Buying or selling a house and interested in a quote for our services?

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This factsheet gives you a brief overview of the conveyancing process, along with information about Bolt Burdon and our approach to property transactions to help reduce stress, coordinate the transaction, and ensure that you understand what is happening every step of the way.

Find out about…

  • Drawing up, submitting, and approval of the contract
  • Local and miscellaneous searches
  • The mortgage offer and survey
  • The exchange of contracts and final formalities

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Buying a home is an exciting time, and it’s natural to have many questions. We’ve answered some of the most common below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, drop us a line here.

How long does a typical property transaction take?

Usually between 4 to 8 weeks to complete, from giving instructions to moving in. Being in a chain can slow things down, as the whole chain can only move as fast as the slowest link.

How much deposit will I have to pay and when?

Most contracts require 10% of the property purchase price to be paid and cleared by the time of exchange. In exceptional circumstances, a seller may accept a deposit of less than 5%- however, if you decide to not complete the purchase of the property, the contract will normally require that 10% of the deposit is paid.

If you are also selling a property, it is common to use the deposit that is received on your sale as the deposit on your purchase, and to request that the seller accepts this, even if it is less than 10%. When buying a new property from a developer, you may be required to pay a small non-refundable reservation deposit.

What if I change my mind and no longer want to buy?

You can withdraw from the purchase of the property at any time before exchange of contracts. You could lose any money spent on surveys and searches. Aer exchange of contracts both parties are legally obligated to complete the sale/purchase. If you do not complete you can be sued for breach of contract and are likely to lose the deposit you have paid.

What kind of survey should I have?

Please note that in relation to the purchase of property and its physical condition, the law is “let the buyer beware”. You must satisfy yourself by inspection and survey that the property you are buying is sound. This has to be done prior to exchange of contracts, as once contracts are exchanged you are legally bound to complete the purchase of the property even if you later discover physical defects in the property, and you will not be entitled to compensation. The most basic survey is the mortgage valuation, which is carried out on the instruction of the lender and involves a brief inspection of the property and an assessment to check that the property is of sufficient value to protect the mortgage company’s interest.

You may wish to have a more detailed survey, for example where the property is a listed building. We will gladly recommend a professional surveyor.

Please click here for more information on the different types of property survey.

What happens on completion day?

Prior to completion we will make sure we have your mortgage funds (if appropriate) and the balance of funds from you ready to complete. On the day of completion, the purchase monies are sent from the buyer’s solicitors to the seller’s solicitors by same day CHAPS. The seller’s solicitors will not release the keys until they have received the money. Most sales complete between 12pm and 2pm.

Do I have to pay stamp duty and Land Registry fees?

Stamp duty is payable on all purchases where the purchase price is more than £125,000.00.

The scale for stamp duty is:

  • Nothing on the first £125,000 of the property price
  • 2% on the next £125,000
  • 5% on the next £675,000
  • 10% on the next £575,000
  • 12% on the rest (above £1.5 million)

From 1st April 2016, new stamp duty measures were introduced relating to second homes and investment property with different rates payable from the above. For more information on these please contact our team.

Land Registry fees must also be paid on a purchase.

The scale for fees where the property is already registered is:

  • £20.00 for a price up to £80,000.00
  • £40.00 where the price is between £80,001.00 and £100,000.00
  • £95.00 where the price is between £100,001.00 and £200,000.00
  • £135.00 where the price is between £200,001.00 and £500,000.00
  • £270.00 where the price is between £500,001.00 and £1,000,000.00
  • And if the price is over £1,000,001.00 the fee payable will be £455.00
Why do your fees differ for lease hold and freehold properties?

There is always more work involved in leasehold conveyancing. There is more paperwork involved in the purchase: for example, the lease and leasehold information (including up to date service charge, ground rent and buildings insurance details) obtained from the freeholder or managing agents. There are strict criteria that the lease must meet in order to be acceptable to a mortgage company. If it does not meet these requirements, the lease must be amended, which can involve additional expense for the seller.

How do I apply for a mortgage?

We can recommend mortgage brokers who will be happy to act on your behalf in finding a mortgage product that is suited to your particular needs. If you need a mortgage to purchase the property, contracts should not be exchanged until an acceptable written offer of mortgage has been received; verbal confirmation from the mortgage company is not enough.

What happens after completion?

Once we have completed on your purchase we will transfer the stamp duty on your behalf and register the property into your name(s). Once this has been done we will inform you and your mortgage company that the registration is complete.

Can you store my deeds for me?

Now that the property is registered, there are often no original deeds anymore. However, should the original deeds be supplied by the sellers, we are always happy to store these for clients in our central deeds storage unit.

When you’re selling a property, you’re bound to have questions. We‘ve answered the most common below. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, drop us a line here.

I haven’t found a buyer yet. When should I instruct my solicitor?

Although you don’t have to appoint a solicitor until an offer has been agreed and accepted, the process can be sped up, by appointing a solicitor as soon as the property is placed on the market. You will need to complete a set of standard information forms and you will also need to give your solicitor the details of where to obtain the title deeds (usually your lender if you have a mortgage) and if the property is leasehold, the details of the freeholder or managing agents so that up-to-date service charge information can be obtained at the earliest opportunity.

Why do I have to fill in these forms?

The purpose of the property information forms is to provide as much information as possible to the buyer’s solicitors. This should mean that fewer enquiries are raised later as the buyers will have all the information to hand. This should speed up the conveyancing process.

Where will my deeds be?

If you own a freehold property, it is unlikely there will be any “deeds” except for original guarantees for any work done and any indemnity insurance policies. If you own a leasehold property, there may be an original lease. We will request the deeds from your mortgage company but if you have any deeds or other relevant paperwork from when you purchased the property or any subsequent work you have carried out, you should send this to us when you return the protocol forms to us.

When will my mortgage be paid off?

Any existing mortgage will be paid off at completion of the sale of the property from the purchase monies. We will contact your mortgage lender when you instruct us on your sale to ask how much it will cost to pay off the mortgage and we will ask for an update aer the contracts have been exchanged and a completion date has been agreed. You may want to check with your lender whether you will be charged a financial penalty if you pay off the mortgage early; this often applies when your existing mortgage was set up on a fixed rate, or if you received a ‘cash back’ when it was originally set up.

Will the local authority search delay the sale of my property?

Searches can now be made online and most local authorities have a turnaround time of less than two weeks. Islington’s current turnaround time is approximately 5 days. My buyer has less than a 10% deposit at exchange of contracts. If you agree to accept less than a 10%   deposit on exchange of contracts, and the buyer fails to complete the purchase of your property on the completion date, they must pay the balance. However, you would normally have to go through the due legal process to recover your losses and it might not be financially worthwhile to sue the buyer. Fortunately, in practice it is extremely rare for a buyer to default, but you need to be aware of the slight risk if you accept a deposit of less than 10% of the price.

When will I get the proceeds of sale in my bank account?

On completion day we will transfer any balance (after the mortgage, our costs and any other related costs have been paid) to your nominated bank account. We can, for a small fee, transfer this the same day, or for no fee can transfer this on a three-day basis.

Your home is often the most significant asset that you will own during your lifetime. If you are buying it jointly with someone else, it’s important to ensure that both of your interests are protected.

There’s two ways to hold property as joint owners – either as Joint Tenants or as Tenants in Common.

  1. As joint tenants, upon the death of one of the owning tenants, the property automatically passes to the remaining tenants until there is only one tenant le. This tenant will then own the property outright. Holding the property as joint tenants will override any provisions you have made in your will about the distribution of this part of your estate.
  2. As tenants in common, each tenant will own a predefined proportion of the property. For two people this could be 50/50, or any other proportion. Often it will depend on what proportion each party has contributed to the purchase price, but this is not always the case.

If you are considering holding the property as tenants in common you must make a will, or your share will pass under the intestacy rules which might not be how you would intend it to be distributed.

Talk to the team.

Purchasing a new build property – whether through Help to Buy or otherwise – can be overwhelming. We’re here to remove the headache from the process.

Our team of specialist New Build lawyers will guide you through each step to get you into your new home as soon as possible.

Legal documentation can be complicated, which is why you will deal primarily with the same expert solicitor throughout your purchase. Their job is to provide you with clear and concise legal advice ensuring that the process is simple and hassle free.

You can rely on our many years’ experience of working with the Help to Buy scheme to take the stress and hassle out of the process,

We work on fixed fees, all of which are inclusive. We do not charge or add on supplemental fees, which means you can budget appropriately from the offset.

Talk to the team.

Buying your first home, especially in cities like London, is harder than ever. To help buyers get their foot on the property ladder, the Government offers a Help to Buy scheme providing various financial assistance to first time buyers.

We are fully registered with Help to Buy and are approved to deal with the loans. There are different schemes available that we can help you with:

1. Equity Loan – You can get a low interest loan towards your deposit. In order to be eligible, the new home must:

  • Be a new build.
  • Have a purchase price of up to £600,000 in England (or £300,000 in Wales).
  • Be the only one you own
  • Not be sublet or rented out after you buy it

If you are buying with an equity loan:

  • You need a 5% deposit.
  • The Government will lend you up to 40% (up to 20% outside London).
  • You need a mortgage of up to 75% for the rest (up to 55% in London).

2. Help to Buy ISA – If you’re saving to buy your first home, the Government will top up your savings by 25% (up to £3,000). If you’re buying with someone else, they can also get a Help to Buy ISA. You don’t have to pay it back and you can use the scheme together with an equity loan. To use the ISA the home you buy must:

  • Have a purchase price of up to £250,000 (or up to £450,000 in London).
  • Be the only home you own.
  • Be where you intend to live.

As part of looking after your purchase, we will liaise with the Help to Buy scheme to deal with the loan requirements and the drawdown of funds for the completion.

Talk to the team.

Your home is your castle, even if it literally is. Listed buildings are a special type of property – deemed to be of national importance, or of architectural interest. They’re listed in the National Heritage list, and our property specialists are able to advise you on the special considerations that need to be taken when buying a Listed Building, whether you are purchasing a local townhouse, an old commercial building for conversion or a country estate.

There are various ‘Grades’ of Listing, all of which have differing levels of impact on what you can and cannot do to a property. The owner of a Listed Building is responsible for maintaining its character, and for not making any unauthorised changes or alterations. If changes are made without consent, then legal action can be taken at any time against the owner – regardless of whether they made the changes or not – with potentially up to two years imprisonment and an unlimited fine, in addition to the cost of bringing the property back to an approved condition.

Our property team will guide you through the process.

We will:

  • Tell you whether the property is listed (and if so what grade), locally listed or in a Conservation Area.
  • Provide you with the listing information.
  • Investigate the history of any alterations that have been made to the property and whether the appropriate consent was granted.
  • Advice on what to do if it wasn’t.
  • Notify you of any other special considerations specific to the property in question.

Talk to the team.

Do you want to improve your home? Pay off debts or provide financial assistance to someone? Maybe even travel the world? An equity release mortgage allows you to access funds that are tied up in your property, while you continue to live there.

If you’re over 55, an equity release mortgage is a way to extract money from your property, drawing a lump sum or regular smaller sums from the value of your home as a loan.

There are certain risks associated with these types of mortgages, and they can have a negative impact on your finances. If, after seeking financial advice, you have decided that an equity release is right for you, we can provide specialist legal advice on the types of mortgages and what they mean.

We are proud to be members of the Equity Release Council – the industry body for the sector which represents lenders, advisers, surveyors, and solicitors. Our membership means that we are committed to ensuring that all consumers are protected and safeguarded.

We’ll provide you with the best possible advice at a competitive price so you can focus on what’s important to you. Get in touch with our wealth and estate planning team, who can also provide a comprehensive retirement and tax planning service and ensure that your wills and powers of attorney are up to date.

Talk to the team.