Q. What is Conveyancing?
A. Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring ownership of a property or land. For example, this would be required when you buy or sell a property or remortgage.
Q. I am a first time buyer looking to buy a house with my partner. I have been told that as I am a first time buyer there will be no stamp duty payable on any property I buy. Is this true?
A. The stamp duty land tax relief for first time buyers ended on 24th March 2012. Therefore stamp duty will be payable in every purchase of a property for more than £125,000. The current stamp duty thresholds are:
|Residential land or property SDLT rates and thresholds
||Purchase price/lease premium or transfer value SDLT rate|
Up to £125,000
Over £125,000 to £250,000
Over £250,000 to £500,000
Over £500,000 to £1 million
Over £1 million to £2 million
Over £2 million from 22 March 2012*
Over £2 million (purchased by certain persons including corporate bodies) from 21 March 2012
* £2 million threshold for wholly residential property From 22 March 2012 SDLT on residential properties over £2 million is charged at 7 per cent. It does not apply to non-residential or mixed use properties.
Higher rate for corporate bodies From 21 March 2012 SDLT is charged at 15 per cent on interests in residential dwellings costing more than £2 million purchased by certain non-natural persons. This broadly includes bodies corporate, for example companies, collective investment schemes and all partnerships with one or more members who are either a body corporate or a collective investment scheme. There are exclusions for companies acting in their capacity as trustees for a settlement and property developers who meet certain conditions. Source: HM Revenue & Customs 06/2012.
Q. I’m a first time buyer and have a mortgage agreed in principle. The mortgage lender has mentioned that I will need to decide what type of survey I want so they can instruct their experts to assess the property. I’ve had an offer accepted on a mid terraced Victorian property, the vendor has kept it in really good condition and it looks like there are no major problems. What are my options and is there more than one type of survey I can get?
A. The main reason for a survey is so you and the lender can find out whether the property is actually worth the amount you have agreed to pay for it. There are 3 main types of surveys available and they vary greatly in price.
- Option 1: The simplest and cheapest option is to rely on the valuation from the lender. The lender will send out one of their own valuers to put a value on the property so they can ensure the property is good security for the loan. Lenders will provide a copy of this report but there is not much information to assist you. The report will not tell you whether you have offered too much.
- Option 2: The middle option is to have a home buyers report. The lender’s valuer will normally carry out this report at the same time. This survey is not as comprehensive as a full structural survey but will highlight parts of the property that need further investigation. Invariably, the surveyor will not inspect unexposed or inaccessible areas of the property, for instance, the roof or below the floorboards.
- Option 3: The most expensive option is the full structural survey. This will be carried out by a qualified structural surveyor and will provide a detailed report on the structural condition of the building. This type of report is advisable if the property is of a high value; the property is more than 100 years old; the property has been completely renovated or you intend to do so and if the property is not a conventional brick or mortar construction
When choosing between the different types of survey, you need to remember that once you have bought the property you will be responsible for any repairs or major work that needs to be done. If you go for a more detailed report from the outset this will hopefully enable you to make a more informed decision on whether the property is worth the asking price and will put you in a stronger negotiating position in relation to price. If you need help making a choice then speak to your Conveyancer.
Q. I want to put my house on the market. Do I still need a Home Information Pack? If not, is there anything I need to provide before I can sell my property?
A. Home Information Packs (HIP) were suspended on 21 May 2010. This means that homes put on the market on or after that date will no longer need a HIP. However, as a seller you are under an obligation to provide an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). You must have instructed an accredited Energy Assessor to carry out an energy performance assessment before marketing can start. The EPC should be provided to potential buyers at the earliest opportunity. Failure to comply with this can result in penalties by Trading Standards Officers.
Q. I am about to put my house on the market and am unsure if I should tell potential buyers about some problems I have had with my neighbours in the past
A. Problems with neighbours are always an unpleasant occurrence and may well affect the sale of your property. If you have a serious dispute and do not disclose this to a buyer then you may find yourself being sued in the future.
A seller will be required to complete a Sellers Property Information form, which will ask for information about the property. This is where any reported neighbour disputes should be disclosed. Problems with neighbours can include disputes over land, shared driveways, hedge height and boundary lines.
Problems such as loud music or a barking dog need not always be mentioned as they are very subjective. For example, you may be more sensitive to the music than someone else. A good deciding factor as to whether the problem is one you should disclose is whether you have made an official complaint to the local council or police force. If you have lodged an official complaint then if this is not disclosed and the new owners decide to sue you it may be hard to defend a claim as the complaint shows you were aware there was an issue before you sold.
Before deciding whether to disclose any problem to a potential buyer speak to your Conveyancer for guidance as disclosing a problem will likely affect the value of the property.
Before making a formal complaint about a neighbour it is worth considering the effect this could have if you intend to sell in the near future!
Q. How long will the whole process of buying a property take?
A. The Conveyancing process takes on average six to eight weeks. This can vary however depending on the length of the ‘chain’ of connected transactions and the complexity of the transaction.
The Conveyancing process comprises of three stages, and there are tasks to be carried out at each:
- Exchange of Contracts
Q. I am looking to buy a property with my partner, but I have been told that I need to be careful when choosing between different types of ownership. What are the different ways in which my partner and I can own our home and what should we be wary of?
A. There are two ways in which the property can be held, either as ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’. It is extremely important to consider the different options available to co-own a property.
When you co-own a property as joint tenants, each co-owner owns the whole of the property and neither owner has a specific or identifiable share. Under a tenancy in common, each co-owner owns a specific share in the property. Please follow the links below and ensure that your specific situation is discussed in detail with your conveyancer before proceeding with your purchase.
Tenants in common