Buyers and Sellers Conveyancing Process

Please note that this News item is not maintained, and reflects the law as at the date of publication or update.

Sarah is here to help house buyers and sellers get to grips with the conveyancing process. Here she highlights how you can take control of your property transaction…and provides a useful update on the SDLT rates

I have secured a sale on my house. How long will the conveyancing process take?

Unfortunately, it is very difficult to predict how long a conveyancing transaction will take. It can be anywhere from as little as six weeks to six months or even more depending on the problem causing the delay. With recent interest rate changes, lenders are taking a little longer to process mortgage applications but of course this is only one factor we must consider in a conveyancing transaction.

Some aspects can be speeded up, whilst others cannot. The key to keeping the process moving is to concentrate on the aspects within your control. This should help expedite the transaction and make it a lot less stressful. Here are some things to bear in mind:

Start the legal process as soon as possible

If you’re selling, instruct a solicitor when you first market your property, so they can be collating all the necessary background information. This will avoid delays down the line.

It is preferable to use a local solicitor who will work hand-in-hand with your estate agent, to ensure a seamless transaction when a sale has been agreed.

Don’t put off the paperwork

There are lots of forms to complete when you instruct a solicitor. These include a Property Information Form (TA6), Fittings and Contents Form (TA10) and a Leasehold Information Form (TA7), if you are selling a leasehold property. Your solicitor will also ask you to complete an instruction form and will want to check your identification.

It is important this information is supplied as quickly as possible, so that when the sale of your property is agreed, your solicitor can move quickly and issue contract papers to the buyer’s solicitor. If this is done at the first stage of the transaction, it will speed up the process, as the buyer’s solicitor needs to see the contract and initial paperwork to progress the purchase.

The Property Information Forms will refer to additional documentation that you need to provide to your solicitor. Ensure as much as possible that you have this information in place at the outset. For example, planning permissions or building regulations approvals for any work carried out on your house, certificates for new items you have installed and copies of any agreements you have with neighbours that affect your property.

An agreed sale does not mean the price is fixed

You need to bear in mind that it may be necessary for you or your estate agent to enter into negotiations with your buyer after the sale has been agreed.

Although rare, buyers can change their offer, or their minds, for various reasons during a transaction. Potential issues may be highlighted by a survey or other points may come to light that they were not aware of at the outset.

If you know this may be a possibility, you will go into the situation with a level head and an open mind. This should enable negotiations to run smoothly, ensuring a fair agreement is reached so the transaction can proceed to completion. A refusal to budge from your original price may cause the chain to collapse and mean the house has to go back on the market.  Negotiations on price are not something solicitors should be involved in. Our job is to transfer the legal ownership of the property and your agent will be better placed to carry out the negotiations if this becomes necessary.

Update on Stamp Duty Land Tax

The level of consideration for a house purchase at which Stamp Duty Land Tax starts being payable was recently doubled. This could save some home buyers thousands of pounds. The Government announced that SDLT would not be charged on the first £250,000 of a property purchase for people moving home. Furthermore, to help people get on to the property ladder, no stamp duty will be payable on the first £425,000 of a property worth up to £625,000 for first-time buyers. (The new threshold only applies in England and Northern Ireland, as Scotland and Wales set their own property transaction taxes).

What are the new Stamp Duty rates?

The new stamp duty rates for those buying a residential property are:

Property price              Stamp duty rate

Up to £250,000                         0%

£250,001 to £925,000              5%

£925,001 to £1.5 million           10%

£1.5 million and above             12%

While someone who previously bought a property, which was the only property they had an interest in at the point of completion, costing £250,000 would have paid £2,500 in SDLT, they will now not pay anything. Someone purchasing a £500,000 property, which is the only property they will have an interest in at the point of completion, will pay £12,500 rather than £15,000.

To find out more about the process of selling a property, and what stamp duty is payable if you are moving home, a first-time buyer or someone with an interest in more than one property, don’t hesitate to contact us on 01424 735000

If you have a question about moving home, Sarah Priestman and our dedicated Teams in all of our Gaby Hardwicke offices would love to hear from you.

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