3. conveyancing





    Once you have decided on a property, you will need to make an offer. Remember that properties do not have fixed price tags - you can make substantial savings with some skilled negotiation over the price.

    Normally, the opening is offer is about 5%-10% lower than the asking price, and the parties take this as a starting point for further offers and reductions in asking price until an agreement is reached.

    Once your offer has been accepted, it must be made formally, in writing, and subject to certain terms and conditions. Ensure that the seller's agent and seller understand the terms of your offer.

    Your offer must be "subject to contract and to survey". This means that you are not legally bound to proceed until a survey has been satisfactorily completed and signed contracts have been exchanged.

    Specify what fixtures and fittings you want to be included, and what work on the property you want to be undertaken before the sale has gone through.

    It is a good idea to demand that the property be taken off the market as soon as your offer has been accepted, to avoid the danger of gazumping.

    However, remember that until contracts have been exchanged the sale agreement is not legally binding. Once your offer has been accepted, either you or the seller can pull out at any time until the exchange of contracts.

    Once the sellers have accepted your offer, you exchange solicitors' details with them. Your solicitor will then contact the seller's solicitor and receive the draft contract.

    The draft contract contains details of prices, the two parties, other information about the transaction such as deposit and information from the seller's title deeds.

    It is the solicitor or conveyancer's job to make all the necessary enquiries to ensure that there are no reasons to walk away from the property. The main standard searches are:

    - check ownership and right of the seller to sell the property;

    - Local Authority searches: checks with the local authority that there are no plans for building major roads nearby or other constructions for which you are not informed;

    - check boundaries and rights of way, as well as existing restrictions (for example check whether the deeds specify that certain things are not allowed-like keeping pet - or painting the house in a different colour than the other buildings in the street);

    - whether any additions or alterations that have been made to the property have planning permissions;

    - check the lease of the property (read more about the difference between leasehold and freehold)

    Once everything is checked and confirmed, the contract is signed and exchanged. You will hand over a deposit, usually around 10 per cent of the property price.

    The exchange of the contracts is binding and therefore you will lose your deposit should you decide not to go ahead with the purchase of the property.

    With the exchange it is also agreed the completion and handing over of the keys.

    At this stage, if a mortgage is requested there will also be the mortgage deed for you to sign.

    Once you complete, you obtain the keys to your new home and receive the title deeds. Stamp duty is paid and the transfer is arranged at the Land Registry.

    It normally takes about two weeks from exchange of contracts to completion day, although it can be more or less. Some people arrange for exchange of contracts and completion to take place on the same day, but this is not always possible. Note that if you are part of a chain of sales (where the sellers or buyers need to buy or sell their property before being able to complete), the completion date will probably need to be agreed with more than two parties.

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    On Buying

    Stamp Duties
    Stamp duty is a property tax charged at completion. Taxation has been put into force to reflect the difference between investors buying holiday homes or buy-to-let and first time buyers.

    Stamp duty is payable at each rate on the portion of the purchase price that falls within that band, as follows:

     Stamp Duty

    % on property price First time buyers

    % on property price Other investors & companies

     Up to £125,000
     £125,001 - £250,000
     £250,001 - £925,000
     £925,001 - £1.5 million
     Over £1.5 million
     Properties up to £500,000
    0% up to £300,000, 5% for £300,001 - £500,000

    Land Registry Fee
    The Land Registry is a government department, which holds information about all registered properties in England and Wales. It charges a fee for transferring the register to the new owner. This fee is charged according to property price.


    Land Registry Fee

     Up to £40,000
     £40,001 - £70,000
     £70,001 - £100,000
     £100,001 - £200,000
     £200,000 - £500,000
     £500,000 - £1 million
     Over £1 million

    In the UK the contracts are drafted by the lawyers, and both the seller and the buyer will have a legal representative who will look after his interest.

    Some lawyers will charge a fixed fee while others charge a percentage of the property value. Either way you should budget to spend at least £500 on conveyancing fee with a conveyancer and £1,500 with a lawyer, plus costs for the standard searches.

    At very competitive rates, the Property Organiser's team of UK-registered solicitors will be delighted to help.

    It is strongly advised that you have your own independent, more detailed survey carried out to check for any defects. There are three types of survey: the Valuation usually carried out for the bank (if you are applying for a mortgage); the Homebuyer's Report which costs between £250 and £500; and the more comprehensive Building Survey (Structural Survey) which can cost anything up to £1,000 plus VAT, depending on the value of the house.

    On selling
    When you sell or dispose of property you might have to pay Capital Gains Tax.

    However, if you sell your main home you're usually entitled to Private Residence Relief on any gain you make which means there's no tax to pay. However, this only applies to those who are residents at the property.

    Generally the properties for which Capital Gains Tax applies include:

    - a property that you've bought as an investment, for example a buy-to-let property

    - a second home, for example a holiday home in the UK

    - business premises

    - land, such as agricultural land

    Rates are 18% and 28% for individuals (this depends on the total amount of your taxable income), or 10% for gains qualifying for Entrepreneurs' Relief.

    Since there are other tax reliefs that individuals and companies can apply to, it is advisable to check with an accountant or tax office.

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    Conveyancing is the transfer of the legal title of property from one person to another or the granting of a mortgage.

    You can either use a licensed conveyance or a solicitor.

    At very competitive rates, the Property Organiser's team of UK-registered solicitors will be delighted to help. We will ensure that you have good title and will arrange the contracts on your behalf. If this is the first time you have tried to purchase a house in England, you will realise that it can be a complex process.

    Our solicitors, fully qualified in the UK and lawyers in Italy, will be able to follow you step by step, and make this experience as stress-free as possible.

    Our lawyers, in keeping with The Property Organiser's ethos, have no links to any other property-related company and so have no vested interest in encouraging you to buy any particular property. Therefore, they will give their legal approval to a transaction only when they are satisfied your interests have been adequately safeguarded.

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    Q: How long does the whole buying process take after the offer is accepted?
    A: This can be as little as three-four weeks, if there are no legal complications. However, it is realistically to expect around six-seven weeks if the buyer does not need a mortgage and it is a chain free property (therefore not the seller or the buyer needs to purchase or sell their property to complete the deal)

    Q: How much do I have to pay as a deposit?
    A: This is usually 10 per cent payable when you exchange contracts.

    Q: Can I be gazumped?
    A: Yes, until the contracts are exchanged. Once the offer has been accepted, either you or the seller can pull out at any time until the exchange of contracts.

    Q: How much extra should I allow for purchase-related taxes and professional fees?
    A: This depends on the property price. See our section, Taxes & Likely Costs

    Q: What is buy-to-let?
    A: Buy to let is a form of investment where you buy a property with the main intention of renting it out, usually with the aid of a mortgage for this type of purchase. In this case the rent has to be 125%.

    Q: What is the difference between Freehold and Leasehold properties?
    A: If you buy a freehold property it means that you fully own the property. As a freeholder you will have full responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of the property.
    Leasehold means that you own the property for as long as is specified in the lease; you are granted the right to live there by the freeholder. At the end of the lease the property again becomes the possession of the freeholder. Many leases are originally granted for up to 999 years, but existing leases on properties are usually shorter. The majority of leasehold properties are apartments, although some houses are leasehold.
    You should not buy a property with a lease of less than 60 years, and anyway mortgage lenders are very unlikely to lend for a lease as a short as this.

    Q: What is the difference between Registered and Unregistered properties?
    A: If a property is registered, the title to the property is registered at the Land Registry and is guaranteed by the state. If property is unregistered, ownership is not guaranteed by the state. The title can only be proved by a copy of the title deeds, and your solicitor will check back the property's documentation.
    When you buy unregistered property, it must now be registered for the first time with the Land Registry. This will take some time so the buying process will take longer than if you are buying registered property.

    Click here for more information about the process of buying property in England

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    Mayfair is an area of central London. While the district is now mainly commercial, there remains a substantial quantity of residential property as well as some exclusive designer shops and London's largest concentration of deluxe hotels. There are luxurious streets like Bond Street, known for its celebrity clientele and for the presence of gourmet chefs' restaurants such as Gordon Ramsay's.

    Westminster is at the very centre of London history. Big Ben, The House of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and St. James's Park speak for themselves.

    Covent Garden is an area famous for its fashionable boutiques, hotels, street performers, bars, restaurants, theatres, musicals, the Royal Opera House and the London Coliseum. Surrounded by Theatreland, in the heart of London's West End, it is recognised as London's premier entertainment and leisure district. It includes Soho, lively and full of restaurants, clubs and pubs of every kind. Within Soho there is one of the most famous piazzas in London: Piccadilly Circus.

    The City, a business district located in central London, is the largest financial district in Europe. It is next to Bank, an evolving area where the beautiful St. Paul's Cathedral can be found.

    Clerkenwell is a fashionable residential area in the London Borough of Islington. The watch making and watch repairing trades were once of great importance here. Clerkenwell was once known as London's "Little Italy" because of the large number of Italians living in the area from the 1850s until the 1960s.

    Bloomsbury is an area with elegant colonial houses, universities, and museums of international importance.

    Regents Park is an elegant central area, with terraced houses that overlook the park.

    Marylebone, centrally located, is famous for Madame Tussaud's Museum and the Planetarium.

    Bayswater is a very cosmopolitan area of London, loved by the Americans, which has a unique mix of stylish and trendy property. In its immediate vicinity there is Paddington, a residential area full of restaurants and pubs, right close to Hyde Park. In Paddington there is a large railway station with direct trains to Heathrow Airport.

    Hyde Park area consists of elegant semi-detached houses and design apartments that surround the majestic park.

    South Kensington is a distinctively elegant part of London, a museum mile with the triumvirate of world famous museums: the V&A, the Science Museum, and the Natural History Museum. The surrounding area is now one of the most fashionable in town. Besides aristocratic mansions and the presence of royalty in Kensington Palace, the village of Kensington contains in its quieter back streets some hidden gems like Holland Park and Leighton House, the perfect Victorian artist's pad. Nearby there is Earls Court, a cosmopolitan area well-known for its large Earls Court Exhibition Centre, a destination for major international exhibitions.

    Pimlico is an elegant area, surrounded by beautiful gardens and important buildings of great architectural value.

    Battersea is an inner-city district of South West London. It is known for its decommissioned coal-fired Power Station, located on the south bank of the River Thames. Two stations were built to an identical design, providing the well-known four-chimney layout that has become one of the symbols of London. Battersea is surrounded by elegant period buildings and beautiful gardens such as Battersea Park.

    Chelsea is an exclusive area, famous for its Georgian and Victorian buildings, full of trendy restaurants and upscale boutiques. Every year it hosts the Chelsea Flower Show.

    Fulham is a district teeming with shops and restaurants. It is a very green area close to Stamford Bridge, Chelsea's legendary stadium.

    Notting Hill is a fashionable district of London with its rows of stately homes, beautiful gardens, and prestigious antique shops. Famous for Portobello Market. In its vicinity there is Ladbroke Grove, a beautiful residential area.

    Maida Vale is a residential area with beautiful houses. The presence of two canals has made it known as Little Venice.

    St John's Wood is an area with many beautiful Victorian townhouses and luxury apartments, well- known for Abbey Road recording studios made famous by the Beatles

    Primrose Hill is a prestigious residential area, surrounded by parks. Celebrities such as Brad Pitt, Madonna and Johnny Depp own properties here.

    Hampstead is a prestigious district topped by the beautiful Hampstead Heath, from where you can see the whole of London. This is one of London's most popular open spaces, situated just six kilometres from Trafalgar Square. An island of beautiful countryside, the magic of Hampstead Heath lies in its rich wildlife and extensive sports and recreational opportunities.

    Camden is a busy inner northern district of London. Its heart lies in Camden Town, a neighbourhood known for its market and its colourful nightlife. In addition, Camden is home to three of the most important railway stations in London: King's Cross, St. Pancras and Euston. Camden Town is loved by musical legends such as Amy Winehouse, who owned a property in Camden Square, where she lived for a while. Nearby there is King's Cross, an area of ever-growing cultural interest, which is home to the British Library and the big train and metro station.

    Islington is a trendy district where stars of the caliber of Guy Ritchie live. It is full of places where you can listen to live music, and is famous for its unique Georgian streets and squares.

    Canary Wharf is a new and growing financial and commercial area.

    Docklands is a large fast-growing area of London.

    South Bank: The London Southbank is one of the areas of the city that is popular with tourists due to the amazing number of famous venues, things to do, and general entertainment available along this incredibly scenic walk along the Thames. From the London Eye to the Tate Modern, the area is loaded with important London names. Bordered by Borough on the east, Lambeth to the south and Westminster to the north, South Bank sits right in the centre of London action. One of the largest train stations of the city is located in Waterloo, within the district.

    Brixton is an area full of energy, very creative and frequented by young artists and intellectuals. There are many clubs.

    Greenwich is a picturesque district, architecturally and historically interesting. It is surrounded by green areas. Here you can find the O2 Arena where great concerts take place.

    Putney is a very green area with a variety of beautiful houses and chic restaurants.

    Kew is a gorgeous area located near the river, famous for the Kew Gardens. The sophisticated and attractive Chiswick district is in its vicinity.

    Richmond is a residential area on the Thames, full of parks and elegant villas inhabited by stars such as Mick Jagger.

    Wimbledon is a beautiful residential district with well-maintained green areas. It hosts the famous Wimbledon tennis tournament.

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