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Frequently asked questions

Whether you are buying or selling a property, transferring equity, remortgaging, or looking into shared ownership, there are often common questions that every solicitor and conveyancer encounters on a regular basis. The following is a list of some common conveyancing questions with our answers that we hope will also provide some sensible advice.

How long will it take to sell or buy our house?

Once you have received an offer on your property that you accept, the process of buying or selling a property is relatively quick. Delays in the process can always occur for a number of reasons. Our guide is to allow 6 to 8 weeks until exchange and completion occur.

What delays can occur?

If your purchase or sale is part of a large number of purchases or sales, you form part of what is known as a "chain" (to understand what a "chain" is see the relevant question below). A chain can be small or large depending on the number of property transactions involved in the chain. The effect of problems higher or lower in the chain can sometimes have significant impact on all of the other sales and purchases.

Another reason for delays can be as a result of complications with the legalities of a transaction. So, for instance, some boundaries may be in dispute or some wording in the deeds may impose some limitations. It is never known at the very beginning whether or not complications exist, but whenever we come across these we always deal with them as promptly as possible to avoid delays.

What happens if I pull out of a house purchase or sale?

You can pull out at anytime during the transaction up until the contracts are exchanged at which point legal ownership is transferred to you if you are buying, or to the other party if you are selling. Your only liability up until that point will be for your own costs.

What happens if the other party pulls out?

Although this can be disappointing, there is very little that can be done if this happens to you. No one is legally committed to buying or selling a home until contracts have been exchanged. It is not unknown for people to pull out of a transaction even when people are ready and waiting to effect an exchange.

Unfortunately, you are not entitled to any form of reimbursement for money that you may have spent (e.g. on a local search, solicitors costs or survey report) or entitled to any compensation in respect of the inconvenience, stress and other losses that you may have suffered. It is therefore advisable that you leave as many arrangements as possible until after contracts have been exchanged to mitigate any costs.

Booking removal vans, instructing tradesmen to carry out property work and arranging time of work should all be left until after exchange wherever possible.

Is a deposit required?

The terms of the contract will usually provide for the payment of a deposit to the seller on exchange of contracts. The deposit is held by the seller's solicitor, or may have been used as the deposit on the sellers related purchase. Either way the seller does not have access to this money personally unless this has been agreed.

Ideally, a buyer should pay a 10% deposit, where they are obtaining a mortgage advance for 90% or less towards the purchase price. However as people sometimes borrow more than 90% from their lender it is usual for the deposit to be reduced accordingly, but this will still need to be agreed by the sellers.

If you are simultaneously selling and buying it is usual for whatever deposit is received from your buyer to be forwarded to your seller's solicitor. It is rare (but not unheard of) for a seller to ask for deposit monies in addition to this. You may therefore be asked for additional funds ready for exchange of contracts if there is a large difference between the deposit being received and that being paid.

What is a "chain"?

A chain is fairly straight-forward to understand if you think about a number of property purchases as the links of a chain. The owner of property A decides to buy property B. The owners of property B look around on the market and decide to buy property C. The owners of property C also look around and make an offer on property D which is accepted. The owners of property D decide they are not going to buy anything just yet and so they are at the end of the chain. What we have is a chain of transactions starting with property A and moving through each transaction to property D. As each transaction is reliant on other ones, a dependency is created so that the owners of property C cannot buy property D until they have exchanged and completed with the owners of property B - and this is true of everyone in the chain. So a hold up on one transaction, can hold up the whole chain. So, for instance, the owners of property A have a problem buying property B, it means that no-one "higher" up the chain cannot move forward. A transaction in a chain can be said to be "higher" up the chain if it relies on you, and "lower" down the chain if you rely on it.

Can we exchange contracts and complete on the same day?

Yes, this is perfectly possible provided there is sufficient notice to do so.

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Bradshaws Property Lawyers is authorized and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Registered Offices: 1 Coronation Road Menai Bridge Anglesey LL59 5BD. Registered Practice Numbers 505630 and 511324