Conveyancing Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

We know you may have a lot of questions about your conveyancing. To help you out we have compiled a list of conveyancing frequently asked questions.

How long will it take to exchange and complete?

It can be difficult to give an exact timetable as when you will exchange and complete as this will depend on many different factors such as how long it takes for your mortgage offer to be issued, whether there are any issues with the title to the property, and the length of your chain (as everyone in the chain has to exchange on the same day and complete on the same day). However, it usually takes around 6 weeks from when you instruct a solicitor. If you need different timescales then let us know and we’ll always do our best to help you.

Why do I need an EPC?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is required by law when a property is marketed for sale. The EPC will give information as to the efficiency of a property and recommendations as to how to make a property more efficient. As the EPC is needed when a property is marketed it is normally arranged by your estate agent. Make sure you keep the EPC when you move, because you may be able to use it again if your move is short-term.

Why do you need identification from me?

Under the Money Laundering Regulations your Best Value Conveyancing solicitor will have to obtain details of your identity to safeguard against money laundering and mortgage fraud. This is a legal requirement.

Can the same solicitor act both for me and for my buyer/seller?

Generally, due to there being the potential for a conflict of interest to arise, the same firm of solicitors cannot act for both parties in a transaction – there are however some limited exceptions to this. If you’re interested in this then ask as we may in some circumstances be able to accommodate you.

Should I have a survey?

We would recommend that you have a survey (as well as the obligatory mortgage valuation). The mortgage valuation will be done on behalf of your mortgage lender to confirm for them that the property is worth what you are paying for it, but will not necessarily find any defects or problems with the property. A Homebuyer Report or Structural Survey will go into greater detail. You should instruct a surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors. Ask us if you need more information.

Will I need to arrange to repay my mortgage when I sell my house?

Your Best Value Conveyancing solicitor will arrange for your mortgage to be repaid from the proceeds of sale on completion and will obtain a redemption statement (the amount required to pay off your mortgage) from your mortgage lender. Your solicitor will (unless you instruct them otherwise) pay your estate agents fees and our fees from the proceeds of sale and then send you any balance due to you.

Who is responsible for insuring the property?

Under the terms of the sale contract the buyer is responsible for insuring the property from exchange of contracts, and if you are having a mortgage your mortgage lender will make it a condition of your mortgage offer to have insurance from exchange of contracts. You need to have this in place before exchange.

I am buying a leasehold property – what does this mean?

A leasehold property is a property which is subject to a lease. A lease is an agreement to use a property for a period of time without owning it, for example for 99 years. Flats are usually leasehold and shared ownership properties will also be leasehold. The lease will contain various agreements between you as the lessee and the landlord as the lessor. Your Best Value Conveyancing solicitor will explain to you what these are. Under a lease, ground rent is paid (often a nominal amount) and a service charge will be paid to cover the cost the lessor is put to in complying with their requirements under the lease such as insuring the property and maintaining any shared areas.

I am buying a property with my partner – we are not married – what can we do to safeguard the money we are both investing in the property?

Where more than one person owns a property together they can choose to own the property as joint tenants or tenants in common. As joint tenants there is no distinct share in the property and if one party were to die their share would pass to the survivor. If you were to own the property as tenants in common you could specify what share each person owns (for example 50% each). If one of you is investing more money into the property than the other they could protect their share by owning a greater percentage of the property – this would be documented in a Declaration of Trust which we can draft for you. Ask us for more information.

When will I get the keys and be able to move into the property?

Generally you will not be able to get the keys until the purchase has completed. However if the seller agrees you may be able to have access to the property between exchange and completion if you wish to decorate or similar.

What is the difference between exchange and completion?

Exchange of contracts takes place once all parties in the chain are ready to exchange and the completion date has been agreed by all parties. When contracts are exchanged there is then a binding agreement for you to buy/sell the property and the completion date is fixed. Following exchange of contracts no-one can pull out of the transaction and the completion date is fixed. Completion is when the money is paid for the property and the ownership of the property changes. On the day of completion the buyer will get the keys to the property and be able to move in.

When should I book my removal van?

As the completion date (moving day) is not guaranteed until contracts have been exchanged, we would recommend that you do not book your removals until this has taken place. If your situation might be different, for example with exchange and completion taking place on the same day, speak to us and we’ll advise you on the best course of action.

What happens to the deeds to my house?

Following the completion of your purchase we will arrange to register your ownership at the Land Registry. Once that has been confirmed to your Best Value Conveyancing solicitor by the Land Registry they will send the deeds to you – as the title to the property and any relevant deeds affecting the property are electronically stored at the Land Registry if they should be lost or destroyed copies can be obtained from the Land Registry.

Can I use Best Value Conveyancing if I’m not buying or selling a house, for example if I want to sell a shop or buy a piece of land?

Generally, Best Value Conveyancing is not for that kind of transaction. Unless the matter relates exclusively to residential property it will be commercial or agricultural property, which involves significantly more legal work. We’d be delighted to offer you a quote for this service, so please get in touch on 0800 038 7007.

If you have any conveyancing frequently asked questions which we haven’t covered, about any aspect of conveyancing, a member of the Best Value Conveyancing team will be pleased to advise you. Call 0800 038 7007 for more information.