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Conveyancing – frequently asked questions

Once the buyer and the seller (and any other buyers and sellers in a property “chain”) have finalised the legal work, signed their respective contracts and a completion date has been agreed, the solicitors will exchange contracts. The exchange process takes place over the phone under a prescribed formula and the date and time of exchange are recorded by both conveyancers and it is at that point that the contracts become legally binding.

Both you and we need to be certain on exchange that you will be in a position to complete on the date agreed. If you decide you do not want to move after exchange of contracts, or you fail to complete for any reason, you can be sued for breach of contract by other parties in the chain. Any deposit you may have paid on exchange of contracts will be forfeited by the seller if you fail to complete a purchase after contracts have been exchanged.

This is the question asked of us most often, and probably one of the most difficult questions to answer, as it often depends upon so many factors.  These can be broken down into two stages: information collection and information analysis. Information in both cases can be further divided into information concerning the property itself, (such as the legal information supplied by a seller’s solicitor), information to do with the area around the property (such as the results of searches that are carried out of the records held by the local, water or coal authorities – amongst others) and information about the source of your finances (be that the conditions your mortgage lender attaches to your borrowing, or the provenance of your deposit funds).

Of course, if you are selling, all of these issues only apply to you indirectly, as your purchaser will be carrying out the same processes on the documentation collected by their solicitors, much of which will be provided to them by us. Our responsibility will then be to assist your purchaser’s solicitor in satisfying their analysis of that information.

Finally, bear in mind that the longer the chain of transactions, the greater the number of people that are simultaneously carrying out similar information gathering and investigation

As a general guide an average transaction may take 8-12 weeks to exchange contracts with completion following a week or two later.  However, it may happen more quickly or slowly depending upon the individual circumstances.  We will do everything that we can to progress your transaction as quickly as possible but we cannot offer any guarantee about how long it will take and you should not believe anyone else that does!

Fortunately, at O’Neill Patient you are in the hands of experts with a wealth of experience in navigating the unnecessarily complex issues thrown up by the English & Welsh system of conveyancing and land law, so that your move will be as efficient and stress-free as possible.

Always remember the golden rule is “let the buyer beware” so (provided you have not been misled) you will be liable for any problems that you discover after exchange of contracts.

If you are obtaining a mortgage a surveyor will inspect the property on behalf of the lender. Although his report will give you an indication as to whether he thinks the property is worth the amount that you have asked to borrow you will probably not be able to rely on it if things go wrong. In that case you may not have any right to sue the surveyor should any negligence on his part be proved. However, if the surveyor also prepares a report or survey for you then, if he is negligent, you would be able to sue him. The usual building society or bank valuation is not a full survey and the level of inspection varies between each building society/bank surveyor.

For an extra fee you will usually be offered the option to arrange for the same valuer to carry out a more detailed “Home Buyers Report”. This can be relied upon by you so if at a later date you find a problem that is not mentioned in the report you will have some redress against the valuer. It might be possible, when making initial contact with your mortgage company, for them to arrange for their surveyor to carry out a House Buyers Report or full survey so that only one surveyor need be engaged.

If the property is quite old and you are particularly concerned about its condition you can obtain a full structural survey report which is even more detailed.

Your mortgagee or the person arranging the mortgage for you should advise you as to the type of valuations and surveys available.  For your own protection we must advise that you should have a full survey.

It is best to avoid booking your removals until after contracts have been exchanged because before that time the moving date is not definite and you may end up losing money if the date changes after you have made the booking.

No. O’Neill Patient offers a fast and convenient service that comes direct to you no matter where you are in the world. As long as the property you are buying, selling or remortgaging is in England or Wales, then we can act for you. All the paperwork for your transactions will be sent via email or post (as you wish) directly to you. You can then review and sign all the relevant documents at your convenience before returning them to us. In the future, it may even be possible for you to attach electronic signatures to your forms and return your documents electronically! Of course, if you do happen to live locally to us, we would be pleased to receive you at our offices in Stockport.

Completion is when the money is transferred from solicitor to solicitor and it is when you can get your keys and move into your new home. You must also fully vacate your sale property on completion.

Chancel Repair Liability dates back to medieval times, when Churches (or more specifically their Chancels) were maintained by wealthy land owners Since medieval times, what used to be large estates of land have now been broken down in to many thousands of privately owned properties, yet the potential for Chancel Repair Liabilities has been passed down to successive owners of that land. These obligations will not appear on your deeds, and the cost of discharging this liability, if there is one, can run into the thousands of pounds.

Thankfully these archaic laws are changing, and once October 2013 has passed, unless the Church has expressed a specific interest in your property (by noting their interest with the Land Registry) you or your property will no longer be at risk. Of course, in the meantime, there is an increased risk of the Church investigating potential liabilities for properties within their parishes.

O’Neill Patient has a longstanding and successful relationship with some of the biggest insurers in the industry, and can offer you competitively priced protection against these costs as a matter of course if you instruct us to handle your purchase.


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