Buying a House Part 4.

by Mark Johnston

Every house purchase involves a number of legal aspects and conveyance is the legal process of transferring the ownership of a property.

Ideally buyers should start looking for a conveyance solicitor at the start of the house buying journey.

One of the best ways to find a decent solicitor is to get recommendations. Before making a choice as to who will do the work buyers should find out the probable costs, they should:

–          check the figure quoted is a fixed fee

–          check what the figure includes (stamp duty etc)

–          get a detailed breakdown of the costs

–          find out if any charges are made if the sale falls through

There can be several areas where buyers may get caught in the buying process and conveyance is one of the most expensive mistakes to be made, so the following are key tips to follow to prevent this:

–          never hire on a ‘per hour’ basis

–          make sure all quotes are all inclusive and include VAT

–          try to use a ‘no completion, no fee’ solicitor

The average cost of conveyance is around £600 to £1000, but this can vary based on the property type and the complexity of the situation. There may also be extra charges such as a local, environmental and water search which is usually around £250 to £300.

While price is an important factor to consider it does not always pay to go for the cheapest.

Once a conveyance firm has been appointed and asked to proceed it is important to keep in regular contact to ensure everything continues to progress and run smoothly.

Before any contracts can be signed the solicitor must make sure that there are no problems with the ownership of the property, rights of way, and access or future developments in the area that might affect the property at a later stage.

The solicitor makes enquires and searches as follows:

Local searches:

These are made to the local authority about matters which may affect the property, such as if there is a compulsory purchase order on the property and it also includes questions about proposed changes or developments that may affect the property, such as new roads being built. During the local search, the local land charges register is also checked.

Enquiries made to the seller by the solicitor:

These are a set of standard questions about the property, its boundaries, any neighbour disputes and any fixtures or fittings that are to remaining the property.

Another point to add at this stage is if a buyer is purchasing a property with someone else, they should get legal advice on the best type of ownership.

Ownership of a property can be divided in two ways:

Beneficial joint tenants:

This means the property belongs to both owners jointly. Therefore the property can not be sold or a  re-mortgaged can not be taken out without the agreement of both owners. If one owner dies their interest in the property passes automatically to the other owner.

Tenants in common:

This means that the property still belongs to both owners jointly, but that they also own a specific share of its value and it is up to them to decide how much each share will be. If one of the owners dies in this case they can leave their share of the property to whoever they wish in a will.

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