Conveyancing covers a multitude of sectors within the property industry. You will need the assistance of a conveyancing solicitor if you are buying or selling your home, wish to remortgage, transfer equity, and much more. There are so many steps that must be taken to ensure the transactions are fully legal and compliant – even the smallest mistake could have a hugely detrimental and time-consuming effect, and as there are usually a chain of people and properties involved, time is always of the essence.
Our conveyancing team have many years of combined experience and keep continually up to date with any changes to the laws regarding property. They can help you to progress with:
- the sale or purchase of a house or flat;
- the sale or purchase of a share in a property under a shared ownership scheme;
- the purchase of a property under a Help to Buy or Right to Buy initiative;
- the leasing of a flat;
- applications to extend a lease, including via rights of leasehold enfranchisement;
- the sale or purchase of property at auction;
- the purchase of new build property or any type of conversion;
- applications to register your ownership of a property with the Land Registry;
- applications to register your rights to claim ownership of a property through adverse possession;
- ascertaining the boundaries of your property;
- ascertaining rights of access;
- helping to remove redundant restrictions affecting your use and enjoyment of your property;
- remortgaging arrangements; and
- transfer of equity in your home.
Working alongside the lawyers in our team we can also help with any sort of property dispute, from problems with nuisance neighbours to attempts by your landlord to evict you.
Advising individuals throughout Chatham, Kent and beyond
We have offices in Chatham, Gravesend, Tonbridge, Maidstone and Tenterden where we can meet you to discuss your requirements.
We can also offer meetings at your home if needed, as well as a telephone appointment via skype if you are abroad.
The cost of residential conveyancing services depends on your requirements. We are happy to provide a no obligation quotation upon request.
How does the conveyancing process work?
Whether you are buying or selling you home, there are three main stages to the conveyancing process:
The first is offer and acceptance. Just as it sounds, this is where the buyer makes an offer to purchase a property and it is accepted by the seller. At this stage, the agreement is not legally binding. Either party can pull out for any reason and this is how gazumping happens, where the seller accepts a higher offer after already having accepted an offer.
Once the offer has been accepted, the buyer needs to conduct further enquiries to make sure the property is fit for purpose, such as carrying out conveyancing searches and obtaining an independent survey.
The seller is required to provide the buyer with property information forms and other information they need about things like fixtures and fittings, planning and any ongoing neighbour disputes.
The buyer should also get a mortgage at this stage if they need one.
Once the buyer is satisfied, the second stage is to exchange contracts. At this stage, the buyer pays the deposit and the transaction becomes legally binding – neither party can pull out without incurring penalties, such as losing the deposit.
The final stage is completion where the buyer and seller are ready to finish the transaction. The buyer will pay the rest of the purchase monies (usually via their mortgage lender and solicitor) and the seller will be required to leave the property. The transaction will also be registered at HM Land Registry.
What are conveyancing searches and why do you need them?
When buying a property, conveyancing searches, or property searches, are enquiries your solicitor will make on your behalf to find out more about the property and make sure it is suitable for your needs.
Doing conveyancing searches is essential to make sure there are no serious problems with the property or issues that could arise from its location. The mains searches your solicitor will do are:
- Local authority searches – to check for things like whether the property is in a conservation area as well as details about the local area, such as whether there are any planning issues that may affect you.
- Water and drainage searches – to check for things like access to public sewers.
- Environmental searches – to check for things like flood risk or contaminated land issues.
Depending on the type of property and where it is located, it may be necessary to do other types of searches, such as mining searches.
How long does conveyancing take?
It depends on many factors, but assuming everything goes ahead smoothly without any delays, the process usually takes around 12-14 weeks from the instruction of solicitors to completion.
What can cause conveyancing delays?
Delays can sometimes occur during the process which may be uncontrollable. For example:
- A conveyancing search may reveal an issue with the property or local area.
- The buyer’s independent survey may reveal an issue with the property that needs resolving or further negotiation with the seller.
- The buyer has trouble getting a mortgage.
- A delay along the property chain may prevent the transaction from completing as agreed.
- If the transaction is a probate sale, this can sometimes take longer.
Other external factors may also impact how long conveyancing takes. For example, the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 slowed a lot of conveyancing transactions down.
Your conveyancer will always keep you up to date about the progress of your transaction and will take all possible steps to speed things along.
What help is there for first time buyers?
There are a number of government schemes for first time buyers in England, including:
- Help to Buy: Equity Loan Scheme – which allows you to buy a new build property with a 5% deposit and 75% mortgage with the government providing up to a 20% loan.
- Help to Buy: Shared Ownership – which allows you to purchase a share of a property (between 25% and 75%) and pay rent on the rest.
- Mortgage Guarantee Scheme – where the government will back 95% mortgages, encouraging lenders to make these products more available.
If you live in or want to buy in Wales, there are similar schemes available.
Our team have experience handling transactions involving first time buyer schemes.
Do you need a solicitor to remortgage?
You will need a solicitor if you are looking to remortgage with a new lender. This may be the case if you are looking for a better deal, such as lower interest rates.
What is the difference between freehold and leasehold?
Understanding the difference between freehold and leasehold is essential when buying a home. Both ‘tenures’ are very different and your rights and responsibilities will vary depending on the type of property you own.
Freehold is when you own the property outright, including the land it stands on. You are completely responsible for its upkeep and maintenance. But, although you may have a mortgage, you do not have responsibilities to a landlord. There is no time limit on how long you can own your freehold interest. You will own it until you sell it, transfer it or die.
Leasehold is when you own a long lease to occupy a property, but do not own the land itself. You will have a landlord who owns the freehold to whom you will usually pay ground rent and service charges. The lease will run for a set number of years and as it decreases, the value of the property will decrease. It is usually important to extend the lease – which costs money – or take steps to purchase the freehold (called ‘enfranchisement’). Most flats in the UK are leasehold.
We can provide all the advice you need about freehold and leasehold property, including buying and selling freeholds and leaseholds as well as lease extension and collective enfranchisement advice.
Get in touch with our residential conveyancing solicitors in Chatham, Kent
Call us on 01634 811444 if you need our help. Alternatively complete our Contact Us form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.