Articles

Published by: Richard Atkins

Busting Legal Myths in Conveyancing

Moving house is not something most of us do on a regular basis and the conveyancing process is not always familiar even to those who have moved before. 

There is a lot of hot air talked about conveyancing, usually by those who have no first-hand knowledge of it!  As a result, myths have grown up confusing people who are embarking on a move.  Here are the top ten myths in conveyancing: - 

  • There is always “an exchange date” you can plan for. 

The reality is there is never an “exchange date’’ until it has happened.  Exchange of contracts can take place once all parties have resolved all issues and the buyer and seller have signed the Contract and agreed a completion date. 

  • Exchange and completion can take place simultaneously and it will speed up the process. 

It is possible to exchange and complete a transaction simultaneously but it usually delays an exchange because the work which needs to be done between exchange and completion has to be done in advance thus delaying exchange.  Mortgage lenders require minimum periods of notice to produce funds and again unless both parties are cash buyers this needs to be taken into account.  In reality as simultaneous exchange and completion rarely speeds up the process. 

  • “I can use my mortgage funds to provide the deposit”. 

Mortgage funds are not available until completion and therefore the deposit has to be provided from your own funds or, if you are selling, from the deposit on your sale. 

  • “It is always the left-hand boundary that belongs to the house”. 

The truth is that there is no rule about which boundary belongs.   Sometimes the deeds specifically set out responsibility for boundaries but often they do not and although there can be a number of indications as to boundary responsibility there are no firm rules. 

  • “Once I sign the Contract it is legally binding”. 

Solicitors usually get clients to sign Contracts in advance and lodge with the solicitor until an exchange of contracts takes place.  It is only on exchange of contracts that everything becomes legally binding. 

  • An emailed Contract is sufficient to deal with exchange. 

A Contract needs a wet ink signature and the original must be in the hands of the solicitor in order to exchange unless authority is given to the solicitor to sign on behalf of the client. 

  • A Local Search is a search of the local area. 

A Local Search is a search of the Local Authority Registers which relates exclusively to the property being searched and would not, for example, show Planning Permissions for neighbouring or nearby land or property. 

  • The period between exchange and completion is four weeks. 

Nowadays there is no requirement for a fixed period between exchange and completion but as mentioned above lenders usually require a minimum of five working days’ notice to come up with the mortgage funds and there are also a number of other legal tasks to perform between exchange and completion.  Mostly there is a gap of two or three weeks between exchange and completion and this allows buyers and sellers time to finalise their own moving arrangements. 

  • Solicitors don’t need to know where the money comes from to buy the house. 

Nowadays solicitors are under an obligation to carry out a number of checks as to a source of funds for a property purchase and full details must be provided. 

  •  “I don’t need a survey if the property is covered by NHBC”. 

Whilst a structural warranty is valuable it is not a substitute for having a survey.  If there are defects in the property they may not be covered by the warranty and even if they are you may find additional costs arise let alone the inconvenience and stress of having to deal with a claim. 

Separating fact from fiction in conveyancing is part of our job.  Nothing is a “silly question” when buying a house and our Conveyancing Team are always happy to explain the process and help dispel some of these myths.