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Buying a Home

Practice Area Specialist:

Hanah Wright

Hanah has a strong background in property work and has a particular interest in commercial freehold and leasehold premises, sales of development land, business transfers for medical partnerships and surgery relocations, whilst also carrying out residential property work and domestic conveyancing. Hanah also has several years experience in private client work.

Whether you are a first time buyer looking to make your first step onto the property ladder, a buyer in a chain or a buyer looking to downsize, Stillwells’ experienced team of senior conveyancing solicitors is on hand to guide you through the process.

We understand that buying a property can often be a very stressful time, which is why we seek to alleviate this as much as possible through excellent communication and providing direct contact details for the solicitor handling the work.

We recognise that every property is different and carry out all the necessary checks on your behalf including the title to the property to ensure it is saleable in the future. We will keep you informed at every step of the way, including a written report and information.  We can see you in person, write to you by post, email or contact by telephone – whatever is easiest.

With over 35 years of experience, Stillwells’ team of senior property lawyers has a wide breadth of residential property experience covering first time properties to large country and equestrian estates.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process of transferring ownership of property or land from one person to another.

How long will my conveyancing take?

This will depend on a number of factors, such as:

  • The length of the ‘chain’ – that is the number of other transactions linked together. A longer chain will require greater coordination between all the parties involved to ensure that target dates are met.
  • Whether a mortgage is required, and if an offer is in place.
  • Whether the other parties to the transaction are willing to move quickly.

If a transaction goes ahead without any major problems then it can often be completed in around 6 weeks. This is only a very general guide. Transactions often take longer than this, but some can be quicker.

We will do everything possible to ensure a quick and efficient transaction and to work with you on proposed moving dates.

What do I do if there is a problem? How do I contact you and what hours are your offices open?

Our offices are open Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.15pm. You will have a direct contact line to the solicitor handling your matter and can call or email us if you have any questions or would like an update. Equally, we are proactive with you, and will be in frequent contact to keep you fully up to speed with now things are progressing. We know it can be a stressful time, and being kept in the dark can make things even more fraught. Remember, we are not a call centre, so you are assured of our personal attention.

Do I have to visit your office?

Not necessarily – more and more cases are being handled exclusively online, over the phone, by post and via email. Let us know which way you prefer to deal with things.

What are disbursements?

Disbursements are expenses which are incurred on your behalf during the conveyancing process such as Land Registry Fees and property searches. We will give you a full breakdown of any likely disbursements.

I need to complete as quickly as possible – can you help?

We know that some property transfers need to happen more quickly than the standard 6-8 week timeframe. If you let us know from the outset, we can pull out all the stops to complete in a shorter time. Providing that other parties are equally motivated, we can usually work with our clients to meet their deadlines.

What is 'exchange of contracts'?

Exchange of contracts means the transactions has become legally binding. On exchange of contracts the completion date (or moving date) is confirmed. Contracts are exchanged between solicitors, on the telephone. You do not need to be present for us to exchange contracts.

When can I book my removals?
It is best to avoid booking your removals until after contracts have been exchanged. Before exchange of contracts, the moving date is not definite and you may end up losing money if the position changes after you have arranged the removals.
What happens on the completion date?

On completion the following will happen:

  •  The buyer’s solicitors send the money to the seller’s solicitors which is needed to complete the purchase.
  • If you are buying, we will arrange for your mortgage lender to send us your mortgage money on the completion date.
  • If you are selling, we will pay off your mortgage when we receive the money from your buyer’s solicitor.
  • When the money has changed hands, keys must be handed into or collected from the estate agents (depending on whether you are selling or buying). We will let you know when it is key hand-over time.
Do I need a survey?

If you are obtaining a mortgage your lender will have the property inspected to see if it is suitable for them to lend against. It is important to realise that this is a basic valuation aimed only at protecting the lender’s investment.

For an extra cost you have the option of having a survey done which will provide you with more detailed information about the property, and it may highlight problems with the property about which you should be aware.

It is often advisable to have a more detailed survey carried out on older properties, or simply if you want the additional peace of mind that a detailed survey can bring.

We are unmarried and I am putting a bigger deposit into the property. Can I protect it?

If you are putting unequal amounts into the property the person who is paying the larger amount can protect that money by a “trust deed”.

This is a legal document which sets out how much each person has contributed to the cost of the property and the share that they will each receive from the proceeds of the property in the event of separation. For example, it can state that if the house is sold, the person who put in the deposit gets that amount first, before the remainder of the value is shared out.

I’ve had a quote from you. Are there any hidden charges?

We want to provide transparent pricing and will always quote you honestly. A quote for Conveyancing is made up of two parts, the legal fee (our fee for doing the work) and the disbursements (expenses incurred on your behalf, such as searches, Land Registry fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax, if applicable).

Fees and disbursements will only ever change if something comes to light during the Conveyancing process that was unforeseen at the time the quote was given. We will always contact you before incurring additional expenses on your behalf.

What will I be charged if my transaction falls through?

If your transaction falls through we will charge a proportion of our fee which relates to the amount of work we have carried out, therefore the cost to you will depend on what stage the transaction failed. Any expenses (disbursements) already incurred on your behalf will also be payable.