Here at enact conveyancing, we recognise that sometimes understanding the process and terminology behind buying and/or selling a property can be a little confusing.

With that in mind, we’ve put together our handy guide on the most frequently asked conveyancing questions based on terms we often use, as property lawyers, as well as the stages within the property buying and selling process.

Q. What is Conveyancing?

A conveyancer is a legal representative who deals with the legal process of the transfer of property ownership.

enact are a firm of licensed conveyancers, which means we are regulated specifically to conduct property-related transactions.

Q. How long does the conveyancing for a normal sale and/or purchase take?

Typically, the length of time it takes for a property sale or purchase to complete is approximately 8 – 12 weeks. However, sometimes this can be longer, for example, depending on the length of chain you’re in, or if something unexpected comes up in the searches or enquiries.

Read our guide to conveyancing to understand the process from start to finish.

Q. Why do I have to provide identification?

When buying and/or selling property identification checks, also referred to as ‘Know Your Client’ checks, are required by your conveyancer, banks, building societies and mortgage brokers, to obtain satisfactory evidence of the identity of their clients to meet with Money Laundering Regulations. This will be required from all individuals involved in the buying and/or selling of a property.

You can expect to provide the following, although we will let you know what we need specifically once you’ve asked us to act for you:

  • A current passport (that is in date) and/or photo driving licence
  • Proof of address/utility bills

Q. Can I use the same conveyancer for my purchase as well as the sale of my property?

Yes, keeping your property sale and property purchase with the same conveyancer is best practice. Liaising with two is possible, but it can make things a little more complicated and confusing in the long run.

Q. Are there any hidden costs?

Our conveyancing quote is fixed, so there are no surprises and if for whatever reason, your move does not go ahead, there is no fee.

For a normal conveyancing transaction, our quote consists of:

  • Our Conveyancing Costs
  • Disbursements and Other Costs e.g. Stamp Duty Land Tax Form / Land Registry Fee / Land Registry Searches / Electronic Money Transfer Fee
  • Stamp Duty (if purchasing a property)

We will only ever increase the fee, if, during the transaction, something comes to light which was unforeseen. If this did happen, we would discuss this with you before incurring extra charges.

Get your free instant conveyancing quote here.

Q. How will my case be managed by enact?

Our Online Case Tracker simplifies the process of buying or selling a house by giving you instant access to vital information and alerts about the steps you need to take. This market-leading service enables you to view paperwork online, offers you the ability to upload documents you need to get to us, and allows you to contact your dedicated case handler through secure messaging, or even Skype at a time convenient to you.

Q. What are Conveyancing searches

As part of the conveyancing service, we will order searches to find out more about the property you’re purchasing. Typically this will help identify if there are any potential issues, such as the risk of flooding. Also, when applying for a mortgage, the mortgage lender will insist that searches have been carried out.

There are searches which apply to all properties, however, there are additional location-specific searches available, for instance, if you live in a former mining area. We will let you know as soon as we can, whether any location-specific searches apply to your transaction.

Common searches include:

  • Local authority search
  • Drainage search
  • Environmental and flooding search
  • Location-specific local searches e.g. coal mining searches or tin mining searches

Q. What are Legal Enquiries

Legal enquiries are carried out as and when information relating to the property being bought materialises, including the draft contract, mortgage offer, survey (if the buyer has instructed one), searches and, if leasehold, the leasehold information pack are complete.

Therefore, once the buyer’s conveyancer has this information they’re then able to examine that information and if anything is missing or is unclear these points are raised with the seller’s conveyancer as enquiries, or questions to put it simply.

These questions are asked to help the buyer’s conveyancer to understand any potential legal issues that may affect the property that the buyer and or their mortgage lender may need to be aware of before committing to purchasing the property.

Our guide on ‘What are enquiries’ details this out further.

Q. What is the difference between a Leasehold and Freehold Property?

Understanding whether the property you are looking to buy is Freehold or Leasehold is critical as it will affect your ownership of the property.

If you buy a freehold property you own the property outright until you choose to sell or otherwise dispose of the property. However, if you buy a leasehold property you own the right to occupy the property for a fixed period of time by virtue of a legal document called a Lease.

For further information take a look at our guide here.

Q. What is the difference between an exchange of contracts and completion?

Exchange of contracts is a crucial part of any conveyancing process. It is the moment when the two parties become legally bound to complete the deal. At this point, the buyer’s lawyer will confirm the amount of the deposit being handed over on exchange. This is usually 10% of the purchase price.

When exchanging contracts, the “completion” date is also confirmed. The completion date, put simply, is moving day. It’s the date on which the seller must vacate the property and the buyer will get the keys and can move in. Fundamentally, on completion, the buyer must, through their lawyer, hand over all the remaining money required to purchase the property.

For further information, take a look at our guide on ‘Explaining exchange and completion’.

Q. At what point will I get the keys to my new property?

Completion day – the moment you’ve been waiting for! As a seller, you’ll move out of your old property and, as a buyer, you’ll collect the keys to your new home (usually from the estate agents).

Q. How much Stamp Duty will I pay?

Stamp Duty can be a bit of a minefield to understand as there are a few variables involved when working out what you will end up paying. Currently, you must pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property over the current SDLT threshold of £125,000.

However, it’s worth noting that if your purchase property or land is in Scotland or Wales you will pay a different tax. What’s more, if you or the person you’re buying with are first-time buyers purchasing their first home and the purchase price is less than £500,000 then the rules are also different. Anyone buying an additional residential property worth £40,000 or more will have to pay additional stamp duty even if the property you already own is abroad.

To make light work of this, HM Revenue and Customs have an online calculator which will take into account all the variables required to work out how much stamp duty you will be required to pay as a home buyer.

The same applies to Scotland and Wales.

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