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Conveyancing myths - sorting the facts from the fiction

View profile for Victoria La Mon
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As with any area of law there are some common misconceptions regarding some of the practical aspects of the conveyancing process, so to help dispel some of these myths, our conveyancing team have put their heads together and come up with a collection of the most common misconceptions that they have come across to help sort the facts from the fiction!

I have to agree to whatever completion date my buyers want, don’t I?

No, the completion date must be mutually agreed between all parties to the transaction. Sometimes one party in the chain may have a requirement for a specific date, so this should be discussed at the onset of the matter, otherwise, dates are normally proposed and provisionally agreed upon as the matter progresses.

I’ve been told that I can’t sell my property unless it’s been registered at the Land Registry.

Although it is definitely easier to review a contract pack that has been registered, an experienced conveyancer should have no problems reviewing an unregistered contract pack and raising any necessary enquiries relating to the documents provided.      

Once I have signed the contract it's legally binding, isn’t it?

No, the signed contract is held by your conveyancer until the matter is ready to exchange, at which point you will be contacted to provide your authority to exchange. At any point up to exchange you can decide you don’t want to proceed without any legal ramifications, although there may be abortive costs incurred with your conveyancer.

My mortgage lender's valuation is the same as a survey, right?

No, most mortgage lender's valuations are carried out online (without ever seeing the property) or as a drive by valuation and they are for the benefit of the mortgage lender rather than you.  A survey that you arrange is invaluable as the surveyor inspects the property and the report they prepare can reveal issues that you might not be aware of.

Conveyancing always takes a really long time!

While it is true that conveyancing can take a long time if there is a lengthy chain of properties or there are unusual or complex issues to resolve, it is in the interests of all parties (including the conveyancers) to get the matter progressed and completed as quickly as possible which can sometimes be less than six weeks!

You can just get an indemnity policy to cover any defects.

Indemnity policies can be a very useful tool; however, they cannot be used to rectify every issue and should be used as a backup as opposed to the initial solution.

I’ve been told that I have to use the conveyancing firm that the agent/mortgage broker recommends.

Often mortgage brokers or estate agents recommend a conveyancer or legal firm that they are familiar with, or have worked with before, however, it is your choice as to who you wish to instruct to act for you, so you are not obliged to go with their suggestion. Also be mindful that some estate agents work on a financial referral relationship with certain legal firms, so like any other service we would recommend that you check reviews before you instruct someone.

I’m a cash buyer as I don’t have a property to sell.

You are only a cash buyer if you are buying without the aid of a mortgage, even if you don’t have another property to sell.

I only have to take out building insurance on the property I’m buying after we complete it, don’t I?

The standard contract conditions require that the buyer must insure the property from the exchange of contracts as the property is at your risk from that date.  This is only not applicable if the contract is varied; if you are buying a new build property where the developer will normally continue to insure until completion, or, if you are buying a flat where the building insurance is dealt with on a block policy.

Isn’t the deposit I need on exchange the same as the deposit referred to by my lender/broker?

No, and this often causes confusion, particularly for first-time buyers.  When buying your first home you will normally have saved or been gifted some money to use in conjunction with your mortgage funds and this is generally called the “mortgage deposit”. This sum could be any amount.

When your conveyancer is ready to exchange, they will ask you to provide them with an “exchange deposit” which is usually 10% of the purchase price, so while you may have saved £50,000 for a purchase of £300,000, you are only being asked to provide £30,000 on exchange. The balance of funds will then be required from you prior to completion.

We hope you have found our conveyancing myth-busting useful, but if you do have any questions on any of the points we have covered, or any other conveyancing matters do contact our team who will be happy to help you further.