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Private Individuals > Residential Property > Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

Selling

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How long will the sale take?

This is a very difficult question to answer, as every transaction is different. On average, a sale will take 6 - 8 weeks, however many proceed quicker, and occasionally some take longer. The only assurance we can give you is that we will do everything within our power to ensure your sale proceeds as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

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What can I do ensure there are no delays?

  • Let us know as soon as you have secured a buyer so that we can make contact with your buyer's solicitor and start to draft the necessary documents
  • Return the completed Property Information Form and Fittings and Contents form to us promptly, and provide us with the originals of any Certificates, Guarantees and planning documents you may have
  • Reply to any enquiries we may send you as quickly as you can
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I have lost my certificates and guarantees. What do I do?

Do not panic, but let us know as soon as possible what documents have been lost. In most cases duplicates can be obtained, but where this is not possible, indemnity insurance can be arranged.

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I have a mortgage, do I need to contact my lender?

No. We will contact your lender for you and will request that they forward to us any documents which they might hold to your property. We will also ask them to let us have a redemption statement, and upon completion we will redeem your mortgage for you from the proceeds of sale.

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The buyers' survey has undervalued the property and/or recommended works. What do I do?

If the property has been undervalued, it is likely that your buyer will ask for a reduction in the purchase price. Before you agree to any such reduction, you should arrange for your own independent valuation to be carried out to be sure that the buyer's valuation is accurate.

If works have been recommended, you should ascertain what these works are, and obtain quotations. If appropriate, negotiations can then be made with the buyer.

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What does exchange mean?

Exchange of Contracts is when the agreement between you and your buyer becomes legally binding. The decision to exchange contracts should not be taken lightly, and we will not exchange until you confirm you are happy for us to do so. On exchange of contracts a completion date is set, and If you do not complete by that date, you will incur significant penalties. On the up side, once contracts are exchanged it is very rare for a transaction not to proceed to completion.

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What do I need to do between exchange and completion?

  • Book your removals
  • Inform your utility suppliers and insurance providers of the completion date
  • If you want the net proceeds of sale by bank transfer, make sure you give us your bank account details
  • If you have not already done so, make sure we have a mobile telephone number for you so that we can call you to let you know completion has taken place
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What is completion?

Completion is the day the ownership of the property changes hands. The buyer pays the balance of the purchase monies, and you must move out of the property and pass your keys to the buyer.

Buying

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Do I have to pay Stamp Duty?

The Autumn 2014 Statement made some major changes to the stamp duty land tax system and how duty is calculated. Buyers will now only pay tax at the relevant rate for each band rather than a flat rate across the whole amount. The changes are designed to make the system fairer by stopping the large jumps in tax payable under the old system. It is estimated that SDLT will be cut for 98% of people who pay it.

If the property is liable for stamp duty (as most are), from the 4th December 2014 SDLT rates are as follows:

£0 - £125,000 (0% of the purchase price)
Over £125,000 - £250,000 (2% of the purchase price)
Over £250,000 - £925,000 (5% of the purchase price)
Over £925,000 - £1.5 million (10% of the purchase price)
Over £1.5 million (12% of the purchase price)

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What are disbursements?

These are payments which we pay out to third parties on your behalf and will include: stamp duty, land registry fee and search fees.

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What are searches and why do I need them?

Local Search

The Local Search is mandatory where you are financing your purchase with a Mortgage against the property.

The Local Search reveals, among other things, whether the roads are maintained privately or by the Highways Department. It will also confirm whether the Local Authority has any proposals which might affect the property, such as road widening or traffic schemes. Also it will reveal any planning consents or breaches and the existence of any grants which might require payment.

Environmental Search

The Contaminated Land Regime was brought into effect in England on 1st April 2000, and applies to all land whatever its current use. The legislation requires all Local Authorities in England and Wales to inspect and identify seriously contaminated sites and to compile a register of contaminated land. Once a piece of land has been identified as contaminated, the Local Authority has may issue remediation notices on homeowners, requiring them to remedy the contamination. This liability is unlimited and any delay in dealing with remediation can lead to penalties being imposed on a periodic basis until the contamination is remedied.

The Environmental Search will provide information relating to historical flooding in the vicinity of the property, advice on Radon levels in the area and whether historic or previous use of the land may have left unstable land, pollution or contamination behind.

This is not a compulsory search and Mortgage Lenders generally do not want to see the report unless something is specifically revealed. However, due to your potential unlimited liability we will carry out an Environmental Search unless you specifically request us, in writing, not to do so.

Drainage Search

This search will confirm whether the property is connected to mains water and mains sewerage and will include a plan showing the route of the public drains. The search only deals with the location and route of the public drains and no details of any private connection to the public sewer are supplied. It is common for drains to be partly the responsibility of the Drainage Authority and partly private, particularly on residential housing estates, but in most instances the private section is relatively small. Where there is no public drainage system close to the property, it is important for you to be in a position to assess the potential cost of future maintenance of the private section of drainage, since this might impact on your decision to purchase the property.

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What is a Land Registry fee?

Once you have completed your purchase, an application must be made to the Land Registry to have the title to the property registered into your name. The fee payable to the Land Registry depends on the value of the property, and the bands are as follows:

Up to £50,000 - £40
Over £50,000 to £80,000 - £70
Over £80,000 to £100,000 - £120
Over £100,000 to £200,000 - £190
Over £200,000 to £500,000 - £270
Over £500,000 to £1,000,000 - £540
Over £1,000,000 - £910

In some cases we are able to submit the application electronically and the fee reduces by 50%. In these cases we will refund the difference to you after registration.

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How long will the purchase take?

This is a very difficult question to answer, as every transaction is different. An average, a purchase will take 6 - 8 weeks, however many proceed quicker, and occasionally some take longer. The only assurance we can give you is that we will do everything within our power to ensure your purchase proceeds as quickly and as smoothly as possible.

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What can I do to ensure there are no delays?

  • Instruct us as soon as you have found a property to buy
  • Arrange your mortgage at the earliest possible opportunity
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Do I need a survey?

It is not mandatory to have a survey, but we would strongly recommend that you do. When you are buying a property, the seller has no legal responsibility to point out any defects to you, and it is therefore down to you to ensure that you are confident as to the condition of the property.

If you are getting a mortgage, you will pay your lender to arrange a mortgage valuation survey, however this is a very basic survey solely for the benefit of the lender to ensure that the property is worth what you are paying for it. The mortgage valuation does not tell you anything about the physical condition of the property or any potential problems that might exist.

There are two types of survey:

Homebuyer's Report

The Homebuyer's Report is recommended for houses that are under 50-75 years old. The surveyor will report on all visible parts of the property and will make point out any problem areas which may require work either straight away or in the future. The report comes in a standard form which is normally about 20 pages long, and will cost anything between £250 - £500 depending on the price of the property you are buying.

Structural Survey

The structural survey is recommended for houses that are more than 75 years old, or those constructed out of unconventional materials. The surveyor will check the property thoroughly and will provide a comprehensive report assessing the soundness of the property's structure and its general condition, as well as making recommendations as to areas which may require some work. Given the thoroughness of this report it will substantially longer than the Homebuyer's Report and can cost up to £1,000 depending on the price of the property you are buying.

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My survey has undervalued the property and/or recommended works. What do I do?

If the property is undervalued and you are getting a mortgage, the lender may not be prepared to lend you the amount of money you require to purchase the property. You should contact the seller to see if a reduction in the purchase price can be agreed.

If works have been recommended by the survey, you should obtain quotations for these works, and you may be able to negotiate with the seller for him to undertake the works prior to completion or to make a contribution towards the cost of the works.

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What is the difference between joint tenants and tenants in common?

When you buy a property with someone else (whether that be a spouse, relative, friend or business partner), you must give careful consideration as to how you wish to hold the equity in the property between you. We cannot emphasise how important this decision is, and we will always discuss your personal circumstances with you and advise you a to which method of ownership would suit you best.

There are two ways in which two or more people can own a property:

Beneficial Joint Tenants

You both own the whole of the property between you. This means that on the death of one of you, the whole of the property will automatically pass to the survivor, regardless of any verbal agreement or Will you have made.

Tenants in Common

The ownership of the property is held in shares, in any proportion you may agree between you. On the death of one of you, your share will pass in accordance with the terms of your Will or the rules of intestacy.

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What does exchange mean?

Exchange of Contracts is when your agreement to buy the property from the seller becomes legally binding. The decision to exchange contracts should not be taken lightly, and we will not exchange until you confirm you are happy for us to do so. On exchange of contracts a completion date is set, and If you do not complete by that date, you will incur significant penalties. On the up side, once contracts are exchanged it is very rare for a transaction not to proceed to completion.

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What do I need to do between exchange and completion?

  • Book your removals
  • Inform your utility suppliers and insurance providers of the completion date
  • Make sure any moneys required to complete the purchase are paid to us by cleared funds in good time for the completion date
  • If you have not already done so, make sure we have a mobile telephone number for you so that we can call you to let you know completion has taken place
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What is completion?

Completion is the day the legal ownership of the property becomes yours and once all the monies have hanged hands, you can collect the keys from the estate agent!

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When will I get the deeds?

When land registration became compulsory throughout the whole of England and Wales in 1990, Title Deeds became obsolete, and many properties now do not have any deeds at all. Following the completion of your purchase, we will deal with the land registration formalities, and will forward to you the Title Information Document, which is a printout of the Land Registry's electronic register, evidencing your ownership of the property.