Backhouse Solicitors if I am not local?

Of course!  Our processes are fully compatible with long-distance clients.  All correspondence can be conducted via E-Mail or telephone calls and our quote includes a fee for postage of documents.

Why do I have to show my ID and Bank Statements?

To comply with the Money Laundering Regulations, we need to receive 6 months’ worth of bank statements as well as proof of identification from you.  This cannot be waived under any circumstances as it is a legal and professional requirement placed on us by government and our regulators.  Sometimes it may feel that we are asking you for a lot of information but please be reassured that we have to obtain this from all of our clients.

Can you help me answer the Enquiries raised by the buyer’s solicitors?

In the first instance, we advise that you answer the enquiries sent to you to the best of your ability, as there may be queries raised that we cannot answer for you because nobody knows your property better than you.  However, a member of the team can of course provide guidance if required.

I have received a cheaper quote from another firm, can you bring your prices down?

There will always be firms willing to do conveyancing for a cut price, but with a cut price comes a reduced service level and costly delays.  Our fees are reflective of the excellent service and quality our clients receive.  If in doubt we always suggest that prospective clients check out the 250+ genuine 5-star reviews on Google from clients we’ve helped up to now.

What happens if I can’t get through to my case handler?

If your lead conveyancer is unavailable, don’t worry, because any member of the team will be able to assist you.  They can access and view your file and therefore provide updates and answer any questions you may have.  We don’t use call centres and the team all work closely together to progress your matter as quickly as possible.

Will I be charged any hidden fees?

No – the quote that we provide you with is based on the information obtained from you at the outset.  It includes a fixed legal fee to cover the work and it will detail all external charges such as search fees, Stamp Duty, Land Registry disbursements etc.  In the unlikely event that something unforeseen should come to light that could incur additional charges, we will of course notify you and discuss it further.

How long will it take to register my property with the Land Registry?

After completion, we will make an application for registration to update the title documents with your name(s).  Unfortunately there are severe delays receiving registrations back from the Land Registry and this can take many months.  Particularly hard-hit are New Build registrations which can take up to 12-18 months to be registered.  The delay will have no direct impact on your sale or purchase process, but if you do wish to sell your property before registration has been completed, this could cause an initial delay with the re-sale process.

How much will I be charged if my sale/purchase falls through?

If your transaction falls through, we will prepare a bill charging a proportion of our fee relevant to the amount of work carried out to that point.  We are unable to return any disbursements already incurred on your behalf as they will have been paid to third parties.

However, if you have chosen our No Move No Legal Fee option, you will not be charged the proportion of our fees in this situation but, as per the terms & conditions, you will still be liable for any disbursements already incurred, together with our fees for obtaining Searches.

Do I need a Will when I purchase a property?

A Will is a legal document that allows you to make decisions about how your estate will be managed and distributed following your death.  As a homeowner it is advisable to make a Will (or consider whether an existing Will needs altering or updating) when purchasing a new property as it is such a valuable asset.  This is particularly true if you are an unmarried couple purchasing a property as your partner will not automatically be entitled to a share of your estate.

What is the difference between Freehold and Leasehold?

Freehold – buying a freehold property means that the property and the land on which it stands will be fully owned by the purchaser.

Leasehold – buying a leasehold property means that the right to hold or use the property is granted by a lease from the freeholder for a fixed number of years.  Ground rent on the lease is paid annually by the leaseholder to the freeholder.  A service charge is also often payable.  This is the contribution determined by and paid to the freeholder towards the cost of maintaining the building and/or estate that the property is in.