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Your guide to a faster, less stressful house move.

Why is Unchained going to help me

We will talk about all the features of unchained as we go through and there are many, but the main one - the UK property process is built on two key elements - (1) Time and (2) Credibility. The reason 25% of property transaction fail is due to the number of points of failure in the process where the whole transaction can fail.   To get the best offer accepted to you need to be in the right position in terms of money to buy the house and the legal documents required to complete a purchase Whilst you're getting your documents and paperwork organised there is always the risk you find another house or the sellers get a better offer. Preparing your move in advance and doing the right due diligence will enable you to reduce the risk of your transaction failing.   Unchained is the only place where you can plan and manage all the elements of the move in one place, but we can't do it all for you, we just provide the tools, advice and platform for you to succeed.

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Buy or Rent?

While over 80% of the UK are homeowners you don't have to be part of the crowd, unchained can help you work out all you need to buy a house before you make a single viewing, including sorting a budget and planning the activities you need to consider.

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Sell first or wait till you find a place?

Without a doubt due to the complexity of timing and the great number of challenges a cash buyer rules the waves. But its a trade off, housing is in short supply so any savings you might make on getting a better deal on the asking price will be offset against short term rentals. If you have someplace cheap to wait it out then do it as you will have more chance of snagging the place you want. One reminder, don't think about selling and waiting for the next housing crash, houses are a long term investments and already house prices are exceeding the levels of the crash from 2008.

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How much will it cost?

Varies, but with the Unchainedhouse.com site the budget calculator will allow you to do all the homework you need. The big costs are stamp duty, solicitor fees and estate agent fees.

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Budget Planning

Most fees are based on a % of the selling price of the house, almost everyone uses this metric which we think is pretty rubbish. You can play around with different scenarios in the budget calculator.

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Where and how you want to live

Where and how you want to live will be driven most likely by circumstance but key things to consider - Travel links, council development plans (yes, each council publishes a long term development plan so if you want to check if rural retreat is going to stay rural, then check you local council planning website) 

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Property Types

There are lots of choices but I would make you aware of a few things that are key and the definitions.   Freehold - In England and Wales and Scotland, a freehold is the ownership of real property, or land,[1] and all immovable structures attached to such land   Leasehold in which the property reverts to the owner of the land after the lease period has expired.[2] Immovable property includes land and all that naturally goes with it, such as buildings, trees or underground resources, but not such things as vehicles or livestock.   In short language, the freehold you own the land your house is on, in leasehold you don't, you just pay a fee each year. Listed Building - if you're looking for a character property it's most likely listed, here are the types and do your homework online - [Link Historic England - https://historicengland.org.uk/listing/what-is-designation/listed-buildings/ as restrictions are enforced Categories of listed buildings   Grade I buildings are of exceptional interest, only 2.5% of listed buildings are Grade I Grade II* buildings are particularly important buildings of more than special interest; 5.5% of listed buildings are Grade II* Grade II buildings are of special interest; 92% of all listed buildings are in this class and it is the most likely grade of listing for a home owner.

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Making an offer

            1. Mortgage Buyer with house on the market - You have your house on the market but not sold - Not Proceedable - therefore offers from this position will be unlikely accepted.             2. Mortgage Buyer with house not on the market - worst case as for any potential houses youThis is where your unchained score helps you, most people will get multiple offers on a house, each offer will come from a different buyer potentially - your credibility as a buyer is the biggest factor. Here is our top trumps ranking of buyers.             1. Cash buyer with No Chain (i.e the people selling are not in a chain) - will always be able to make the most aggressive offer as in the property world is in a very proceedable position.              2. Mortgage Buyer who is sold subject to contract - someone who has already sold but is in the contracting process so ahead of people who are just under offer - also a proceedable position but in a chain.              3. Mortgage Buyer but Under Offer - they have accepted an offer on the house they are selling but not much more - whilst they are proceedable in the process             3. see that you fall in love with, your at the bottom of the list compared to buyers in position 1-4 - Not Proceedable   Whenever you put an offer in on a house you're competing against the above profiles of bidders. It's important that you spend time on your budget and planning to ensure you put in the most competitive offer.   

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Mortgage or Cash

Simple - cash is king, if you can buy a house for cash, then do it, you can always mortgage it later if you need to free up some money but in terms of getting a stellar deal on your new home there is only one way - buy it with cash - sadly only few are in this very nice position unless you sell up first and move into temporary accommodation.

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Get your team of Estate Agent, Solicitor and other key players

Unchained allows you to put together your team of supporting people. With new sites like Unchained you can start to consider managing the move process yourself, you can add your solicitor, movers and anyone that can help including friends and family who have experience that can help you.

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Do you needs a survey

The mortgage company will require a valuation survey but this will only assess if the house if worth what your mortgage is required for. An additional Survey which comes with numerous options will inspect the property in much greater details. Remember once you exchange contracts, you own the house, if it then needs a new roof it's your problem, a structural survey is also a great way to support any negotiations you may have. If you discover lots of work needing to be done then you can ask for this to be reflected in the price, whether the sellers agree is another matter.

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How much is the deposit

Its normally 10% of the house you're buying but is up for negotiation. Generally it needs to be an amount the seller is comfortable will tie you into the deal. Its paid on exchange and after the stamp duty is a sizable chunk of your budget.

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Exchange contracts

This is the big milestone and is the point where the probability of the transaction completing is almost 99%. Contracts are all exchanged on the same day in the chain and at the same time a moving or completion date is agreed so you can book your removal firms.

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Final arrangements and negotiations

Any final agreements for things you might be buying outside of the house purchase or documents needing to be supplied can be wrapped up after exhange - remember its always your decision at what point your happy to exchange contracts but once you have done it you have bought the house - so get your documents and research right before.

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Complete the sale

Completion date will result in all the money being released to the various solicitors who will then make all the payments, once all the transfers have happened your solicitor will give you a call and keys to all the various people will be released to the respective buyers.

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Take possession of your new home

Move day is all about timing, you will normally need to be vacated from your property by 2pm although again this can be negotiated. This gives everyone a few hour to then move the main items into the house. You will incur penalties if you don't vacate in time so consider this when deciding who and how to move home.

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What is Exchange contracts?

This is when the contract becomes legally   binding on both buyer and seller (note that   merely signing it does not bind either party). It is   so called because both buyer and seller sign   identical copies of the contract and the two   copies are literally swapped, or exchanged.  

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Pre-Exchange Checklist

Once exchange of contracts has taken place   both parties are bound in to the contract,   therefore it is vital that all outstanding matters are   resolved prior to exchange taking place. The   following is a list of items that might be   required/checks that should be made before   proceeding.   Seller's Solicitor       1. Is the contract signed by all sellers?   2. Is the contract signed by any occupiers?   3. Do you have provisional redemption   statements for all charges?   4. Has a completion date been agreed?   5. Do you have a Transfer Deed signed by   all sellers? If not, will there be sufficient   time between exchange of contracts and   completion to have it signed?   6. If there are any Notices or Restrictions   which are to be removed, do you have   the appropriate paperwork in your   possession?   7. If the property is leasehold, do you have   an up to date statement of the service   charge and rent account, or else is there   time between exchange of contracts and   completion to obtain this information?   8. Have you taken the seller's authority, on   the day of exchange of contracts, and   checked the completion date and sale   price?   9. Does your client have a dependent   purchase?   1. Has a completion date been agreed?   2. Have you advised the buyer that he will   need to place his buildings insurance on   risk from exchange of contracts?   3. If leasehold, has the seller's solicitor   advised how much the apportionments   will be, and if so have you collected   sufficient funds? If not, will there be time   between exchange of contracts and   completion to collect the funds?   4. Have any mortgage offer special   conditions been satisBuyer's Solicitor       1. Is the contract signed by the buyers?   2. Do you have a signed Mortgage Deed?   3. If there will be occupiers following   completion who are not a party to the   mortgage, are you holding an occupier's   consent and waiver signed by all of   them? (this does not apply to tenants)   4. Are you holding the contract deposit and   is it cleared funds?   5. fied?   6. Have you checked how many days notice   the lender requires to release funds?   7. Have you taken authority from the buyer   to exchange contracts and checked the   purchase price and completion date?   8. Does your client have a dependent sale?

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Methods of Exchange

There are various methods of exchanging   contracts, which are detailed below:       In Person   Traditionally, in a time when both firms of   solicitors would have been on the same high   street, the two solicitors would meet and   exchange contracts, and the buyer's solicitor   would hand over the deposit, in person.   Nowadays this will rarely happen.     Even if the two firms are local to each other (and   often they are not) it is easier to use one of the   exchange formulae described below.   Formula A Exchange of Contracts     When it becomes apparent that it was no longer   practical for solicitors to exchange contracts in   person, the Law Society came up with three   formulae to deal with the problems this raised.   when using     Formula A, which is quite rarely used, the buyer's   solicitor will post his client's part of the contract,   together with the deposit, to the seller's solicitor,   who will then telephone (though he could instead   write to) the buyer's solicitor to confirm exchange   of contracts has taken place.     Formula B Exchange of Contracts. This is the   most commonly used method. Each solicitor   holds his own client's part of the contract and   one telephones the other. They go through the   contracts to check they are identical and if they   are they agree that the contracts are exchanged.   The buyer's solicitor must then immediately send   the deposit, usually by client account cheque, to   the seller's solicitor. The exception to this is   where the seller's solicitor has agreed that the   deposit may be "held to order", that is to say held   by the buyer's solicitor on the condition that it will   be immediately released to the seller's solicitor   on demand. This might happen where there is   insufficient time between exchange of contracts   and completion for the deposit cheque to clear in   the seller's solicitor's bank account.     Formula C Exchange of Contracts - Linked   Transactions. This is similar to formula B, and   indeed when completed it will be recorded as a   formula B exchange, however it facilitates   exchanges where there is a chain of   transactions. The problem that arises with a   chain is that there is a risk that a solicitor will   exchange contracts on his client;s sale property,   then attempt to exchange on his client's onward   purchase only to find that the seller's solicitor is   not ready or that the seller does not want to   proceed. This can happen even when the seller   and his solicitor have previously intimated they   were ready. This would of course leave the client   bound to sell his property but with no property to   buy. This problem is overcome with the release   system. A chain will necessarily have a buyer   who has nothing to sell at the bottom, and a   seller with nothing to buy at the top.     The exchange process starts with the solicitor for   the buyer at the bottom (we will call this position   1) releasing the contract to the next solicitor on in   the chain (position 2). This means that position 1   agrees he will exchange with position 2 provided   that position 2 calls him back by an agreed time   to complete the exchange. Position 2 can now   contact the solicitor at position 3 and attempt to   exchange contracts, safe in the knowledge that if   successful then position 1 is obliged to exchange   with him and if he is not then he is not obliged to   exchange with position 1. Position 1 does not   have to worry about the possibility that exchange   might not take place since his client does not   have a dependent transaction. If position 3 is not   the top of the change then position 2, rather than   simply exchanging with position 3, may release   the contract to him. If position 3 then cannot   exchange with position 4, he does not confirm   the exchange with position 2 who does not   therefore confirm it with position 1, and so   nobody is bound into a contract. I say earlier that   there is always a time limit on a release. This is   necessary so that the person giving the release   is not bound indefinitely. The release should   always expire on the same day it is given, since it   is possible that something may happen overnight   to make the person whose solicitor has given the   release decide that he does not want to proceed.   If the release has not expired that he is obliged to   proceed. If a solicitor is taking the benefit of a   release and then giving a release to the next link   in the chain, he should make sure that the   release he gives expires at least 15 minutes, but   preferably half an hour, before the release he   has the benefit of. If the two expired at the same   time, or within a few minutes of each other, there   is the risk that the solicitor he has released to will   get back to him at the last minute to confirm   exchange, thus meaning that by the time that   exchange is completed the release he has taken   will have expired and he may no longer be able   to complete the exchange. Although the method   of taking and giving releases is known as formula   C, once the exchange is completed it becomes a   formula B, and this how it is recorded on the   contract (the rationale being that you take/give a   formula C release so that you can then complete   a formula B exchange).

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Undertakings on Exchange of Contracts

Whatever exchange formula is used, there is an   undertaking implied into all exchanges that each   solicitor will forward the copy of the contract   signed by his client to the other on the day of   exchange, and that the buyer's solicitor will   immediately forward the deposit cheque (save   that for formula A the seller's solicitor will already   have the buyer's part contract and   deposit).Where there is a chain of transactions,   the deposit cheque will sometimes be passed   straight to the top of the chain. This is because   there may not be time for it to be posted to each   solicitor in turn, who would then have to wait for it   clear before posting it on.

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Simultaneous Exchange and Completion

This is where exchange of contracts and   completion take place on the same day. This   might be done where the parties decide they   want to complete at short notice, or where buyer   does not have a deposit to offer (for example if   he is obtaining a 100% mortgage). It does have   its risks, since there is no guarantee, until the   day itself, that completion will take place, and so   there is the risk that deposits paid to removal   companies will be lost, telephones and possibly   other services will be disconnected prematurely   etc etc. In addition, the funds may not begin to be   transferred until after the exchange has been   done. Since this means the funds will begin their   journey later, it in turn means that there is a   greater risk that they will not reach their   destination in time. My own view is that   simultaneous exchange and completion should   only be considered where there is no chain, or no   more than 2 properties in a chain.

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Mortgage offers

When acting for a purchaser who is buying with a   mortgage the conveyancer will, on the vast   majority of occasions, also act for the lender. It   should be noted that no commercial (as opposed   to private) lender will allow the purchaser to carry   out his own conveyancing. If the purchaser   chooses not to appoint a solicitor then the lender   will appoint their own and the purchaser will be   expected to pay the fees.

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The Mortgage Lenders' Instructions

The conveyancer will receive from the lender his   own copy of the mortgage offer. It will be different   from that issued to the purchaser and the   mortgage broker in that it will contain the lenders'   instructions to act on their behalf. As the offer   acts as the lenders' instructions to the firm to act   on their behalf it must be properly addressed to   the firm and a hard copy must be received. If the   offer is addressed to another firm then the   solicitor cannot act until a correctly addressed   offer is received.The instructions will be in the   form of a covering letter and will set out certain   prerequisites for the firm to act, for example   some lenders will specify a minimum number of   partners that the firm must have and others will   not accept firms of Licensed Conveyancers. The   instructions should also state that they are   supplemental to those contained in the Council of   Mortgage Lenders (CML) handbook, although   there are a few lenders who are not members of   the council. The lenders' handbook contains a   set of instructions to conveyancers which has   been agreed between the members of the   council and conveyancers should familiarise   themselves with it. Finally, the lenders'   instructions should state that they comply with   rule 3(19) of the Solicitors Code of Conduct   (formerly rule 6(3) of the Solicitors Practice   Rules). Rule 3 states that a solicitor cannot act   for more than one party in a transaction and 3.19   sets out the exceptions to that rule, one of which   is that he may act for both purchaser and lender   provided that both parties are aware and are in   agreement. Should a conflict arise however, the   solicitor must cease to act for either party.

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Checking the Mortgage Offer

The conveyancer is obliged to check the offer to   ensure that certain details are correct, and to   report any inaccuracies to the lender. Checking   the offer has been made much simpler in recent   times by the introduction of a standard format   which all lenders must follow. The important   details are as follows:

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The Address of the Property

If the address is incorrect on the mortgage offer   then it may be that the wrong property has been   surveyed.

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The Names of the Borrowers

The lender will have carried out credit checks   against the borrowers prior to agreeing to lend.   Obviously it is important that they have searched   against the correct names. Careful attention   should be paid to the spelling of the names, even   a seemingly minor spelling error could produce   an entirely false credit search result. The people   who are buying the property must be the same   as the people named on the mortgage. There   cannot be a person or persons who are parties to   the mortgage but not joint owners, or vice versa.

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The Purchase Price

The price stated in the mortgage offer should   be the same as that stated in the transfer   deed, unless the lender states specifically in   the offer that differences need not be   reported. No lender will allow a difference of   more than 5% of the purchase price to go   unreported. The reason for this is to guard   against borrowers artificially inflating the   price of the property in the mortgage   application so as to encourage the lender to   lend more than it is worth, or a higher   percentage of the total price than they would   generally lend.

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Term of Lease, Ground Rent and Service Charge

Obviously this is applicable only to leasehold   properties. The valuer will take the remaining lease term, annual rent and possibly the   estimated annual service charge. Where these   details appear in the offer the conveyancer   should check that they are correct.

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The Special Conditions

At the end or sometimes at the beginning of the   offer there will often be a list of special   conditions. Some conditions are directly   specifically at the borrower but some are for the   conveyancer to deal with, or at least it will be   necessary for the conveyancer to check that they   have been satisfied prior to exchanging   contracts.These conditions can cover any   number of things, such as ensuring that any   existing mortgages are redeemed, supplying   copies of identification documents, supplying the   lender with survey reports on problems picked up   by the valuer (this would be for the borrower to   arrange) or obtaining undertakings to from the   borrower for works to be carried out post   completion.One condition that does arise from   time to time, but that should not, is a condition   obliging the conveyancer to pay off unsecured   borrowing, such as loans or credit cards. The   obligation should be on the borrower only and   the conveyancer should advise the lender that he   will not be complying with the condition. He   should advise that such an instruction falls   outside the scope of rule 3.19 of the Solicitors   Code of Conduct and as such he is not allowed t   continue to act for both parties in the transaction   if that instruction is not withdrawn. He should not   then proceed until he has received the lenders'   further instructions.

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The Amount to be Advanced

Care should be taken when checking the amount   which will be received from the lender. The   amount to be borrowed will be stated in section   3, however there may be deductions from the   sum. These will be noted in fees section (section   8). Look out in particular for such things and   CHAPS (or telegraphic transfer) fees, fees   charged when the borrower is not taking   insurance through the lender and arrangement   fees. Some fees will be added to the loan, some   will be paid prior to issue of the offer and others   will be deducted from the advance. If the amount   to be received is not completely clear then it   should be confirmed with the lender prior to   exchange.

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The Certificate of Title

The Certificate of Title (sometimes called the   Report on Title) is a certificate given to the lender   by the conveyancer to confirm that the title is a   good an marketable title and that the lenders'   instructions, both in the offer and in the CML   handbook, have been complied with. Though in   the actual document you will sign it will not be set   out in full, by confirming that their instructions   comply with rule 3.19 of the Solicitors Code of   Conduct (or some lenders may still refer to rule   6(3) of the Solicitors Practice rules) the lender is   advising that they expect the terms contained in   the approved form of certificate annexed to rule 3   to be complied with. This certificate is of course   restricted to legal matters and does not act as a   warranty as to the physical state of the   property.Each of the lenders have their own style   of certificate. There are certain details which   must be completed in all cases (property   address, borrower's name, conveyancer's bank   details etc) but the certificate should be checked   at this point to see if the particular lenders have   any additional requirements such as buildings   insurance details or identification documents. In   addition, all certificates need to be signed by a   solicitor, legal executive or licensed conveyancer   as a minimum but some need to be signed by a   partner.As well certifying that the property is a   good security for the loan, the certificate of title is   also used to request release of the mortgage   advance. Once a completion date is known   therefore it should be entered on the certificate   which should then be forwarded to the lender. It   is generally a good idea to fax the certificate as   well as post it since you will then have proof of   delivery on a given day. Each lender requires a   specific period of notice to release funds in time   for the completion date, ranging from 24 hours to   7 working days. The notice period should be   stated in the mortgage offer and whilst lenders   will often deal with the certificate in a shorter time   if asked, they are not obliged to do so and will   not be liable for any losses resulting from a late   completion if they are not given the notice they   have requested. This must therefore be taken   into consideration when arranging a completion   date.

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The Mortgage Deed

The mortgage deed is the document which is   used to register the lenders' charge over the   property. It must be signed by all borrowers,   correctly witnessed and held on the   conveyancer's file prior to the conveyancer using   the mortgage advance. When asking the   borrower to sign the deed the conveyancer must   explain the nature of the affect of it to him, i.e.   that the lenders will have a legal charge over his   property which will enable them, should he   default on the repayments of the loan, to take   possession of the property and sell it to recover   the outstanding balance.

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Unsecured Loan Agreements

Some mortgages come with an unsecured loan   agreement attached. This enables the lender to   lend more than 100% of the value of the   property, for example it may lend 95% by way of   a mortgage and 10% by way of a personal loan.   The loan is attached to the mortgage insofar as it   will be offered at the same rate as the mortgage   as long as the mortgage is maintained. Should   the mortgage be redeemed however the loan   would revert to a normal personal loan rate   (usually much higher). The loan can of course be   redeemed along with the mortgage. If the   borrower defaults on the loan payments the   lender is not entitled to possession of the   property since the loan is not secured. This of   course does not affect the lender's rights in the   event the borrower defaults on the mortgage   payments.       The unsecured loans are regulated by the   Consumer Credit Act 1974 (CCA) and as such   certain procedures need to be followed. The   borrower is entitled to a "cooling off" period of 5   days. The borrower is asked to sign the   agreement which is then returned to the lender   (sometimes via the solicitor) and the lender then   has seven days to countersign the agreement   and return it to the borrower. On receipt the   borrower has five days in which to change his   mind and cancel the agreement, after which it   binding. That said however, funds do not need to   be requested from the lender immediately and if   the purchase did not proceed at all then the   borrower would not have to take the loan. Even though some firms choose to take the risk,   the cooling off period cannot by law waived, even   by the borrower. The logic behind this is that, say   he is being pressed to complete before the   cooling off period expires, some lenders   (Northern Rock is one) may release the funds to   the solicitor early but that is on the basis that   should the borrower exercise his right to   withdraw during the cooling off period the lender   will expect (and have a right to expect) the   solicitor to return the funds, irrespective of   whether he is still holding them or has used them   for the purchase. Some firms will ask the   borrower to sign a waiver, giving up his statutory   right to a cooling off period, but the whole point of   the law is that the borrower is entitled to make a   decision about the loan and then reverse it - the   signing of a waiver therefore does not add   anything to the loan agreement which will have   already been signed.       The solicitor would of course be entitled to   pursue the borrower to recover the loan money   but would in the first place have to repay the   lender out of his own funds. Another rule of the   CCA is that neither solicitor nor lender may   contact the borrower to discuss the loan during   the cooling off period so as to avoid undue   influence. Advising a borrower to waive his rights   must surely breach this rule therefore a well   advised client, when being sued for money in   respect of the loan, may decide to make a   counter-claim against the solicitor for negligence.   I should point out that I am not experienced in   litigation and cannot comment as to whether   such an action would be likely to succeed.       There is even a school of though which says that   contracts should not be exchanged during the   cooling off period since this could be considered   undue influence the borrower will have a   statutory right to cancel the loan agreement but   knows that should he do so he will breach his   contract and be liable to pay the seller   compensation. So far I have come across three   lenders who offer CCA regulated loans along   with their mortgages, and each has a slightly   different procedure. The three are as follows:       Alliance & Leicester   Alliance & Leicester do not ask the solicitor to   become involved at all in the procedures relating   to the loan. They will advise in the mortgage offer   that there is a loan attached and that you should   not exchange contracts until they have confirmed   in writing that the formalities have been   completed. They will send the loan agreement   directly to the borrower and will advise the   solicitor in writing once the cooling off period has   expired. They will automatically release the loan   along with the mortgage advance.       Coventry Building Society   The Coventry includes the loan agreement with   the mortgage offer and asks the conveyancer to   forward it to the client. They also enclose another   form in which the client can specify whether they   want a 5 day or a 15 day cooling off period. On   receipt from the client the forms must then be   forwarded to the Coventry They will not release   funds until the cooling off period has elapsed. If   the form advising the length of cooling off period   required is not included they will assume 15   days.  

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Occupier Consent & Waiver Forms

If the property is to be occupied by the borrower   along with another person over the age of 17   who is not a joint owner, such as a spouse,   partner, grown up child or lodger, then that   person will need to sign a consent & waiver form   in favour of the lender. This waives any rights the   occupier might accrue in the property or in the   equity in favour of the lender, so that the lender   may evict him should they need to repossess.   The lender will have their standard form which   should be used. Some lenders require the form   to be signed in the presence of an independent   solicitor. Even where they do not, when being   asked to sign the form the conveyancer should   advise the occupier that he is signing a legally   binding document and should seek independent   legal advice (though there is no reason for the   conveyancer to insist if the occupier chooses not   to). The conveyancer cannot of course advise   him since this would create a conflict of interest   between lender and occupier.

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Deeds of Guarantee

Sometimes the lender will ask that the borrower   appoints a guarantor, ho will be responsible for   repaying the loan should the borrower fail. If this   is the case the conveyancer will need to ensure   that the guarantor signs a deed of guarantee,   which will be in the lender's standard form. This   deed is vitally important, since without it the   lender cannot force the guarantor to pay. Many   lenders will insist that the deed of guarantee is   signed in the presence of a solicitor, which   cannot of course be the conveyancer who is   acting in the purchase because of the conflict of   interest this would create. Even when the lender   does not insist the conveyancer should point out   to the guarantor that he would be wise to seek   independent legal advice.

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Land Registry

In the case of registered land, the land registry's   registers contain all the details of the title to a   property. An Official Copy of the register is   therefore the equivalent of a full set of title deeds   (save that a register entry may sometimes refer   to a deed that has relevant content, rather than   abstracting it). You can view an example of a   freehold Official Copy by clicking the link. You   may wish to print this example as I will refer to it   regularly during this section.

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Ordering Documents from Land Registry

Documents can be ordered from the Land   Registry either through their Portal (if you have   an account) or through the post. You can also   use our online ordering service on our sister site.   To use this service to download land registry   documents just click the link and follow the on   screen instructions. We aim to return your   documents by email within 24 hours.

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The Official Copy Banner

At the head of the first page, you firstly see that   this document is described as an "OFFICIAL   COPY OF THE REGISTER ENTRIES". When   acting for a purchaser you should ensure that   these are the words which appear. You will   sometimes be supplied with a "REGISTER   VIEW&"- this is not an Official Copy and is not   admissible as evidence of the contents of the   register. This means that the Land Registry is not   liable for any losses suffered as a result of an   error on a Register View. Follow the following link   to view the land registry's practice guide on the   issue of Official Copies.This section also gives   the date and exact time of issue. The date is the   date that should be used to search from when   performing the Official Search (OS1) . Finally the   banner tells us the particular office which is   dealing with the title.

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HM Land Registry Title Number

Every individual registered title is given its own   unique identifier, known as the title number. It is   important to note that a particular parcel of land   may be subject to more than one title, for   example a parcel of freehold land has a freehold   title with its own number but it may be subject to   a leasehold title.

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Official Copy Edition Date

This is the date on which the register was last   amended. This will usually be the last time the   title was transferred or mortgaged.

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Property Register

This register begins by telling us which county   and administrative area the title falls under. It   then goes on to describe the title and the land to   which it relates. The date at the beginning of the   description is the date the title was first   registered. It then goes on to tell us the type of   estate this is. There are 3 "Estates in Land"   which are capable of registration with their own   title number. They are:- Freehold , Leasehold   andCommonhold .The title to a dwelling will be   either freehold, leasehold or commonhold.The   first paragraph will then refer to the land edged   red on the plan (the filed plan of the particular   title) and will give the property address. The land   registry use different colours for specific   purposes, red edging being used to define the   extent of the land in the title. If the title were   leasehold you would then see "short particulars   of the lease" - that is to say the original parties,   the date, the term, the term start date (often   earlier the date of the lease) and sometimes the   ground rent. For a leasehold flat there will usually   be a note which reads "As to the land tinted blue   on the plan only the x floor flat is included in the   title", where x is the floor on which the flat can be   found.Next you will find details of the easements   (rights) associated with the property. Rights   which the property has the benefit of will appear   first, followed by those which it has the burden of.   The rights will either be set out in full in the   official copies, as per the example, or else there   be an entry stating that they are contained in a   particular document, in which case an official   copy of the document will be filed at land registry.   If this is the case then an official copy will need to   be obtained, normally at the expense of the   seller.In some cases the title will state that the   property is subject to, and/or has the benefit of,   rights contained in a deed which has never been   produced to land registry. This would occur   when, for example, a document is produced on   first registration which refers to an earlier   document which cannot be produced. In this   scenario you would need to consider what effect   the unknown rights to which the property is   subject might have, and whether they are likely   to still be enforceable. Firstly look at the age of   the missing document. Often it will be 100+ years   old and the rights it contained will be long   forgotten. Secondly, consider the age of the   property. Rights which are unregistered are   eventually lost if not exercised for a certain   length of time. If a property is 40 years old   therefore, and a right is discovered which can no   longer be exercised because the property has   been built (a right to hold a fair on the land for   example) It is highly unlikely that a court would   order the removal of the property in order that the   right could continue to be exercised. Thirdly,   consider the nature of the property. A large   country estate could be subject to any number of   rights - fishing, shooting, grazing etc., however   except in an extreme case such as suggested   above, a terraced or semi-detached property on   sub-urban street is unlikely to be subject to   anything more than rights of support and of   drainage, and possibly rights of way over some   shared passageway. Since the exercise of these   is unlikely to have a particularly detrimental effect   on the value or enjoyment of the property, they   should not cause concern. In any case you   should enquire when acting for a purchaser   whether the seller is aware of any rights being   exercised which are not registered.If you are not   satisfied that any unknown rights will not pose a   threat, and if you are unable to obtain a copy of   the missing document (it may be with the seller's   bundle of deeds and may have simply been   overlooked on registration) then it is possible to   insure against the risk. See the topic on Legal   Indemnity Insurance

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Proprietorship Register

As the name suggests, this section of the official   copies tells us about the proprietor (owner) of   the property, however the first thing you will see   from looking at the example is that it tells us the   class of title - in this case Title Absolute.The   different classes of title are as follows:     Title Absolute   This is the best class of title to have and cannot   be challenged, even if a person can prove that   they would be, but for the present proprietor's   registration with title absolute, entitled to be   registered as the proprietor. In addition a person   registered with absolute title takes the land free   of any matters (such as rights, covenants etc)   which are not registered against the title (with the   exception of overriding interests). This class of   title will be granted by land registry if, when the   title is first presented for registration, the person   applying for registration can show an unbroken   chain of ownership going back at lease 15 years.   In the case of leasehold title the applicant would   also need to prove the landlord's right to grant   the lease. If the landlord's title is already   registered then the applicant need only produce   official copies of the registers of that title,   otherwise he must deduce the landlord's title in   the same way as his own, i.e. by demonstrating   15 years' ownership.     Qualified Title   This would be granted where a person applying   for registration could show an unbroken chain of   ownership but not going back 15 years, or   perhaps if there were gaps in the chain. In this   case a person with a better claim to the land   could challenge ownership and potentially   succeed. A buyer should therefore be wary of   accepting a property with only qualified title. As   to what might constitute a better claim, this would   be decided by the Chief Land Registrar and it is   not wise to attempt to predict what the outcome   might be.   Possessory Title   This may be granted where a person is in   physical occupation of land but has no deeds to   support his right of ownership. Before making an   application for possessory title the applicant (or   his predecessors) must have been in unbroken   occupation for at least 10 years in the case of   registered land or 12 years in the case of   unregistered land. Evidence of occupation must   be in the form of a statutory declaration sworn by   the applicant and any predecessors. The land   registry will also inspect the land to check that it   is properly fenced off and that the applicant's   occupation is clear to see. If the land is already   registered, the land registry must give notice of   the application to the registered proprietor. If no   objection is received within 2 years of notice   being served then the land registry will register   the applicant with possessory title. If the land   was previously unregistered then the land   registry will not have any details of the legal   owner and so will not be able to serve notice.   They will therefore simply register the applicant   following a satisfactory inspection of the land. A   person who holds land with possessory title   takes it subject to any rights, covenants etc   which may exist over it, and is also at risk from   anyone who can prove a better claim to the land   (with the exception of any previous registered   proprietor who was given notice of the claim for   possessory title and took no action). 15 years   after being registered with possessory title a   person (or their successors) may apply to have   the title upgraded to absolute.   Good Leasehold   This class of title will be granted where the   applicant is able to prove an unbroken chain of   ownership of the leasehold title going back at   lease 15 years, but cannot do the same for the   superior title. This means that there is potential   for someone with a better claim to the superior   title than the purported landlord to challenge the   legality of the lease. It is quite likely that such a   challenge would fail, although the true owner of   the superior title may still claim that title and may   be entitled to compensation. When acting for a   purchaser of land with good leasehold title the   solicitor should first to see whether it is possible   to prove the superior title. Sometimes it will   transpire that the that it is now registered, and in   that case, provided that official copies of the   registers of the superior title are submitted to the   land registry, they will upgrade to absolute title.   Alternatively it may be possible to obtain from the   landlord copies of his deeds going back 15   years, which again if submitted to the land   registry should be sufficient to upgrade the title.   Often however, the landlord's title will not be   registered and indeed the landlord may not be   traceable. In this case indemnity insurance   should be obtained.If ever a purchaser is buying   land that is registered with less than absolute   title, and if it will not be possible to upgrade on   registration, then indemnity insurance should be   obtained. Indeed, where a mortgagee is involved,   it would be a breach of CML requirements were it   not. It should also be noted that even with   insurance, a lender is unlikely to accept   possessory title except if the part of the property   which has only possessory title (or no title at all)   does not include the house itself or the access to   the property. All instances of less than absolute   title should be reported to the lender.     Proprietor Details   The next section of the proprietorship register will   give the owner's name and registered address,   and the date that he was first registered as   proprietor. Please note that the address given   here will be taken from the owner's application   for registration and will be used for the service of   any notices which the land registry may need to   serve therefore care should be taken to ensure   that it is accurate. Although not in our example,   this section will now also state the price paid by   the current proprietor. This can be a good   indicator of a transfer at undervalue and if this is   suspected appropriate enquiries should be   raised.     Indemnity Covenant   At paragraph 2 you will see a note that tells that   a previous transfer of this land contained what is   referred to as an "indemnity covenant". We will   discuss the meaning of covenants later in this   section, but briefly, negative covenants are only   binding on the person who originally gave the   covenant. In order to protect sellers from being   bound by covenants after they have sold   therefore, the following words should be placed   in the transfer deed "The Transferee/s hereby   covenant/s with the Transferor/s by way of   indemnity only to observe and perform the   covenants contained or referred to in the   registers of title number and to be liable for any   future breach or non-observance thereof"You   may see several variations on this wording, but   the key word to watch out for is "future".   Sometimes this will be omitted, which then   renders the buyer liable for breaches occurring   prior to his ownership.If the entry at paragraph 2   in our example does not appear then either there   are no covenants affecting the title or else the   chain of covenants has been broken. In either   case the buyer should not accept an indemnity   covenant in the transfer deed since it would not   be of benefit to either seller or buyer, and could   be detrimental to the buyer. The exception is   when the seller is the original covenantor (for   example if they purchased from the local   authority, or a developer).     Restrictions   Next you will see any restrictions which affect the   property. In this case you will note that there is a   restriction in favour of the first charge holder.   Since this charge will be paid off on completion   the restriction will automatically disappear, and   so can be disregarded. Other forms of restriction   cannot, as if they are not removed or satisfied   they may prevent registration of the buyer's   purchase or else leave the buyer subject to third   party adverse interests. If you see any restriction   other than in the form contained in our example   refer to the page "Notices and Restriction"

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Charges Register

The final register of the official copies contains   any charges to which the property is subject,   such as mortgages, leases, covenants and   equitable charges. A brief explanation of each   follows:       Covenants   Covenants are rules which regulate the way land   can be used, or impose obligations on the land   owner, and are in addition to the rules created by   statute, such as planning law. They are usually   imposed by the original land owner for the benefit   of any adjoining land which he has retained, or   else by the developer for the benefit of the   remainder of the estate.The covenants affecting   a title will either be listed in the Charges   Register, as in our example, or else an entry will   appear which refers to the document that   originally imposed them, in which case that   document will be lodged at Land Registry, and   an Official Copy should be obtained.Covenants   can be split into two basic types - Positive and   Negative.       Positive Covenants   Positive covenants impose an obligation to   perform some action, for example to maintain a   boundary fence or to make an annual   contribution to an estate service charge fund.   You should note that they will sometimes be   worded negatively, for example there be a   covenant not to allow the property to fail into   disrepair, which is actually a covenant to   maintain it. Case law has shown that positive   covenants can only be enforced against the   original covenantor, and not against anyone who   purchases the property in future. Furthermore,   they can still be enforced against a person even   after they have parted with the land. This   obviously creates a problem for a seller who has   given a covenant and it is dealt with by putting an   indemnity covenant in the transfer to the buyer   (see the paragraph headed Indemnity Covenant   above). By imposing an indemnity covenant, the   seller, should action be taken against him for a   breach of covenant after he has parted with the   property, has the right to take action against the   buyer in order to recover his losses. It is   important therefore for a seller to spot when he is   a party to a covenant as failure to impose a   covenant on the buyer will render him liable for   all time.As time moves on, the "chain" of   covenants can get very long and difficult to trace   back, and a person who imposes a positive   covenant should accept that it will be difficult or   impossible to enforce once the original   covenantor has moved on.Where there is a   covenant to pay money, for example where a   management company has been set up to deal   with the maintenance of a private road or septic   tank, and an annual contribution is required from   each property owner on the estate, this is often   dealt with by placing a restriction on the title   which can only be satisfied if the consent of the   management company is obtained to any sale.   The consent will then only be issued if the buyer   enters in to a direct covenant with the   management company to pay the annual   contribution, and to observe and perform any   other covenants. There is then no problem with   enforceability by the management company. If   the company simply relied on a chain of   indemnity covenants then they would need to   trace the original buyer. Once that buyer was   deceased the covenant would cease to be   enforceable.Please note that the above applies   only to covenants in a freehold title. Covenants   contained in a Lease are enforceable against the   leaseholder for the time being.       Negative Covenants   Negative covenants are covenants to not do a   particular thing, for example "Not to make any   alterations or additions" or "Not to use the   property otherwise than as a private   dwellinghouse". They can sometimes be phrased   positively, for example "To use the property as   private dwellinghouse only". The way to decide   whether a covenant is positive or negative is to   consider how you can comply with it. If you have   to perform some action then it is positive. If you   do not have to do anything, it is   negative.Negative covenants run with land and   are enforceable against whoever owns the land   at the time. Additionally, they may benefit the   successors in title of the person who originally   imposed the covenant, but if so then this must be   expressed in the original covenant. This might   happen where a developer builds an estate and   wishes to protect each purchaser from the   possibility of another making changes to their   property, or allowing it to fall into such a state of   disrepair, as would have a negative effect of the   value of the non-offending purchaser's property.   This is necessary for two reasons. Firstly, it   prevents the need for the developer to become   involved where there is a claim for breach of   covenant against one of the properties on the   estate (because the benefit of the covenant   would pass from the developer to anyone who   purchased a property on the estate), and   secondly because of the issue of enforceability   (see the section below).       Enforceability of Covenants   Covenants (whether positive or negative) are   generally only enforceable where the person with   the benefit has a reasonable reason to enforce   them, so for example a developer who has sold   all the plots on an estate may find that they are   no longer able to enforce a covenant not to alter   the external appearance of a property against an   owner who has covered the front elevation in   graffiti, since it does not have a negative impact   on the developer unless there are plots   remaining to be sold.For this reason a covenant   will often be worded so that the benefit is passed   to others who may have an interest in the   covenant in future. It may be worded as follows:-   "The Transferee hereby covenants with the   Transferor his successors in title, heirs and   assigns for the benefit of the remainder of the   Estate...". The effect of this is that that each   property on the estate will now have the benefit   of the covenants imposed by the developer so   that although the developer may not succeed in   any action against the owner who has covered   his property in graffiti, the neighbours of the   offender probably will, since it is likely to have a   negative affect on the value of their own   properties.Case law shows us that there is a   limitation period of 20 years following which   covenants can no longer be enforced. This   means that if a breach of covenant has subsisted   for more than 20 years without objection then an   application to the courts for enforcement is   unlikely to be successful. The reasoning is that if   the beneficiary has allowed so much time to pass   without objection then a) the person in breach   should be entitled to assume that the beneficiary   of the covenant has no objection and it would   therefore be unfair to allow the covenant to be   enforced against him and b) it is likely that the   breach does not have a negative affect on the   beneficiary therefore there cannot be a   reasonable reason to enforce. It should be noted   that while the 20 year rule will apply in the vast   majority cases, these rules do not change the   law, and if a person is able to satisfy the court   that the 20 year rule should not apply in their   particular case then it is entitled to find in their   favour. If in doubt, a buyer should obtain   indemnity insurance.       Unknown covenants   You may see an entry in the Charges Register   which reads along the lines of "The land in this   title is subject to such covenants as are   contained or referred to in a deed dated between   but neither the original nor a certified copy was   produced on first registration". This would   happen where a document was produced to the   land registry on registration which referred back   to an earlier document which was either missing   or overlooked. Even where the covenants are not   known, the land owner is still bound by them, and   it is entirely possible that the beneficiary does   have details. When acting for a buyer therefore,   the first step is to ask the seller to check any old   title deeds he has, as it may be that he does   possess the original deed. If he does, then this   should be submitted to land registry on   registration, whereupon the entry relating to it will   be removed and replaced with details of the   actual covenants. It may be that the seller has an   unsigned copy, or an unmarked abstract. Whilst   neither would stand up against the original if it   differed, and cannot be submitted to land   registry, this will often be satisfactory to a buyer.   Failing these options, indemnity insurance   should be considered, which the seller will   normally be asked to pay for. Before agreeing   the seller should consider the level of risk posed   by the missing covenants. If, for example, the   covenants date back to the late nineteenth   century, and there has been no structural change   to the property or change in the way it has been   used for the past 30 years, then it is highly   unlikely that a) anyone who has inherited the   benefit of the covenant still has sufficient interest   in any surrounding land to be able to enforce it   and b) that any attempt to enforce would be   successful given the amount of time that must   have passed since any major breach began. If,   on the other hand, the covenants are 20 years   old and the property was built just over a year   ago, then it would be quite reasonable for the   buyer to insist on insurance.       Charges   Next in the Charges Register you will find details   of any financial charges (mortgages) registered   against the property. These are listed in order of   priority, that is to say that that in the event of the   property being sold and there being insufficient   equity to satisfy all charges (for example if the   property were to be repossessed) the holder of   the first charge is entitled to be repaid in full   before any monies are paid to the holder of the   second charge, and so on.The entry for a charge   will appear in two sections, as in our example.   The first section gives the date of registration of   the charge, tells us that it is a registered charge,   and gives the date it was created (this will be the   date of completion of the   purchase/remortgage).The next section gives   details of the chargee.The level of priority of a   charge is dictated by the order which it appears   in the register - the first entry having the highest   priority and so on. It is of course imperative   therefore when acting for a lender that their   charge is properly registered.       Notices   A notice is an entry which protects the priority of   an equitable interest (without actually proving   that the interest is valid). There are three types of   notice - Home Rights/Matrimonial Home Rights,   Unilateral and Agreed. If you see any of these   entries refer to the section "Notices and   Restrictions"       Power of Sale   The holder of a charge on a property has "Power   of Sale" - that is to say the power to repossess   the property in the event that the owner is breach   of his mortgage conditions (usually that he is   failing to make the repayments). It is not   necessarily the holder of the first charge that will   exercise a power of sale, though the holder of   any subsequent charge would need to redeem   any that have a higher priority to itself before   taking its own share. Any charges subsequent to   the one held by the lender that is taking   possession are overreached automatically - this   means that the lender does not have to repay   them and on registration of a purchase from a   lender it is not necessary to provide evidence of   discharge of any subsequent charges.

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Standard Conditions of Sale

The standard conditions of sale are a set of Law   Society produced contract conditions to which   the vast majority or residential sale contracts are   subject. A solicitor is not obliged to incorporate   the standard conditions of sale into any contract   he drafts but it is very rare to see a contract   which is not subject to them. The standard   conditions of sale cover most foreseeable   eventualities arising from a land transaction such   as what happens in the event of late completion,   if the buyer wants to occupy the property before   completion, who is responsible for insurance   etc.The version of the standard conditions of sale   currently in use is the standard conditions of sale   5th edition. The 5th edition is a relatively recent   release (at the time of writing) and some some   solicitors will still be using the 4th edition, so I've   retained the guide to the standard conditions of   sale 4th edition as a pdf file here. There are two   other editions, now very rarely encountered, the   National Conditions of Sale 20th Edition and the   Standard Conditions of Sale 3rd Edition which   are rarely encountered. We will be concentrating   on the 5th Edition. For those of you who are   familiar with the 4th edition, we'll flag up some of   the major changes. You can download the   Standard Conditions of Sale 5th Edition from our   conveyancing documents section by clicking on   the link, as well as the 4th Edition.

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Hidden Costs

Disbursements are cost which are payable as   part of a conveyancing transaction via your   conveyancer to third parties. These are costs   which do not form part of a conveyancer's fees.   The following are some of the more common   disbursements that you might have to pay during   a conveyancing transaction depending on   whether you are buying, selling or remortgaing:

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Sale

Official copy entries – copies of the register and   plan for your property from the Land Registry   plus any other documents, such as transfers or   conveyances, referred to in the register. The   register and plan cost £3.00 at the time of writing   and additional documents (of which there will   typically be just one or two) cost £5.00 each.   Additionally, if the property is leasehold:   Copy lease – this will cost £11.00 if available   electronically or £23.00 if not.   Landlord's information pack – there certain   questions which all buyers will raise of your   landlord via your conveyancer and your landlord   will almost always charge a fee for replying. The   level of the fee is not fixed and will typically range   from £50 - £300 depending on the landlord.

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Purchase

Searches – these are the standard enquiries that   your conveyancer will raise with the local   authority, water authority, coal authority (if the   property is in a coal mining area) etc. The cost   will range from something like £100 - £300   depending on which searches are required, the   area the property is in and who the searches are   carried out with   Land Registration Fee – this is the fee payable to   the Land Registry for registering the change of   ownership. The Land Registry charge on a scale   based on the purchase price. The fee starts from   £50 and goes right the way up to £900 for the   most expensive properties. Your conveyancer   will be able to tell you what the the fee will be   once you tell them the purchase price   Pre-completion searches – it will be necessary to   do an OS1, at a cost of £3.00 plus, if you are   buying with a mortgage, a bankruptcy search at a   cost of £2 per purchaser.   Stamp Duty Land Tax – this is a tax payable on   land purchases. Your conveyancer will be able to   tell you how much tax you will pay once you tell   them the purchase price   Additionally, if the property is leasehold:   Notice of assignment and charge – it will be   necessary following completion to serve a notice   of change of ownership on the landlord, who will   usually charge a fee for receipting the notice.   The fee will vary from landlord to landlord.   Generally it will be in the range £50 - £150 but   there is no fixed minimum or maximum   Other leasehold fees – as well as notice of   assignment and charge, there may be a   requirement to enter into a deed of covenant,   transfer a share certificate or obtain a certificate   of compliance, all which may attract a fee which   will be variable depending on the landlord

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Remortgage

Official copy entries – copies of the register and   plan for your property from the Land Registry   plus any other documents, such as transfers or   conveyances, referred to in the register. The   register and plan cost £3.00 at the time of writing   and additional documents (of which there will   typically be just one or two) cost £5.00 each.   Search Indemnity Insurance – most lenders,   where the transaction is a remortgage, will   accept search insurance in lieu of searches. The   cost of the insurance will depend on the amount   borrowed under the mortgage

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Other Costs

Land Registration Fee – this is the fee payable to   the Land Registry for registering the new   mortgage. The Land Registry charge on a scale   based on the amount borrowed. The fee starts   from £40. Your conveyancer will be able to tell   you what the the fee will be once you tell them   the purchase price   Pre-completion searches – it will be necessary to   do an OS1, at a cost of £3.00 plus a bankruptcy   search at a cost of £2 per borrower.   Additionally, if leasehold:   Notice of charge – it will be necessary following   completion to serve a notice of the new mortgage   on the landlord, who will usually charge a fee for   receipting the notice. The fee will vary from   landlord to landlord. Generally it will be in the   range £50 - £150 but there is no fixed minimum   or maximum   Transfer of Equity   Official copy entries – copies of the register and   plan for your property from the Land Registry   plus any other documents, such as transfers or   conveyances, referred to in the register. The   register and plan cost £3.00 at the time of writing   and additional documents (of which there will   typically be just one or two) cost £5.00 each.   Land Registration Fee – this is the fee payable to   the Land Registry for registering the transfer. The   Land Registry charge on a scale based on the   amount borrowed. The fee starts from £50. Your   conveyancer will be able to tell you what the the   fee will be once you tell them the consideration   Stamp Duty Land Tax – this is a tax payable on   land transfers. Your conveyancer will be able to   tell you how much tax you will pay once the   consideration is calculated. The calculation of   stamp duty for a transfer of equity can be   complex and it is not always possible to calculate   at the outset   Additionally, if leasehold:   Notice of assignment – it will be necessary   following completion to serve a notice of change   of ownership on the landlord, who will usually   charge a fee for receipting the notice. The fee will   vary from landlord to landlord. Generally it will be   in the range £50 - £150 but there is no fixed   minimum or maximum   Other leasehold fees – as well as notice of   assignment, there may be a requirement to enter   into a deed of covenant, transfer a share   certificate or obtain a certificate of compliance, all   which may attract a fee which will be variable   depending on the landlord   Please note that where any exact fees are   quoted in this article they are believed to   accurate at the time of writing but no warranty as   to accuracy is intended and no such warranty   should be implied. Furthermore the costs are   subject to change in future and this article has   not been update to reflect any such   changes.Whichever conveyancer does the work,   the cost of disbursements will be broadly   uniform. Some conveyancers will include the   usual disbursements in their quotes and some   will not It is a good idea therefore, when making   comparisons, to strip away the disbursements   and look just at the conveyancing fees.

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Completion Day Order of Events

The buyer's conveyancer should ensure that he   has both the mortgage funds (if a mortgage is   required) and funds from his client no later than   the working day before completion. This is   because the funds will most likely be transferred   by CHAPS, so that the sender can only   guarantee that they will arrive before close of   business but not that they will arrive in time for   completion to take place on time. Even when the   funds are being sent by BACS, which is   guaranteed by 9am, if there is a problem and the   funds are not going to arrive on time it is surely   better that this comes to light the day before   completion rather than on the day of completion   itself. Nonetheless some conveyancers still insist   on ordering funds to arrive on the day of   completion.As soon as he has all the funds in his   possession the buyer's conveyancer should   immediately forward the funds necessary to   complete the purchase to the seller's   conveyancer. Technically the seller does not   have to vacate until the latest time for completion   stated in the contract (which unless the contract   has a special condition varying that time, will be   2pm), in practice however the seller will usually   vacate as soon as his conveyancer receives the   funds, provided that he is not still packing of   course. If the seller himself has an onward   purchase then the funds should be immediately   sent on to his seller's conveyancers.

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Releasing the Keys to the Purchaser

Unless some alternative arrangement is made   then the keys for each property will usually be   handed to the estate agent once the seller has   moved out. The estate agent must hold them   until he receives a call from the seller's   conveyancer to confirm that the funds have been   received and the matter completed. That call   should be made as soon as possible after the   funds are received. The estate agent should   under no circumstances release the keys to the   purchaser until he is authorised to do so by the   seller's conveyancer (or the seller himself).

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Late Completion

If the funds are not received by the seller's   conveyancer by the latest time for completion as   stated in the contract then the buyer is in breach   of the contract and this then entitles the seller to   serve a Notice to Complete (see below).   Similarly, if the funds are delivered on time but   the seller has not vacated by the latest time then   the Buyer may serve notice. Late completions   are however often beyond anyone's control,   particularly if there is a long chain, and it is   considered bad form to serve notice unless   completion is so late that it prevents either the   late transaction or the seller's onward transaction   completing on the day.

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Leapfrogging

Leapfrogging is the term used to describe the   practice of bypassing one or more of the parties   in the chain with the funds on completion and is   worth considering where it appears that   completion may be late. Ordinarily the funds are   passed along the chain from one firm of   conveyancers to the next in the chain in order.   When leapfrogging however, the conveyancer   who holds the funds will ask the next link in the   chain if they wish him to bypass them with the   funds. If he agrees he will give the conveyancer   who holds the funds the details of the link beyond   him so that he can then pass the funds straight   on. In the meantime any funds (such as   mortgage funds) being held by the link being   bypassed will be sent straight away, rather than   having to wait for sale proceeds to arrive with   him. For example, if the chain is A to B to C, and   A is holding the funds to complete with B but it is   approaching the cut off time for all parties to   send funds by CHAPS that day (usually around   15.30) he may say to B "do you wish me to send   the funds required to complete directly to C?". If   B agrees to this he will give A C's bank details   and reference etc and A will then transfer the   funds directly to C, thus cutting out one link in the   chain and saving time. In the meantime B will   usually need to send some additional funds to C   (for example he is receiving £100,000 from A for   his sale but buying from C for £150,000 with the   additional £50,000 coming from a mortgage) but   that transfer can now be made to C without   having to wait for the funds to arrive from A. It is   possible to bypass more than one link in this way   but for each additional link that is bypassed the   calculations of who should send how much   where become more complicated. It is still   perfectly possible however.There may be   occasions when the whole of the money held by   A should not be transferred to C, for example   where B is downsizing. Let's say A is buying from   B for £150,000 and B is buying from C for   £100,000. A will then need to send £100,000 to   C and £50,000 to B. Each CHAPS transfer   however costs money, and this therefore raises   the issue of who pays the extra fee (because A is   now sending two transfers instead of one). If the   delay in completion is the fault of A then it is   simple - A either pays or risks being penalised for   late completion. If however A himself only   received the funds from the party before him in   the chain after the contract time then he could   argue then he is not at fault and he does not care   if he is penalised for late completion since he will   simply pass the penalty on to the defaulting   party. There is no rule or precedent to say who   should pay in this situation and conveyancers   need to practical - a bank transfer fee will cost at   most £20 and could save a great amount of   upset and inconvenience for their clients, and   indeed a great amount of work since it could   avoid them being served with notice to   complete.It should be noted that conveyancers   can only send funds to other conveyancers in   this way. They cannot send monies directly to the   clients of other firms and cannot redeem   mortgages on behalf of people who are not their   clients.

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Completion on Undertaking

There will be times when one of the parties in the   chain is holding the funds but it is too late in the   day (i.e. after their bank's cut off time for sending   funds by CHAPS) to send the funds on to the   next party. In this situation it may be possible to   for that party to give an undertaking to the next   party in the chain (or even a party further along   the chain - see leapfrogging above) that he will   forward the funds the next day and the party to   whom the undertaking is given may agree that   completion can take place on that basis. This   means that the client of the conveyancer who is   holding the funds can move into the property on   the day. An undertaking can only be given   however if the conveyancer is actually holding   the funds, for example if he is waiting for funds   from his client or the mortgage lender or a party   further along the chain he cannot give an   undertaking even if he has been promised they   will arrive.In the situation the seller may still   demand interest under the contract. In particular,   if he has a mortgage to repay then he will most   likely demand the additional days' interest.

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Occupation by Buyer Under Licence

If completion cannot be achieved on the day, for   example if the funds are not released by the   mortgage lender or sent by the buyer, then the   seller may allow the buyer to occupy the property   under licence. The standard conditions of sale   set out the conditions of the licence (see   Standard Conditions). The seller is under no   obligation to allow the buyer to occupy.   Depending on the circumstances which have led   to the delay in completion the seller (or his   conveyancer) should seriously consider serving   Notice to Complete (see below) in order to avoid   a situation where the buyer does not use his best   endeavours to achieve completion because he is   already in the property and from his point of view   the matter is less urgent.

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Interest on Late Completion

In the event that completion is delayed beyond   the completion time the non-defaulting party may   charge the defaulting party interest on late   completion. Interest can be charged whether or   not Notice to Complete has been served. The   face of the contract will state the contract rate -   this is usually 4% or 5% above the base lending   rate of the seller's conveyancers' bank (most   banks' base rates match the Bank of England   bas rate). To work out the daily interest rate you   need to divide the purchase by 100 then multiply   it by the contract rate. You then divide this figure   by 365 (being the number of days in a year) to   get the daily rate of interest.Although either party   is entitled to charge interest in any instance   where there is late completion it is generally   accepted that it will only be charged where the   seller has suffered loss, for example if he is   charged additional mortgage interest or if he has   himself been charged interest on an onward   transaction.

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Notice to Complete

A notice to complete is served where either party   fails to complete by the completion time. It is   explained in more detail in "Standard Conditions"   but basically it is a notice saying that the   defaulting party must complete within 10 working   days otherwise the non-defaulting party may   rescind the contract.In most contracts there will   be a clause stating that the defaulting party is   obliged to pay the non-defaulting party's   conveyancer's fees for serving the notice. The   fee is usually around £100 - £150. For this   reason some firms will serve notice at the earliest   opportunity but thankfully most accept that it   should only be done where to not do so would   cause their client loss or put him at risk. For   example if notice has been served on a buyer   then he is liable to the seller for the interest and   notice to complete fee, even if the delay is   caused by his own seller. His conveyancer   should serve notice in this case, so that the   buyer can claim the notice fee back from his   seller. Alternatively if it is not certain that   completion will be imminent, for example if the   seller is having difficulty in evicting a tenant or if   the buyer has a problem with his mortgage, or   has moved in under licence, then notice should   be served so that the non-defaulting party cannot   be tied into the contract indefinitely.If notice is   served even though completion can still take   place on the day then this does not benefit the   client and ultimately, the fee the conveyancer   receives is often not worth involved in recovering   the funds. Furthermore it is often the   conveyancers who end up bearing the cost of the   notice and since it is quite usual to come across   the same conveyancers time and again, it is   likely then next time the conveyancer who serves   the notice is himself late in completing it will be   remembered.   Refusal by the Seller to Complete When Funds   are Received on the Day of Completion   It should be noted that unless there is a special   condition in the contract to the effect then the   seller is not entitled to refuse to complete   provided that he does receive the funds on the   day of completion, even if they are late. If they   are so late as to prevent him completing on an   onward transaction however than he may choose   to remain in the property regardless, so as to   avoid being homeless.

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Damage to the Property or to Fixtures, Fittings and Contents

If the buyer discovers on moving in that the   property is damaged or that items that should   have been left are missing, there is really little   that can be done. The seller is in breach of   contract, but enforcing it easier said than done.   Generally all that the buyer's conveyancer can   do is to ask the seller's conveyancer to contact   him and ask him to remedy the breach. In the   event that he does not the buyer should be   advised to seek litigation advice.

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Removal Firms and Booking a Move

When moving home, booking your removals   shouldn't be an afterthought. You need to plan it   because if something goes wrong you could be   looking at serious expense and inconvenience on   the day of completion.At the start of your   conveyancing transaction try to get at least3   quotes that you're happy with. You can't book   them at this stage as it will be too soon to know   what the final completion date will be.

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Exchanging Contracts and Making the Booking

Your conveyancer will tell you when he is ready   to exchange contracts and will ask you for your   authority to exchange with completion for a   particular date. Before giving authority call your   preferred company to check they will be available   on that date. If not then try the other companies   on your list. If no one is available find the nearest   available date and suggest this to your   conveyancer as an alternative completion date.   Remember that completion cannot take place on   a weekend or bank holiday. Once contracts are   exchanged you can safely book your   removals.Sometimes your conveyancer will hope   to exchange on a particular day but for whatever   reason it won't take place on that day. He should   seem your authority on each new day and before   giving it you should check your removals are   available.

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What Time to Book Your Removals?

This is a tricky question because your   conveyancer can't really say what time   completion will take place. You should however   aim to be out of your property by 1pm and   assume you will have the keys to your new place   by 2pm. You should probably ensure you have   your movers til at least 3pm though as   completions often run late. Otherwise you risk   that they will have to leave for another booking or   that you will get penalty charges. Don't have   them arrive too late though otherwise you may   not be able to hand over possession of your   property on time and may be sued by your buyer.

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Make Provision for a Failed Completion

It is rare that completion won't take place on the   appointed day where contracts have been   exchanged in advance but unfortunately it does   happen occasionally. To ensure you are as well   prepared as you can be, you should think about   where you might spend a night or two if you had   to move out but couldn't get into your new home   and if necessary research some hotels in the   area you are moving to, remembering that if you   intend to recover the cost from your seller or   conveyancer you need to keep your losses   reasonable, so no staying at the Dorchester for   the weekend! You should keep some spare   clothes and other essentials (toothpaste and   such) with you as "hand luggage".Equally   important is storing your furniture. You should try   to book a removal company that has short term   storage facilities and check the rates they charge   in advance.

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Be Extra Careful During Busy Periods

Like any business removal companies have   busy periods when it's harder to find a firm   that is available. Typically this will be around   bank holiday weekends and in the run up to   Christmas. If you are moving at these times   you may need to have longer between   exchange and completion in order to be sure   of being able to get a removal slot or risk   booking before exchange

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