Five frequently asked conveyancing questions

It is widely accepted that moving to a new house is amongst the life moments likely to cause the most stress. When there is as much uncertainty in the world as there is at the moment, it is only going to be more stressful; however, with schemes such as the stamp duty holiday, there are some positives in moving and the residential market is currently buoyant.

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Houses are moving very quickly, which gives sellers a strong position for negotiation. They can also pick buyers who are proceedable. Whether this is your first home or you have moved many times, there are always questions.

How long does the process take?

As a general rule, the process takes about 8 to 12 weeks, although a very simple purchase can take less time just as a more complicated one could take longer. There are lots of factors to consider, not least the chain and how many are in it.

When do you contact a conveyancer?

Instruct a conveyancer as soon as you have made the decision to sell or buy a property. They will be able to advise you on likely conveyancing costs and you will be able to share their details with the estate agent as soon as you have an accepted offer.

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What about applying for a mortgage?

As soon as you have made a decision to buy, you can start shopping around for a mortgage and get an offer accepted in principle. If you are ‘proceedable’ with a mortgage offer on the table, you are more attractive to vendors. Once you have secured an offer, it is likely to be valid for six months before you will need to apply again. The HomeOwners Alliance website has lots of useful information.

What happens if you change my mind?

Under the current system, anyone can change their mind and back out at any point before the exchange on contracts. This could be the buyer or the vendor, which is another reason why a shorter chain can go in your favour. You are still potentially liable for conveyancing costs depending on how far down the line you get.

Once contracts have been exchanged, each side is legally bound by the agreement and the details within it regarding the price and date for completion. This is usually a week or two later but can be on the same day as exchange.

Is joint ownership a good idea?

Joint ownership can sometimes make buying a home more accessible. If you buy with another person, legal ownership is shared, as is the equity. You can also buy as tenants in common with unequal shares and a declaration of trust.