Specialist Property Lawyers
Your Questions Answered

How long will it take?

Conveyancing is one of the most time consuming aspects of any home move. If the property is empty and the buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can be completed within a few days. However, this is very unusual and it is more likely a mortgage will need to be approved and there will be a chain of transactions to contend with. If this is the case, then it usually takes 4-6 weeks to exchange contracts and then another 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion. This makes the process a total of 6-10 weeks from start to finish. We understand the pressured timescales involved in property transactions and we do all we can to progress the transaction as quickly as possible.

How soon do I need to pay any money?

If you are buying a property, your property lawyer will usually ask you for approximately £350 at the beginning to cover the search fees that will be paid out on your behalf. The balance of the price and the property lawyer’s cost, as well as any additional charges, will be payable shortly before completion of the property transaction. If you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price then you may be required to pay prior to the exchange of contracts.

If you are selling you will be asked for a £50 upfront payment to cover disbursements such as land registry documents. The costs and agent fees will be paid out from the sale proceeds on completion before any balance is sent to you.

Do I need a survey?

If you are obtaining a mortgage, a valuer will inspect the property on behalf of the lender. Although his report should give you an indication as to whether he thinks the property is worth the amount that you have asked to borrow, it will probably not be a reliable source if things went wrong. For an additional fee, you will usually be offered the option to arrange for the same valuer to carry out a more detailed ‘Home Buyers Report’. This can be relied on if, at some later date, you discover a problem not mentioned in the report that you wish to take up with the valuer.

If the property is quite old and you are particularly concerned with its condition, you can always obtain a full structural report that is much more detailed.

There is a golden rule when it comes to this, ‘buyer beware’ so, provided you have not been misled, you will be the one liable for any problems you discover after the exchange of contracts.

How much deposit will I need?

It is normal for a deposit to be paid on exchange of contracts. If you are buying and selling, we can usually use your buyers deposit in connection with your purchase so you will not have to find anything. If you are just buying, the amount of the deposit will usually depend upon the size of your mortgage (if any). You will usually need to pay 10% deposit however if you are unable to do so we will ask your seller whether they will accept a reduced deposit.

Can I exchange contracts before I receive my mortgage offer?

If for any reason the mortgage offer is declined or delayed or it contains any conditions that you cannot comply with, the money may not be available when required so it would be extremely dangerous to exchange contracts without it and any competent property lawyer would strongly advise you not to do so.

When do I need to arrange buildings insurance?

Unless the building insurance is being arranged by your lender or it is a leasehold property and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder, you must arrange buildings insurance from exchange of contracts as the property will be at your risk from that time. The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building the property if it burns to the ground which is not necessarily the same as the current market value. If you had a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage, your surveyor or the lender's valuer will usually have suggested a minimum amount of cover in their report.

What happens with the keys?

These are usually left with the estate agents (if any) and the buyer collects them once the money has been paid over on the day of completion. If there are no estate agents (or this is not convenient), the seller will hand them directly to the buyer. Either way, it is important that arrangements are made in advance to prevent the possibility of the buyer having to wait outside with the removal van! Although your property lawyer will always try to ensure that everything is finalised as early as possible on the day of completion - and usually this is dealt with by midday - there can sometimes be a delay if, for example there is a particularly long chain. If this happens, please don't panic or become upset because your property lawyer will invariably resolve the problem by early afternoon - if not sooner!

What happens if I have a complaint?

Specialist Property Lawyers is committed to providing high level advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you receive please contact Simon West at: simon.west@specialistpropertylawyers.co.uk or by post to our office: 75-79 Park Street, Camberley, Surrey GU15 3PE.

What happens next…
1 Once we have received your written complaint, we will record it on a central folder for compliance purposes and Simon West will write to you within seven days to explain how your complaint will be investigated. You will be told the latest date by which a complete answer will be given to your complaint (this will be no more than 28 days after we received your complaint). If you have made the complaint verbally – either at a meeting or on the telephone – we will set out in our full response our understanding of the nature of your complaint.

2 The assessment of the complaint will be based on a sufficient and fair investigation. We will explain in writing our findings and, where the complaint is upheld, will offer remedial action or redress. This will be actioned promptly.

3 If you are dissatisfied with any aspect of the handling of your complaint, please contact Jayne Brady at: jayne.brady@specialistpropertylawyers.co.uk to request a separate review of your complaint. You will be told about the conclusion of this review within 28 days.

4 If, after following the review process you remain dissatisfied with any aspect of our handling of your complaint, you may directly contact the Legal Ombudsman to ask them to consider the complaint further:
Tel no: 0300 555 0333
Email: enquiries@legalombudsman.org.uk
Website: http://www.legalombudsman.org.uk
Legal Ombudsman, PO Box 6806, Wolverhampton, WV1 9WJ

5 Unless it agrees there are good reasons not to do so, the Legal Ombudsman will expect you to allow us to consider and respond to your complaint in accordance with the procedure set out above in the first instance.

6 You can refer your complaint to the Legal Ombudsman up to six months after you have received our final written response to your complaint. You can also use the Ombudsman service if we have not resolved your complaint within eight weeks of us receiving it. A complaint can be referred to the Legal Ombudsman up to six years from the date of the act or omission or up to three years after discovering the problem. The Ombudsman deals with service-related complaints only; any conduct-related complaints will be referred to the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

7 Alternative complaints bodies, such as ProMediate (www.promediate.co.uk) and Small Claims Mediation (www.small-claims-mediation.co.uk), exist which are competent to deal with complaints about legal services should both you and our firm wish to use such as scheme. Please note, however, that we do not agree to use ProMediate or the Small Claims Mediation.

8 One of the advantages of using a Licensed Conveyancer is that you can be confident that your interests will be protected by the professions strict regulations, insurance and compensation arrangements. The effect of this is that if you should make a valid claim against us for loss arising from work for which we are legally responsible, and we are unable to meet our liability in full, you may be entitled to claim from the compensation fund administered by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

If you have any further questions please contact us, alternatively why not visit our office in Camberley, we’d be delighted to see you?