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Conveyancing FAQs

Answers to your frequently asked questions about conveyancing.

How long will my home move take? What does the local search cover? How much deposit do I need to put down and when is it needed? What happens if something goes wrong? It’s time to shed a little light on the conveyancing process! All these frequently asked questions – and more – are answered right here.

Got a question of your own? Don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Q: What are anti-money laundering checks and why am I being asked to provide proof of identification?

A: During any legal process, lawyers are required to check the identity of their clients by requesting certain documents: this is a statutory duty under the Money Laundering Regulations 2017, as is taking steps to ensure we are satisfied that any money we are handling on behalf of clients does not represent the proceeds of crime, and does not further the aims of terrorism or crime. We are required by law to undertake a series of checks and, if any suspicions arise, to report these to the National Crime Agency. We ask that you cooperate with us when we are requesting your proof of identity and other documents such as bank statements and whilst we are carrying out our checks, as we are prohibited by law from continuing with any transaction unless we have the relevant information in our possession.

Q: What searches do I need?

A: There are numerous searches that will benefit you. Some of them are compulsory, in particular if you are using a mortgage to buy your property, as the lender will insist on them. Others are optional, but could be beneficial. You can rest assured that at Advantage Property Lawyers, we are committed to making sure you are equipped with the right information to help you make informed decisions about your purchase. So if there is a survey we believe will benefit you, we will let you know. For more detailed information, please visit our searches page.

Q: What does the local search cover?

A: The local search is a set of standard questions answered by the various local authority departments. They include who maintains the roads, breaches of planning, and the like. The information only relates to the property and does not cover neighbouring land. If you are concerned about neighbouring land then you should ask your conveyancer to order a ‘plan search’. There is more information about all types of searches on our searches page.

Q: Do I need a Survey?

A: If you are using a mortgage to buy your property, your lender will insist on a valuation to ensure the property is worth the amount you are borrowing. This should not be confused with a survey that reports on whether there are any problems with the property. A valuation is not designed to indicate defects.

For your peace of mind, and to make sure your investment and any plans for development are sound, you should consider either a Home Buyer’s Report, or a Building Survey. In particular, if you have any concerns about the condition of the property you are buying, or if it is old, thatched or listed, you would be well advised to arrange a survey. To find out more about what the different surveys involve, visit our surveys page.

Q: Do I need to arrange life assurance?

A: Life cover is designed to pay off your mortgage should you pass away, or be diagnosed with a terminal illness, depending on the type of cover. Generally people do not wish to leave a debt for their loved ones to repay after they’ve gone, so life cover is highly recommended. It will need to be arranged before exchange of contracts and a financial adviser or mortgage lender will be able to guide you as to choosing a suitable policy.

Q: What happens if things go wrong prior to exchange of contracts? Can I claim back my costs from the other party?

A: Until exchange of contracts there is no legally enforceable agreement. For this reason, unfortunately you will not be able to claim your costs from the other party. At Advantage Property Lawyers we offer a no-sale, no-fee guarantee, which means you will at least not be liable for any legal fees should the sale not go ahead.

Q: Can you act for my buyer or seller in this transaction?

A: Yes. Because we are Licenced Conveyancers we are allowed to act for both seller and buyer, but only where there is no conflict of interest and both consent to the arrangement in writing. At Advantage Property Lawyers we have very strict parameters to ensure that the advice given to both parties is independent and that total confidentiality is maintained. Different case handlers will be appointed to each party and they will be supervised by different managers.

Q: How long will it take?

A: Unfortunately, there is no simple answer to this question. It does depend very much on how co-operative everyone is. We know how important speed and efficiency are to you, and we would say that, to help your transaction move along swiftly, it will be helpful if you can provide all the information requested as soon as possible. If you’re ever not sure what you need to do next, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Q: When can we exchange contracts?

A: Exchange of contracts can only take place once a series of steps have been completed. For more detailed information, please see our conveyancing process page.

Q: Does there have to be a gap between exchange and completion?

A: In 99% of cases the answer to this question is yes. This is mostly to allow time to obtain funds from a mortgage lender and deal with formalities. Exchange of contracts is the first time there is actually a binding contract to buy or sell a property. If you exchange and complete on the same day there is always the risk that things might fall through at the last minute.

Q: How long do we need between exchange and completion?

A: We never recommend less than a week. In the run up to completion there is a great deal to do and it is best not to rush things unnecessarily: better to favour accuracy.

Q: When we sell our house, how soon do we get money due to us after completion?

A: Provided there is no contract requirement for us to retain the monies, for example if we have not received a final figure from your mortgage company, we can send the monies to your bank account electronically on the day of completion.

Q: When do you need my deposit and how much do you need?

A: We will need your funds cleared in our account to be able to exchange. The funds can be provided via banker’s draft, electronic or telegraphic transfer. If you give us a cheque, it will take seven days to clear. We cannot accept cash. On exchange we need 10% of the purchase price unless you are borrowing more than 90% of the value of the property. We will confirm this information with you in advance so you are aware of what is required.

Q: How are keys handed over on completion day?

A: The seller will usually leave the keys with their estate agent ready for the buyer to collect as soon as the balance of the sale price has been paid on completion day. In the absence of an estate agent, the seller will make arrangements to hand the keys directly to the buyer as soon as advised by his conveyancer. Whilst it is always our aim to make sure everything is finalised as early as possible on completion day, from time to time unexpected delays can arise. This is particularly common if there is a long chain involved. You should rest assured however that your Advantage Property Lawyers conveyancer will be experienced at resolving any such issues promptly, and will always keep you fully informed.