“I’m so pleased with the job you did for me – you’ve been nothing but thorough, measured and meticulous throughout, and a real point of calm, even when everything else was spinning horribly. Thank you, Mark!” – Ms S.D Feb 2017
If you are considering buying or selling a house or flat, SP Law Solicitors can guide you through the conveyancing process.
We have a team of highly experienced property lawyers that can assist you with the following:-
- Selling a house/flat
- Buying a house/flat
- Re-mortgaging a house/flat
- Transfers of Equity
- Preparation of Energy Performance Certificates (EPC’s)
- Preparation of Auction Packs
- Lease extensions
SP Law was the first firm in Northamptonshire to achieve the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Standard (CQS) for excellence in home buying. We have also achieved the CQS accreditation every year since its inception.
We are well practised at helping everybody from first time buyers to more seasoned property investors to navigate the conveyancing process.
SP Law are also experienced in dealing with ‘Remortgages’ & ‘Transfers of Equity’ (i.e. transferring a share in a property to another person). A transfer of equity may arise where a couple split and one person is to be removed from the property deeds and mortgage.
We will charge a fixed basic fee plus VAT and disbursements (i.e. expenses payable to others such as stamp duty and land registry fees). Our full charges will be notified to you at the beginning of the transaction in a clear and open way.
Some transactions may attract stamp duty. Please click here for the HM Revenue & Customs Stamp Duty Calculator (http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/sdlt/calculate/calculators.htm).
If the sale or purchase falls through, we will charge a percentage of our quoted fee depending upon how far the transaction has progressed. For example, no more than 75% of our fee will be charged for a case which discontinues prior to ‘exchange of contracts’ (see below for explanation).
Alternatively, for peace of mind, you may choose to take our ‘No Sale No Fee’ Option. An additional fee of either £75 or £125 plus VAT is payable upfront but if the sale or purchase falls through even at the final stage, you will be charged no more for legal fees than the £75 or £125 plus VAT which you have already paid (you would still be liable for any disbursements which had already been incurred).
Please call us on 01604 638 905 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and we shall be pleased to provide you with a quote.
There is no denying that the house sale/purchase conveyancing process can be an incredibly stressful time. We cannot promise to always eliminate that completely but we will do our utmost to reduce it so far as possible.
We have invested in a bespoke case management system to make the home buying and selling process more efficient.
The file handler will provide you with a direct dial telephone number and an email address to improve the flow of information.
Our offices are centrally located and we have free parking.
Please visit the testimonials section of our website for feedback from our previous clients.
What is involved in a Sale?
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
The first step is to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate or ‘EPC’. This is now usually arranged by your estate agent but we can assist with this if required.
EPCs are needed whenever a property is:
You must order an EPC for potential buyers and tenants before you market your property to sell or rent.
An EPC contains:
- information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs
- recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money
An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and it is valid for 10 years.
For more information, visit the Government website:-
Fittings and Contents
You will need to give some thought to what items you wish to take with you and what you will leave behind. We will provide you with a simple questionnaire to complete.
Unless specified to the contrary, fittings are included in the sale price and must be left e.g. central heating system, doors, fitted kitchen units and flowers/plants in the garden.
Contents remain the Seller’s property, unless otherwise agreed and can be taken e.g. furniture, carpets, curtains, curtain rails, TV aerial.
Once an offer has been accepted, we will then send the following documents to the Buyer’s Solicitors:-
- Draft Contract (prepared by us)
- Title Deeds (obtained by us from HM Land Registry)
- EPC (usually supplied by you or the estate agent)
- Property Information Form (completed by you)
- Fittings and Contents Form (completed by you)
- Copies of any Guarantees, Planning Documents etc (provided by you)
Once the Contract has been approved by the Buyer’s Solicitors, you will be asked to sign the same in readiness for an ‘Exchange of Contracts’. At this stage you may also be required to reply to any queries or ‘Enquiries’ that possibly have been raised by the Buyer’s Solicitors.
If you have a mortgage, we write to your Mortgage Lender to request a repayment figure or ‘Redemption Statement’ which will be sent to you for approval.
You will also need to sign a ‘Transfer Deed’, which is sent to HM Land Registry at the end of the transaction to change the names on the deeds.
Contracts are exchanged once all legal formalities have been dealt with and all parties in the chain are ready.
Upon exchange of contracts, the seller is committed to sell the property and the buyer is committed to purchase it. The buyer will usually pay a 10% deposit at this stage. It is now too late for the buyer or seller to change their mind and if they were to do so and fail to complete the sale, the defaulting party would be in breach of contract and be liable to pay compensation. If the buyer fails to complete, the seller is entitled keep to the deposit.
At exchange of contracts all parties agree to ‘Complete’ on a specific date and this is then entered into the contract as the ‘Completion Date’. This is the date when keys are handed over and the new owner moves in.
If you intend to use a professional removal company, then it is wise to check their availability before exchange of contracts. Remember Fridays are very popular and can sometimes get booked up several weeks in advance, particularly the Friday before a bank holiday.
You should also arrange for the gas, electricity and telephone meters to be read up to the date of completion, but please do not have these services disconnected without first advising your Buyer.
What is involved in a Purchase?
If you require a mortgage, then you should seek independent financial advice at the very outset.
When you are purchasing a property, whether old or new, freehold or leasehold, we advise you to have a full independent ‘Survey’ carried out prior to exchange of contracts.
A home is the most expensive purchase most people ever make and a Survey is therefore strongly recommended. A Survey is an in-depth visual inspection of the property. The Survey report provides an account of the property’s condition and highlights any problems.
There are different types of survey. For further information please visit the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyor’s website:-
Your mortgage lender will carry out a basic Survey for valuation purposes but this will not usually be sufficient for the proper protection of a Buyer. You may be able to instruct the lender’s surveyor to carry out a fuller Survey on your behalf which may be quicker and cheaper than arranging your own.
You might also consider having the central heating and electrical systems inspected. A Seller is not necessarily required to reveal all they know about the condition of the property and indeed may well be unaware of the existence of problems, which may only be revealed by the inspection of a Surveyor.
A Survey is particularly important where the property is a leasehold flat or maisonette as you are likely to be responsible for a proportion of the repairs and upkeep of the common and structural parts of the building by way of ‘Service Charges’.
Fittings and Contents
You will need to check carefully what fittings and contents the seller intends to leave and what they wish to take. You can negotiate to purchase additional items but should ideally do so before exchange of contracts.
You should make an inventory of all items to be included in the sale – you should not rely on the Estate Agent’s Particulars. You will be required to instruct us carefully, as unless we are notified specifically we will be unable to make sufficient provision in the contract.
When purchasing freehold property, comprehensive ‘Buildings Insurance’ must be put in place from exchange of contracts. Where a mortgage is involved this may be arranged by your lender. It is essential that the property is insured at all times for its full reinstatement value. If you are arranging your own buildings insurance the requirements of the mortgage lender must be taken into account otherwise they will not release the mortgage funds.
You should remember that if a property is not occupied, then after the first 30 days the building will no longer be insured against damage caused by water or oil leaking from any fixed water or heating installation or any domestic appliance. Also, it will not be covered for malicious damage, theft or attempted theft or damage to the fixed domestic water or heating installation. This is particularly important to remember when you are purchasing a property that has been vacant for some time.
Please also note that buildings insurance is not the same as contents insurance, which will need to be dealt with separately.
The Seller’s Solicitors will forward the following documents to SP Law:-
- Title Deeds
- Property Information Form
- Fittings and Contents Form
- Copies of any available Guarantees, Planning Documents etc.
SP Law will check the ‘Title’ (i.e. the legal background) of the property and raise any queries or ‘Enquiries’ with the Seller’s Solicitors as necessary. At this point ‘Searches’ (see below) will be carried out on your behalf. Once the ‘Replies to Enquiries’, searches and mortgage offer are received by us, we will report to you on our findings and arrange for you to sign all the necessary documents (Contract, Transfer Deed, Mortgage Deed etc).
If you are buying together with another person, you will need to decide whether to hold the beneficial interest in the property as ‘Joint Tenants’ or ‘Tenants in Common’ (please see below ‘Joint Ownership & Wills’).
Once all legal formalities have been met, the chain are ready and you are happy to proceed, you will be required to pay your ‘Deposit’ (see below). Contracts are then Exchanged (as above) and the agreed Completion Date is inserted into the contract.
At this stage both parties are legally bound and so it is vital that you are satisfied with all preliminary matters before this occurs. We would also advise you to carry out a pre-exchange inspection of the property to check that the property has not deteriorated or been damaged since your first visit.
As soon as we are in a position to do so, we shall send a ‘Completion Statement’ to you showing the balance required to complete the transaction (taking into account the purchase price, any apportionments, the net mortgage advance, and our costs and disbursements).
On the Completion Date, the purchase price is paid to the Seller’s Solicitors. This is the day when you are handed over the keys to the property and take on responsibility thereof. Your mortgage will also run from this date.
Various ‘Searches’ are carried out on a property by SP Law on your behalf. Searches are requests for information relating to the property from e.g. the Council or Water Authority.
A ‘Local Authority Search’ will reveal e.g. if any planning and building regulations decisions have been granted, refused or are pending; whether the road is private or adopted; if any major road/rail/traffic schemes are planned in the area.
A ‘Water & Drainage Search’ will show e.g. if the property is connected to mains water and the foul and surface water sewer; if any sewers run across the land and where they are located (this can restrict your ability to build an extension).
An ‘Environmental Search’ will confirm if the property is within an area prone to natural risks such as flooding, subsidence or radon; if the property is built on or is close to contaminated land (this may make it difficult to get a mortgage or resell).
The suite of searches that SP Law carries out on your behalf includes a ‘Chancel Indemnity Policy’ protecting you and any mortgage lender against any potential liability to contribute to parish church repairs.
Alternatively, search insurance can be purchased to protect you against the risk of not having undertaken searches.
We will advise you which Searches are necessary for your transaction, and the costs thereof.
Deposit on Exchange
You will be required to pay a deposit upon exchange of contracts. Usually 10% of the purchase price is required, but sometimes it is possible to negotiate a lesser amount.
However even if the standard requirement to pay a deposit of 10% is varied by agreement, the principle remains that the Seller is always entitled to receive 10% of the purchase price and certainly if there is a breach of contract that is the amount which they could claim from the Buyer.
If you are selling another property simultaneously we will endeavour to arrange for the deposit on your purchase to be funded out of the deposit which will be paid to you on your sale.
Joint Ownership and Wills
When you exchange contracts for the purchase of your property, you need to consider how, as co-owners, you are to hold the beneficial interest in the property. There are two methods of co-ownership: either you hold the property as ‘Joint Tenants’ or as ‘Tenants in Common’. The effect of the alternatives is very different.
As Joint Tenants, on the death of one of the co-owners, the property automatically becomes owned outright by the survivor who can therefore sell the property without any restriction. This will override any provision made in your ‘Will’ concerning the property.
If, however, you are Tenants in Common, on the first death the share in the property that belongs to the deceased will be dealt with in accordance with that person’s will, or if there is no will, by the statutory rules relating to intestacy.
A tenancy in common therefore gives each of you the opportunity to decide what you wish to happen to your share of the property on your death – you can of course specify that it should go to the survivor, if you wish. Equally importantly, it also provides an opportunity to mitigate any inheritance tax liability which may arise on your deaths.
To take advantage of these possibilities (choice and inheritance tax planning) it is essential that you have properly drafted Wills and if you would like to consider this further please let us know and we will arrange for someone to contact you.
From the point of view of cost, there is no appreciable difference in whichever method of co-ownership you select but it is important for you to consider the choice carefully.
Deed of Trust
Where more than one person is purchasing the property then you may wish to give thought to protecting your individual interests or shares in the property by means of a ‘Declaration of Trust’ or similar device. This may be particularly important if you are contributing towards the purchase of the property in unequal shares. If you require further advice please let us know.
Different types of Ownership
The majority of houses in the UK are ‘Freehold’. This means that the owner of the freehold (or freeholder) owns both the property and the land on which the property stands outright. The freeholder is responsible for the maintenance and repair of the property.
Practically all flats in the UK are sold on a ‘Leasehold’ basis, whether house conversions, new build flats or purpose-built blocks from the 1950s. Leasehold means that you own the property for a set number of years, as specified in the lease. This can be anything between 99 to 999 years. The flat can still be bought and sold within that period.
The actual owner of the building is the person or company who owns the freehold. The property then reverts to the owner once the length of time allocated in the lease runs out.
It may be possible to extend the lease term in certain circumstances, either with the landlord’s consent or by application to the Court or Tribunal. For further information, please visit the Leasehold Advisory Service website:-
As a leaseholder you will have to pay the owner of the freehold an annual ‘Ground Rent’. This is in effect a rent in return for allowing the property to stand on the freeholder’s land. We will find out exactly how much this will be and whether it is fixed or is subject to review after a certain period.
The freeholder is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the building. For this service they will expect you to pay additional ‘Service Charges’ for which they should arrange buildings insurance, cleaning and general maintenance. The cost of work, such as redecoration of communal areas or roof repairs will also usually be split between the leaseholders living in the building. We will check if any major expenditure is anticipated.
‘Shared Ownership’ schemes are usually provided through housing associations. You buy a share of your home (between 25% and 75% of the home’s value) and pay rent on the remaining share.
You’ll need to take out a mortgage to pay for your share of the home’s purchase price.
Shared ownership properties are always leasehold.
You can buy more shares in your home any time after you become the owner. This is known as ‘Staircasing’.
The cost of your new share will depend on how much your home is worth when you want to buy the share. If property prices in your area have gone up, you’ll pay more than for your first share. If your home has dropped in value, your new share will be cheaper.
The housing association will get the property valued and let you know the cost of your new share. You’ll have to pay the valuer’s fee.
If you own 100% of your home, you can sell it yourself. When you put it up for sale, the housing association has the right to buy the property back first. This is known as ‘First Refusal’ and the housing association has this right for 21 years after you fully own the home.
If you own a share of your home, the housing association has the right to find a buyer for it.
To buy a home through a shared ownership scheme contact the ‘Help to Buy agent’ in the area where you want to live:-
There are also other types of affordable home ownership schemes available. For further information, please visit the Government website:-
Information correct at 18.06.2014
For more information or to obtain a quotation, please contact Mr. Mark Normansell on 01604 638905 or email your enquiry to email@example.com, or fill in our Enquiry Form and a member of our team will be in touch.