For many first time buyers, finding the right solicitor to help them with conveyancing – the legal process of transferring ownership into your name – can be daunting. Heather Little from Beaumont Legal – First Time Buyer magazine’s Best Law Firm for Conveyancing in 2013 and 2014 – reveals the 10 most common questions First Time Buyers ask.
Do I need to choose a local solicitor?
Not at all. In the past, people used to take time off work to visit their local family solicitor, but, with modern technology, you can choose the best conveyancer for you from anywhere in the country. If you live somewhere like London you may be able to get a better deal by using a firm based elsewhere.
How much does conveyancing cost?
You can shop online for quotes, and the fee you pay depends on the value of the property you’re buying, plus other factors, such as whether it’s a freehold (most houses), or leasehold (flats). Conveyancing on leasehold transactions costs more, because these are more complicated, while other factors, such as buying through shared ownership, can also add to the cost.
Make sure you’re comparing like with like from one solicitor to another and, if one price seems very low, check what’s included. Many firms will give a quote for their fees as well as other factors, like searches and Stamp Duty, which they pay on your behalf, but some will limit what they include to appear competitive. First Time Buyer readers get 10% off fees from Beaumont Legal when they get a quote through beaumont-legal.co.uk, or by calling 0845 122 8080.
How long will it take for me to move in?
Sadly, this is never easy to answer, because it depends on every buyer, seller, solicitor and mortgage lender involved in the chain.
There are some general rules, such as leasehold properties take longer than freehold, and the more people that are involved in a chain, the longer it can take.
Be wary of solicitors or estate agents who guarantee to get you in before a certain date – it’s often out of their hands – and plan for some flexibility, in case your case takes longer than you think.
Do I need to visit the conveyancer’s office?
No, the days of needing to take time off work to see your solicitor are long gone. Each aspect of the process can be done remotely – documents can be scanned and emailed, or sent in the post – and you can speak to your conveyancer on the phone. However, you may pay a small charge for your identity to be checked electronically, if you don’t meet the solicitor in person.
What’s the difference between conveyancing and surveying?
Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring ownership of a property from one person – or group of people – to another, including the transferral of fees.
As part of the process, a conveyancer will look into factors related to the land a property is built on, such as boundaries, and whether there is a chance it may suffer from flooding or subsidence.
Surveying relates to the actual building itself – a surveyor will look at the structural soundness and condition of the house, flat and any outbuildings you’re buying, to check if they’re as good as they look from outside.
Does ‘no completion, no fee’ really mean ‘no fee’?
Most solicitors now offer this promise and, if your case falls through, they get no fees for the time they’ve spent on your case, but you will still have lost any costs they have already paid out on your behalf (these are known as disbursements). Just remember that, if you pay for a search that reveals that the property is a nightmare, it will be well worth the cost!
Why does conveyancing cost more on a flat than a house?
This is because most houses are freehold and most flats are leasehold. With a freehold, you buy the property and the land it is built on, but with a leasehold, you buy a share of what is built on someone else’s land. Because the conveyancer has to check through all aspects involved in the lease (including rates you’ll pay and any special conditions you’ll have to follow), on top of all those involved in a freehold transaction, it takes them more time.
When should I instruct a conveyancer?
As soon as you decide you’re going to buy or sell – there’s no need to wait until you’ve found a buyer for your home or a home you’d like to buy, and having a conveyancer lined up shows how serious you are about moving. Call Beaumont Legal – First Time Buyer’s Best Law Firm for Conveyancing for the past two years – on 0845 122 8080 for a quote or visit beaumont-legal.co.uk