After your initial contact with us we will give you a detailed written quotation showing our legal fees and the fees that we will need to pay out on your behalf during the course of the transaction. We will also send you a number of questionnaires which need to be completed by you as these will form an integral part of the contract package that we will send to your buyer’s solicitors. Your solicitor or conveyancer should also telephone you at this stage to introduce themselves.
How can you help us? – although the questionnaires are quite extensive, it would be very helpful if you could complete and return these to us as soon as possible.
Possible problems – any delay in returning the questionnaire documentation and quotes could cause a delay in us sending documentation out to your buyer’s solicitors and therefore slow down the process.
As soon as your file is opened we will email you details to enable you to log in to our case tracking system. Our case tracking system enables you to look at the progress of your case and documents produced by us.
How can you help us? – we believe you will benefit from keeping in touch with progress by logging in to our system which may reduce the necessity of your telephoning for updates.
Possible problems – if you have any difficulty logging in to the system, the email we send you will have a troubleshooting number for you to contact.
After you have confirmed your instructions to us and returned the questionnaires we will send out to you a request for ID information which is compulsory in all cases and the Client Care Letter which sets out further details of our service to you. Again this is a compulsory document.
How can you help us? – it is necessary for us to have appropriate ID documentation and the signed Client Care Letter on our files and it would therefore be of great help if you could return these documents to us as soon as possible.
As stated previously it is a professional rule that solicitors must have ID and Client Care information on their file and therefore the earlier you send these documents back to us the quicker we can proceed with your sale.
Possible problems – any delay in returning documentation could delay the transaction. Also in a small number of cases there may be a discrepancy between the ID information and the names on the Land Registry record of the property which may require further investigation. If there is any such problem we will contact you immediately and in nearly all cases any such problems can be resolved easily.
As you are selling a leasehold flat or maisonette we will, as part of the conveyancing process, need to send certain management, insurance and ground rent information about the flat to the buyer’s solicitors. It is essential that this information is provided direct from the freeholder/management company. We will write to the freeholder/management company direct on your behalf but we would warn you that the freeholder/management company will make a charge for this information and in some cases the charge can be several hundred pound. We have no control over this charge whatsoever and it is a charge made by your freeholder/management company and not by this firm.
How can you help us? – the information from the freeholder/management company referred to above is an essential part of the conveyancing process and sometimes it is not provided very promptly. We may, therefore, have to ask you to assist us in chasing the freeholder/management company for its provision. As we have mentioned, there will be a charge made by the freeholder/management company for this information and it would assist if you could pay this charge as soon as possible. Generally it is expected that we will collect the required money from you and send it ourselves to the freeholder/management company.
It may be that your block of flats or maisonette building is managed by a tenants’ owned company in which you own a share. If so, it will be necessary for you to provide for us a copy of your Share Certificate or other evidence of your membership of the company as this will need to be transferred to the buyer as part of the legal process.
Possible problems – in all cases your buyer’s solicitors will insist on having this up to date information regarding the service charge, insurance, etc. and a delay in the payment of the freeholder/management company’s fee can cause problems. Please also note that if your sale falls through and you have to sell the property again several months later it may be necessary for you to repeat the process and obtain another more up to date set of information from the freeholder/management company.
We will download from the Land Registry a copy of your Title Documentation in preparation for sending a contract out to your buyer’s solicitors. We will download any additional documentation required from the Land Registry and we will also check your capacity to sell the property and pass on legal title to the buyer.
If the lease on your property has less than 80 years left to run it may be necessary for the lease to be extended. We may need to give you further advice relating to your options here. (PLEASE CHECK OUR SHORT LEASE SECTION)
How can you help us? – in a small number of cases we may need additional documentation from you such as a Grant of Probate, Death Certificate or Power of Attorney. If you purchased a property before you were married and have changed your name since we may need a copy of your marriage certificate. It would be of great assistance if you could provide this documentation as soon as possible.
Possible problems – in a very small number of cases you may not be correctly registered as the owner of the property, for example if you have recently inherited the property and it may be necessary for us to obtain additional documentation to show a good title to the property. If there is any problem of this nature we will, of course, advise you as soon as it comes to light and work with you to resolve it.
In some cases you will be a part owner of the freehold as well as owning the leasehold title to your flat/maisonette. This is generally by means of either holding a share in the freehold title direct in your personal name or, more commonly, by owning a share in a tenants’ owned residents or management company that owns the freehold. If this is the case, we will need to know how you own any share in the freehold and whether the sale of the freehold share is part of the purchase price that you have negotiated.
How can you help us? – you can help us by giving clear instructions as to the circumstances surrounding your ownership of the freehold and by providing us with any necessary information and documentation such as a copy of your Share Certificate or the members register of the tenants’ owned residents company.
Possible problems – if you do not make us aware of your share in the freehold and the terms upon which it is to be transferred, this could cause delay later in the transaction and may even result in the transaction not being concluded correctly.
If you live on a large development of flats you may, prior to your sale, have received what is known as a Section 20 Notice. This is a Notice whereby your freeholder/management company gives you notice of their intention to carry out major works on the development which could result in a substantial one off payment or an increase in the service charge. If you have received such a notice it is essential that you pass this to us as soon as possible as the likelihood is that it will be shown on your buyer’s search and may cause delays later on unless it is revealed at an early stage.
How can you help us? – by giving us as much background information regarding the proposed major works as possible so we can discuss this with your buyer’s solicitors.
Possible problems – in some cases the Section 26 Notice does not specify the cost of the proposed major works and this may lead to difficult negotiations with your buyer.
If you have a mortgage registered on the property then we will write to your lender requesting they give us details of the amount required to repay the mortgage. When we receive a statement from the lender we will send to you a copy so that you can check it for accuracy. Please remember, however, that a new statement will be required when the actual date of completion is fixed because the amount required to redeem the mortgage varies on a daily basis.
How can you help us? – It is essential that you provide us with full details of the identity of your mortgagee and the correct account number. This is generally dealt with in the questionnaires that we send you at the start of the transaction.
Possible problems – sometimes lenders are very slow in providing financial information and sometimes there may be a discrepancy in the statement you receive from your own view of how much is required to redeem the mortgage. In addition, sometimes you have more than one charge registered on the property and occasionally you may have debts that have been registered against the property which will also require to be repaid before you can give proper legal title to your buyer. Again, if any of these circumstances arise we will advise you as soon as possible and work with you to resolve them quickly and efficiently.
There have been a large number of scams recently involving counterfeit solicitors’ offices being set up. We will make the appropriate check to ensure that your buyer’s solicitor is a properly accredited organisation.
We will send a contract package to your buyer’s solicitors which will consist of contract documentation; copy Land Registry Title Documentation and any other associated documents required including the Property Information and Fixtures and Fittings form you would have completed and returned to us previously. The package may also include things such as planning permission/guarantees etc. if they are appropriate to your property.
In nearly all cases your buyer’s solicitors will send to us some questions (called preliminary or additional enquiries) about your property and the contract documentation we have sent to them. Typically these enquiries fall into three categories:-
As soon as we receive these enquiries we will send a copy to you giving you details of any enquiries that we need you to answer or for which you need to supply information to assist us in answering.
How can you help us? – If we need your input on any enquiries it would be helpful if you could send us the information back as soon as possible. If there are any matters you do not understand then you need to contact us as soon as possible for clarification.
Possible problems – in some cases due to legal problems or possibly as a result of matters raised in a survey, the preliminary enquiries we receive from the buyer’s solicitors may be long and complex and take some time to deal with. We will endeavour to co-operate with you to resolve any problems as soon as possible.
In preparation for exchange of contracts we will send you the contract document for your signature and also a report on the contract and future progress of the transaction.
How can you help us? – You should read our report carefully and sign the contract and return it to us as soon as possible.
When you and your buyers are ready to proceed and have agreed a date for completion we will exchange contracts on your behalf. This is a process that we go through with your buyer’s solicitors and it is the step that makes the transaction legally binding. This means that after contracts are exchanged you will not be able to back out of the transaction or change your mind except at the risk of very heavy financial and other penalties.
How can you help us? – Prior to exchange of contracts you should discuss the completion date in advance with your buyer or if you are not in touch with your buyer direct, through any intermediary estate agents. It is essential that there is a mutually agreed completion date before exchange of contracts can take place and that date must be a week day (Monday to Friday) as the funds must be transferred on the day of completion and both solicitors’ offices must be open to enable the legal formalities to be completed.
Possible problems – problems and delays are often encountered by failure to agree a completion date and there is very little we can do to assist with this problem as the parties to the transaction must themselves work out a date which is suitable to both of them. It is also often a great source of frustration that you and your buyer may be ready, willing and able to proceed to exchange of contracts with an agreed completion date but other parties in the chain of transactions (SEE SELLING AND BUYING) may not be ready. Generally all the transactions in a chain need to exchange and complete on the same day and therefore you may be unavoidably delayed due to circumstances beyond your control and beyond your buyer’s control. Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to assist you with such problems and this is all part and parcel of buying and selling property under the present conveyancing system.
Sometimes because of a number of reasons including, for example, mortgage offers running out, it is required for exchange of contracts and completion to be simultaneous. This means that you need to agree a completion date in advance of exchange of contracts and all the work carried out by us that is generally dealt with after exchange of contracts is dealt with prior to exchange of contracts.
How can you help us? – A simultaneous exchange and completion is inherently risky and our advice to you is not to do it unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
Possible problems – the main problem with a simultaneous exchange and completion is that you will be expecting to complete the transaction on a certain date but that you will not have the backing of a legally enforceable contract and it would be possible for the other party to the transaction or someone elsewhere in the chain to change their minds which would mean the transaction would not go through and you would only get this information on the date proposed for completion. This could obviously produce considerable inconvenience and financial loss including payment of removal fees etc. Again, our advice is not to enter into this type of arrangement unless it is absolutely unavoidable.
After exchange of contracts we will provide you with a Transfer document when we receive it from the buyer’s solicitors. This is the actual document you sign and have witnessed which transfers the ownership of the property from you to the buyer. The buyer will send this document after completion to the Land Registry who will change the records to show that the ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer.
How can you help us? – Sometimes we do not get the Transfer until very shortly before the date of completion and it may therefore be urgent for you to return the documentation to us by hand to save postal delays. We cannot accept an emailed or faxed copy. We must have the original in our possession before completion can take place.
It is customary for the seller’s solicitor to pay any estate agent’s bill from the proceeds of sale. We will send to you a copy of the estate agent’s bill to make sure that you have an opportunity to check it prior to it being paid.
How can you help us? – You need to check the estate agent’s bill as soon as you receive it from us and resolve any discrepancy that may exist direct with the estate agent and give us clear instructions if there is a problem.
We will prepare a detailed financial statement for you prior to completion of the transaction which will show all the financial dealings for the property under our control, including the sale price, legal fees, estate agent’s fees and redemption of any mortgage(s). We will also ask you how you require us to pay any money to you.
How can you help us? – If you have any queries on the financial statement please contact us as soon as possible. Please also note that if we ask you to contact your mortgagee to press them to let us have a proper redemption statement it would be of great assistance if you could do this as soon as possible as often the lenders take more notice of their customers than they do of solicitors!
Possible problems – a frequent problem we have in providing you with a financial statement is that if you have a mortgage we often have difficulty in getting a financial statement showing the amount to repay the mortgage from your lender. We are often kept holding for a long time on busy telephone lines and there are often delays in this critical document being supplied to us. It is our experience over many years that lenders will deal with enquiries direct from their customers more efficiently than with their customers’ solicitors. We may, therefore, need to request that you contact the lender direct to provide a redemption statement in time for completion. Any delay in providing a financial statement may cause a delay in the completion of the transaction and great financial expense.
The financial position in respect of the leasehold sale of a flat or maisonette is somewhat more complicated in that your buyer will need to know that all financial obligations to the freeholder including, for example, payment of ground rent, payment of service charges, payment of insurance premium has been made by you up to the date of proposed completion. In addition, an apportionment statement may need to be made to recover for you any pre-payments made (for example if you have paid an insurance premium for the whole of the year).
How can you help us? – by keeping and providing us with all relevant documentation including receipts for monies paid to the freeholder and, if necessary, assisting us in chasing the freeholder to provide up to date financial documentation.
Possible problems – in some cases the title documentation of your property will not allow the leasehold interest to be transferred to your buyer until a certificate of compliance is given by your freeholder/management company. Usually the company will not give this certificate until all money due to them is paid by you. Any inaccuracies in the information you give us may result in our financial statement to you being incorrect and you not being able to recover easily sums due to you.
On the day of completion we receive the money direct into our bank account from the buyer’s solicitors and when this happens we will notify you and your estate agents confirming that it is possible to release the keys to the buyers. We will on the day of completion repay any mortgage you may have on the property by means of bank transfer in accordance with the redemption figure that we have received from your lender. We will send any balance due to you in accordance with the instructions you have given to us previously. Please note that we cannot send money out to any third party. If you need to pay a third party the money will need to go into your own account before you pay that third party yourself.
How can you help us? – Please make sure that your telephone is available on the day of completion so that we can contact you easily.
Possible problems – sometimes the money from the buyer’s solicitor does not arrive until later than expected. The most common cause of this is delays due to a long chain of transactions. We will notify you of any problems and work with the buyers and other solicitors to try and resolve them so that your move goes ahead smoothly.
If you have a mortgage on the property we will receive evidence of the discharge of the mortgage from your lender and we will forward this to the buyer’s solicitors.
How can you help us? – Occasionally there may be further queries from the buyers or their solicitors or from us relating to the property after completion and you can assist us by letting us have details of your new address if we are not acting for you in relation to the purchase of another property.