Frequently asked questions for buying and selling a property

How long will it take to move into my new home?

Most conveyancing transactions are completed within around 18-22 weeks (due to current market conditions and the impact of Covid-19 the national average is currently 19 weeks). The length of time your transaction takes will depend on whether there are any delays beyond our control. Your lawyer will discuss this with you and aim to give you a realistic idea of how long your conveyancing should take at the outset.

Transaction timescales can depend on a number of factors which include:

  • A long chain – the number of homes being bought or sold and  waiting for everyone in the chain to reach the point of exchange;
  • Delay in search results from the Local Authority; and
  • Awaiting a mortgage offer from the lender.

How do Estate Agents help during the transaction?

  • Tracking the position of each person in the chain;
  • Helping to agree a completion date along the chain;
  • Chasing the solicitors or other parties, so as to help move the transaction on quickly; and
  • Helping with any negotiations you may have about fixtures and fittings or negotiations with the other party.

What are Disbursements?

These are fees or expenses that are paid for you by us to third parties. As an example this will be the Local Authority searches. All disbursements will be clearly explained to you by a member of our Conveyancing team.

Is it possible to Exchange and Complete on the same day?

This is not usual, but may be possible if:

  1. All the parties in the chain agree to this;
  2. We have all the money that is required to complete the transaction; and
  3. We have received all our search results.

What are cleared funds?

These are funds that are cleared through our bank. For instance, once a cheque is banked the funds will be cleared in seven working days. We are not able to use this money until the funds are available. You must therefore make sure that any money we request for the exchange or completion is sent to us in sufficient time.

Bank drafts guarantee the money will come through to us but otherwise work like cheques. Please let us know if you wish to telegraphically transfer the money straight to our account. This method usually transfers the money on the day it is processed.

What should I do about the house keys (new and old)?

If you are selling:

The keys are usually left with the agents for the buyer to collect. You can however make personal arrangements with the buyer to hand over the keys direct. If personal arrangements are made, you must not hand over the keys until we tell you that we have received the money.

If you are buying:

The keys can be picked up from the agents unless you have made arrangements to receive the keys direct from the seller. If the agents hold the keys, they will only release them to you once they know that the seller’s solicitor has received the money.

When should I arrange the buildings insurance for my new home?

When you are purchasing a property the contract will usually state that the property is at your risk from the date of the contract. This means that you will be obliged to complete your purchase even if the property has suffered substantial, complete damage or destruction between exchange and completion. It is therefore essential that you ensure that the Buildings Insurance for the property is taken out before you exchange contracts. For example properties with a history of flooding may not be accepted by insurers. It may be necessary to investigate home insurance policies from different providers so that there is adequate cover in place prior to the exchange of contracts.

Please note that in some circumstances it may be that you will not be able (or wish) to proceed with the property purchase if you are unable to obtain adequate home insurance.

If you are taking out a mortgage, the lender will have certain requirements as to the risks covered e.g. the value for which to insure the property and the excess on the insurance. We will let you know what these are when we receive your mortgage offer.

The lender will have recommended insurance arrangements, if you intend to make your own arrangements you must tell us straight away.

As a seller do I need to maintain buildings insurance until completion?

Yes, you are obliged to hand over the property in the same condition as it was at exchange.

I have arranged life assurance – when should it start?

If you are purchasing life insurance to cover a mortgage then it should be put in place when contracts are exchanged as you will then be obliged to pay for the property.

Is this a good time to make a Will?

Buying or selling a property is the biggest financial transaction made in most lifetimes. Having a Will provides additional security to your partner and loved ones if anything were to happen to you and your Estate becomes ‘intestate’. It is therefore advisable for everyone to make a Will at this point to avoid potentially creating additional problems in the future. Some people are reluctant to make a Will, either because they do not like contemplating their own death or because they think it is something that they can put off until they are older.

We have a dedicated team of lawyers who will be able to advise and prepare a Will for you; please ask a member of the Property team for further details.

Why can there be long completion dates?

You need to consider any delays which could occur with the time between exchange and completion.

These could cause complications to your mortgage offer:

  • Mortgage offers are usually only valid for period of 6 months from the date of the offer;
  • There could be no guarantee that the mortgage lender would grant an extension – if contracts have been exchanged you would be legally bound to proceed with the purchase; and
  • The property’s value may be reassessed by the mortgage company and depending on the market the property’s value could come down or go up.

Again, if Contracts have been exchanged, you would be legally bound to proceed with the purchase. Make sure that the length of any mortgage offer you receive is the same as any anticipated completion date.

How can I protect myself against online fraud?

Online fraud is on the increase specifically in property transactions. To help keep yourself safe from this threat please view our advice on protecting yourself.

For further information and advice on buying or selling a property please contact our conveyancing team at .

Request a quote

For further help and advice on the above or to request a quote please contact your local Conveyancing Team on:

  • Peterborough  01733 882800
  • Huntingdon     01480 411224
  • Oundle            01832 273506
  • St Neots          01480 702207
  • Cambridge      01223 463183

Or email the Residential Conveyancing Team directly at:

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