Our Services

Conveyancing Solicitors

Whether you are buying or selling a home, it is important that you understand what is involved and how the Conveyancing process works.  Having a good grasp of the process will help alleviate some of the stresses that you may encounter during your move.

For this reason, we have set out a step-by-step guide below for a typical sale and purchase transaction.

Selling a Property

  1. Instruct your Solicitor – This can be done before you have accepted an offer on the property or once the sale has been agreed.  When looking for the right Solicitor for you, it is important to consider not only costs, but also to check that the Solicitor is the right person to guide you through the transaction, as well as one that understands your expectations and is able to fully meet them.  We will be happy to discuss this matter with you and provide you with a free, no obligation, quotation.
  2. Evidence of Identity – At the start of the transaction, we will need to carry out some standard identification checks.  This will require that you produce proof of your identity and address.   This can be by way of either producing your Passport or Photocard Driving Licence, along with a utility bill or bank/building society statement dated within the last three months. If for any reason you are unable to attend our offices, in certain circumstances, we would be prepared to accept copies of these documents that have been certified by another solicitor.
  3. Property Information Forms – We will ask you to complete these standard Law Society forms which will provide the buyer with information about the property, relating to such issues as boundaries, disputes or additional charges levied against the property.  At this time, we would also ask that you provide any relevant documentation that you hold, such as any guarantees, warranties or FENSA/Gas Safe Certificates.
  4. Title – If the property is registered, then a copy of the Title will be obtained online from the Land Registry.  This will be the case for the majority of properties, since registration of properties with the Land Registry has been compulsory for some years now.  For example, in Chelmsford, compulsory registration has been in place since 1st November 1985.  In the event that your property remains unregistered, you will need to provide us with all of the Title Deeds and documentation that you retain.  Depending upon whether you have a mortgage, these may be held by your Lender for the duration of the mortgage and we will obtain directly from them.
  5. Issuing Contract Papers – Once the buyer’s Solicitor have confirmed their instructions, we will submit a draft Contract, along with the Property Information Forms and any other documentation that you may have supplied us with.
  6. Searches and Enquiries - Upon receipt of the Contract papers, the buyer’s Solicitor will put in hand any relevant searches, which usually include a Local Authority Search, Environmental Search and Water and Drainage Search.   Once the results are received, the buyer’s Solicitor will raise any enquiries that may have arisen as a result of the search results or other information supplied.  The enquiries will be forwarded to you for your response.
  7. Approval of Contract – When raising enquiries, it usual for the buyer’s Solicitor to approve the draft Contract.  Once agreed, the Contract will be sent to you for signature.  It is important to be aware that signing the Contract at this stage does not commit you to the sale.  The Contract only becomes binding upon formal exchange between us and the buyer’s Solicitor.
  8. Exchange of Contracts – Once the buyer’s Solicitor are satisfied with the search results and replies to enquiries and are in receipt of a mortgage offer (if required), Contracts can be exchanged.  It is important that prior to this, all parties have agreed on a suitable Completion Date and your estate agent will be best placed to help negotiate this if needs be.  Exchange is undertaken over the telephone and there is no need for you to be present.  Once Contracts have been exchanged, both parties are committed to the agreed Completion Date.  At this time, we will obtain a redemption figure from any Lender in order that we can repay the mortgage debt upon completion.
  9. Transfer Deed – If this has not already been dealt with prior to exchange of Contracts, which it often is, the buyer’s Solicitor will forward a Transfer Deed to us for approval.  This is the Deed that will formally transfer ownership of the property from your name into that of the buyer.  Once approved, we will send this to you for signature and it must be returned to us prior to completion.
  10. Completion – On the day of completion, it is important that you are ready to move as early on in the day as possible.  Once we have received the completion monies from the buyer’s Solicitor, the property will immediately be owned by the buyer.  You will need to make arrangements to hand over the keys, which is usually done through the estate agent. We will then redeem any mortgage, pay the estate agent and transfer the balance either to you, or if you also purchasing, then the money will be passed on to your seller’s Solicitor.

Note: For the purposes of these guidance notes, we have set out below the process for a purchase, independent of any sale.  If you are also selling, then some of the steps noted below will be a repeat of the guidance notes for Selling a Property.

Buying a Property

  1. Instruct your Solicitor – This can be done before you have had your offer accepted, or once the buyer has agreed to sell the property to you.  When looking for the right Solicitor for you, it is important to consider not only costs, but also to check that the Solicitor is the right person to guide you through the transaction, as well as one that understands your expectations and is able to fully meet them. We will be happy to discuss this matter with you and provide you with a free, no obligation, quotation.
  2. Survey – It is important to recognise the distinction between a Survey and a Mortgage Valuation.  The former is undertaken for your benefit and will highlight possible structural problems that may require attention and which could ultimately be very costly to you, should they not be discovered prior to exchanging Contracts.  Typical problems that a Surveyor’s report can identify include damp in the walls, wet or dry rot, subsidence and electrical issues. By comparison, a Mortgage Valuation is a simple report prepared for your Lender’s benefit, to establish that the property is good security for their loan.  
  3. Evidence of Identity – At the start of the transaction, we will need to carry out some standard identification checks.  This will require that you produce proof of your identity and address.   This can be by way of either producing your Passport or Photocard Driving Licence, along with a utility bill or bank/building society statement dated within the last three months. If for any reason you are unable to attend our offices, in certain circumstances, we would be prepared to accept copies of these documents that have been certified by another solicitor.
  4. Contract Papers - The seller’s Solicitors will supply us with a pack of documentation, which will comprise of a draft Contract for us to approve, a copy of the seller’s Title, Property Information Forms and any other documentation that the seller holds in connection with the property. 
  5. Searches and Enquiries – Upon receipt of the Title, we will be able to put in hand the searches.  Ordinarily, this will include a Local Authority Search, Water and Drainage Search and Environmental Search.  Depending upon the results of these reports, additional searches may be required, such as a Flood Report or Ground Stability Report.  At this time, we will raise any enquiries that we may have on the property, which will be sent to the seller’s Solicitors for response. If the property that you are purchasing is Leasehold, we will also send a standard Managing Agents Questionnaire to the seller’s Solicitor which will in turn be sent on to relevant Landlord/Managing Agents/Residents Association.  This will provide information about Service Charges, Ground Rent and any planned Major Works.
  6. Mortgage Offer – There is no set time for a Mortgage Offer to be received, but the earlier on in the transaction we have the Offer the better, as it will allow us to report any issues to the Lender early on in the transaction so as to avoid any delays.   Upon receipt of the Offer, we will report to you on its contents and send the Mortgage Deed of signature. Please note that we will also require a copy of the Mortgage Valuation and you should forward this to us, as many Lenders do not send these with the Mortgage Offer any longer. 
  7. Report on Title – Once we have received satisfactory results of the searches and enquiries raised with the seller’s Solicitor, we will prepare a report on the property.  This will contain information about the Title and will detail any relevant rights, covenants and restrictions which may affect your use and enjoyment of the property.  We will explain the search results and highlight anything that may be adverse to your purchase.  It is important that you read our report carefully and confirm to us that you are happy with its contents.  When sending our report, we will also provide you with the Contract for signature. It is important to be aware that signing the Contract at this stage does not commit you to the purchase.  The Contract only becomes binding upon formal exchange between us and the seller’s Solicitor.
  8. Deposit – It is usual for a 10% deposit to be paid on exchange of Contracts.  However, where you have a property that is also being sold, it is common for the deposit received on your sale to be used in connection with your purchase.  It is important that any reduced deposit be agreed early on in the transaction. The deposit acts as security for the seller in case you change your mind or for some reason are unable to pay the balance and complete the purchase. If that happens, the seller can keep your deposit and may commence Court proceeding if the deposit is not enough compensation for breach of Contract.

It is standard practice to request evidence of the source of deposit funds.  If funds have accrued by way of long term savings, we will require a minimum of twelve months bank statements showing regular and consistent payments to this account.  If the funds have originated from the sale of a house or a remortgage, then we will require a copy of the completion statement from your Solicitor acting for you in this matter, together with the bank statement which evidences the money being deposited.  If the deposit has been funded by way of realisation of shares and investments, gift or inheritance, then we will provide you with details of the information that we require.  Finally, it is important that funds are transferred directly from your own account rather than from any third party.

  1. Exchange of Contracts - Once we are satisfied with the search results and replies to enquiries and are in receipt of a mortgage offer (if required), Contracts can be exchanged.  It is important that prior to this, all parties have agreed on a suitable Completion Date and the estate agent will be best placed to help negotiate this if needs be.  Exchange is undertaken over the telephone and there is no need for you to be present.  Once Contracts have been exchanged, both parties are committed to the agreed Completion Date.  The Law Society’s Standard Conditions of Sale state that the property is at your risk as of exchange of Contracts and therefore buildings insurance must be put in place on the day of exchange.
  2. Pre-Completion - Once Contracts have been exchanged, we will carry out our pre-Completion searches and request the mortgage advance from your Lender.  Please note that most Lenders require a minimum of five working days to draw down the mortgage and some longer than this.  We will also prepare a Transfer Deed for you to sign, which is the document that will transfer formal ownership of the property from the seller’s name into your name and which will be sent to the Land Registry following completion.  Finally, we will request any balance due from you in order to complete your purchase.  Please do be aware that cleared funds will need to be in our account no later than the close of business the day before Completion.
  3. Completion – On the day of completion, we will send the purchase monies to the seller’s Solicitors.  Once they have received this, the property will be yours and you can arrange to collect the keys, which are usually left with the estate agent.   It is your responsibility to update your Council Tax details, utility suppliers and rearrange post.
  4. Post-Completion - We will pay the Stamp Duty payable to HMRC and once we are in receipt of the Title Deeds, Transfer signed by the seller and proof of the discharge of their mortgage, we will register your ownership with the Land Registry.  A copy of the updated Title will be sent to you and any Lender once registration is complete.

Remortgage

  1. Instruct your Solicitor – Once you have agreed the terms of your new Mortgage with the Lender, you will be asked to provide details of your appointed Solicitor.  When looking for the right Solicitor for you, it is important to consider not only costs, but also to check that the Solicitor is the right person to guide you through the transaction, as well as one that understands your expectations and is able to fully meet them.  We will be happy to discuss this matter with you and provide you with a free, no obligation, quotation.
  2. Evidence of Identity – At the start of the transaction, we will need to carry out some standard identification checks.  This will require that you produce proof of your identity and address.   This can be by way of either producing your Passport or Photocard Driving Licence, along with a utility bill or bank/building society statement dated within the last three months. If for any reason you are unable to attend our offices, in certain circumstances, we would be prepared to accept copies of these documents that have been certified by another solicitor.
  3. Property Information Forms - Whilst you are not selling the property, we will still require you to complete online the Law Society’s Property Information Forms, so that we can ensure that we have details of all works you have done to the property and relevant certification for works carried out. 
  4. Title and Searches – Once we have received a copy of the Mortgage Offer, we will be able to check the Lender’s requirements in relation to searches.  Some Lenders require full Local, Environmental and Water and Drainage Searches, whilst others will accept No Search Indemnity Insurance.   We will also obtain a copy of your Title from the Land Registry and check that there the property benefits from any required rights and that there are no onerous or breached covenants or restrictions.
  5. Mortgage Deed - We will report to you on the Mortgage Offer and send to you the Mortgage Deed to sign and return. At this time, we will contact your existing Lender for details of the amount they require to redeem your current mortgage and release their charge registered against the property.
  6. Pre-Completion – Once we are satisfied that the property is good and marketable from your Lender’s perspective then we will undertake our pre-Completion searches and request funds from your new Lender.
  7. Completion – On the day of completion, we will transfer monies to redeem your existing Mortgage and forward any balance due to you.  We will register the new Mortgage with the Land Registry and provide you with updated copies of the Title upon receipt of the same.

Transfer of Equity

A Transfer of Equity is a change in the ownership status of a property. This may arise as a result of wanting to add a spouse to the Title or remove an ex-partner following divorce.  It can also include changing the percentage shares owned by the co-owners of a jointly owned property or buy out a co-owner's share in the property.

The following is a guide to the stages that will need to be undertaken to transfer the equity in a property:

  1. Title - Once instructed, we will obtain a copy of the Title from the Land Registry.  This will enable us to ascertain the name or names that the property is currently registered in.  You should be aware that a Transfer of Equity has the potential to create a conflict of interest between the parties to the Transfer.  For this reason, it is common for each party to instruct their own Solicitor.
  2. Evidence of Identity – At the start of the transaction, we will need to carry out some standard identification checks.  This will require that you produce proof of your identity and address.   This can be by way of either producing your Passport or Photocard Driving Licence, along with a utility bill or bank/building society statement dated within the last three months. If for any reason you are unable to attend our offices, in certain circumstances, we would be prepared to accept copies of these documents that have been certified by another solicitor.
  3. Mortgage - If there is a mortgage on the property, the consent of the Lender to the Transfer will need to be obtained and you should be aware that the Lender may charge you an administration fee for this.  The Lender may also wish for any incoming party to becoming a party to the mortgage or they may change the terms of the mortgage before agreeing to the Transfer.  In the event that the Lender does not give their consent to the mortgage, then if you wish to proceed with the Transfer, you may need to remortgage with another Lender to redeem the existing mortgage. Please see our guidance notes on Remortgaging for further details of this process.
  4.  Transfer Deed – We will prepare the form of Transfer, which will be sent to all parties for signature.  Once we hold the signed Transfer, we will complete the Deed and register it with the Land Registry.  We will provide you with a copy of the update Title upon receipt of the same.
  5. Stamp Duty – It is important to be aware that there are Stamp Duty implications to a Transfer of Equity. In some circumstances there are exemptions which means that Duty is not payable for example transfers pursuant to divorce settlements.  However, in most other cases, Stamp Duty will be assessed in the normal way.  The following two examples are useful by way of explanation:

Example 1

A property has a value of £180,000.00. Peter, as owner of the property, has equity of £90,000.00 and an outstanding mortgage of £90,000.00. Peter transfers a half share of the property to his partner Claire.

Claire:

  • Pays cash for half of the equity - £45,000.00
  • Takes responsibility for 50% of the outstanding mortgage - £45,000.00

So the consideration for SDLT is £90,000.00, made up of the:

  • Cash payment
  • 50% share of the outstanding mortgage

As £90,000.00 is below the current Stamp Duty Land Tax threshold, there is no tax to pay, albeit that HMRC will need to be notified and we will attend to this on your behalf following completion

Example 2

John owns a property valued at £500,000.00 with an outstanding mortgage of £400,000.00.  John transfers half the property to his partner Anne when they marry.  Anne takes on 50% of the mortgage ie £200,000.00.

HMRC charge Stamp Duty Land Tax on the amount paid for a property or the amount of ‘consideration’ given.

By taking liability for the mortgage, the Anne has given ‘consideration’ of £200,000.00 for her share of the property.  Using current Stamp Duty rates, there will be a tax liability of £1,500.00, which is made up of 0% of £125,000.00 plus 2% of £75,000.00.

This amount will need to be paid to HMRC upon completion of the Transfer of Equity and funds will need to be with us to meet this liability prior to completion.

 

  • Vivienne Macfarlane
      • 01245 457 444
      • 01245 349 697
      • View profile
  • Tracey Boyce
      • 01245 264 748
      • View profile
  • Nnena Eka
      • 01245 457 444
      • 01245 349 697
      • View profile
  • Paminder  Johal
      • 01245 457 444
      • 01245 349 697
      • View profile
  • Jeremy Monod
      • 01702 298 282
      • 01702 298 559
      • View profile