Frequently asked questions
Q. Why do I need a Solicitor to buy or sell a house?
A. The buying and selling of a house (or indeed a commercial property) is quite a complex transaction. Lots of different tasks are undertaken by a solicitor, but our primary role is:-
- Checking the legal title - a house, unlike other types of property (e.g. a TV, bicycles etc.) cannot be "owned" simply by possession. A house cannot be picked up and carried away so a different means of proving ownership is needed. This is where the “legal title” comes in. A Solicitor will carefully check the legal title to ensure that the person claiming to be the seller is indeed the legal owner and is able to sell it. In addition, the Solicitor will establish whether there are any mortgages over the property and, if so, ensure that they are repaid.
- Carrying out searches - searches are needed to ensure that it is safe to go ahead and buy the property. Nowadays, there are a wide variety of searches including local authority searches (checks as to planning permission, repayable grants, maintenance of roadways etc.) drainage searches (information regarding water supply and sewers etc), environment searches (establish whether the property is situated upon contaminated land etc), planning application searches (indicate whether neighbours are planning extensions or new builds which might affect the property being bought), flood risk searches.
- Advising generally on all aspects of the transaction - this includes checking your mortgage offer (if you are buying with a mortgage) to ensure that the funds will be available on the completion date, advising you on the contract of sale and the specific obligations it imposes.
- It is fair to say that the role of the Solicitor is central to the whole process of buying a property as we are the contact point for all of the other professionals and processes which are involved. The contract, title information, mortgage offer and searches all come to the Solicitors office and we then make sense of it all, explain it to you in a way which is understandable and guide you through the process of signing the contract and agreeing a completion date (moving date).
Q. How much will it cost me?
A. Right at the outset we always aim to give our clients a clear, understandable estimate as to the costs and disbursements which are payable. As our own fees and many of the disbursements vary depending upon the price of the property it is not possible for us to give a detailed estimate within this website.
Q. How long will it all take?
A. This is always an important question! The answer is that the timescale really does vary tremendously depending upon the circumstances. We have had transactions go through in as little at 48 hours (eg. where there is just one seller and one buyer - i.e. no chain - and where no mortgage is required). However, in most transactions a mortgage is required and this usually means a short delay whilst the offer of mortgage is issued. In situations where there are “chains” (i.e. a number of different parties and properties involved) then it is necessary to wait until all parties are ready and this, inevitably, increases the timescale.
Q. What is stamp duty?
A. Stamp duty is short for "Stamp Duty Land Tax" (SDLT). SDLT is payable by a buyer of a property if the purchase price exceeds £125,000. Between £125,001 up to £250,000, the SDLT rate is 1% and the 1% is charged upon the entire purchase price - e.g., if one buys at £200,000 then the SDLT charge will be £2,000.
From £250,001 up to £500,000, the rate is 3% of the entire purchase price, between £500,001 up to £1million the rate is 4% and over £1million it is 5%.
Please note that there is currently an exemption in place for first time buyers whereby the 1% rate is not payable - i.e., if a first time buyer buys a property up to the price of £250,000, no SDLT is payable.
As its name suggests, stamp duty land tax is simply a tax levied by the Government on the buyers of property. Due to the nature of land registration requirements, SDLT is routinely “collected” and paid to HM Revenue and Customs as part of the conveyancing process. A stamp duty land tax return has to be completed and signed and submitted to HM Revenue and Customs for every transaction where the purchase price exceeds £40,000. Again, our estimate of fees and expenses include all costs incurred in connection with the stamp duty land tax return.
Q. I understand I may have to pay large amounts of money to you as part of the conveyancing process. What safeguards or protection is in place to protect me?
A. This firm, in common with all firms of solicitors, are very highly regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). Any monies paid to us are paid into a client’s account which is completely separate from our own trading account. Monies held in solicitor’s clients account are protected by the “Solicitors Indemnity Fund” which is operated and maintained by the SRA and which provides full compensation to clients who are the subject of any dishonesty on the part of a solicitor’s firm.
Paul Rudd Solicitors is a trading name of Grimsby Solicitors Limited (company Regn No 7179555) which is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 535236)
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