Conveyancing is the term for transferring ownership of property from one person to another. This can be much more complex than other types of transactions as your lawyer will have to carry out a number of checks in relation to the property and the land it is on.
For example, does anyone have right of access or rights of way through the land? Does the owner of the property have existing obligations to adhere to, such as a lease or chancel repair liabilities? What restrictions does the lease place on the property owner? The property may be in a conservation area or have tree preservation orders which would restrict what you can do with the land.
A specialist conveyancer will check all these things and many more to ensure that you are fully aware of the legal implications of buying a property and protect you from any nasty surprises later on.
There are two methods by which property can be jointly owned and these differ in relation to what happens on the death of one of the co-owners.
1. Joint Tenancy – the property automatically passes to the survivor regardless of who is entitled to the deceased’s property under the terms of the Will or intestacy.
2. Tenancy in Common – where each co-owner has a share in the property which will pass according to his or her Will or intestacy.
Commonly most married couples choose the first option. If you choose the second option we recommend that the respective interest which you will each hold in the property is acknowledged in a Declaration of Trust.
If either party has children, who are not of their present spouse/partner, then this needs to be discussed more fully as the choice made above may affect inheritance by your children on your death.
When a married couple is purchasing property it can be more tax efficient to hold the property as Tenants in Common as this enables you to take advantage of tax relief’s on your death (these may not be available if you hold the property as Joint Tenants). In the course of making a will and carrying out a tax planning exercise in the future you may therefore be advised to change your joint ownership to Tenants in Common.
If the property is empty and the buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can all be completed in a few days but this is very unusual.
However, it is more likely that a mortgage will be required and there will be a chain of transactions and if that is the case it will usually take 4-6 weeks to exchange contracts and then another 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion making a total of 6-10 weeks from start to finish.
We will do everything we can to progress your transaction as quickly as possible but we cannot offer any guarantee about how long it will take and you should not believe anyone else that does!
What happens on the completion day?
Completion takes place about 10 days after contracts are exchanged and must be on a weekday. This is because the banks do not transfer money at weekends. On the day of completion, we send the money to the Seller’s lawyer. Once this has been received you can move into the property and the Seller must move out. Most sellers have packed up and moved out by about mid day, but sometimes it takes them longer and tolerance is needed by everyone on such a busy day. If there are any substantial delays however, you should let us know.
Sometimes the vendor offers the property to more than one purchase usually on the basis that the first one to exchange contracts gets the property. The vendor via their property lawyer is obliged to inform the parties concerned if contracts have gone out to more than one purchaser. If you lose out on a contract race you cannot claim your lost expenses from the vendor.