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Solicitors have a duty under money laundering regulations to verify the identity of any client in order to satisfy themselves that clients are who they say they are. There are also similar obligations in respect of identity verification for the Land Registry and mortgage lenders.
You will need to provide two forms of ID; proof of identity (usually a Passport or Driving Licence) and proof of address (usually a Utility Bill or Bank Statement dated within the last three months).
Evidence of source of funds is also required under the money laundering regulations as solicitors have a duty to check that the money you are using to purchase a property (be it the exchange deposit or the full purchase price if you are a cash purchaser) has come from a reputable source (such as employment savings) and is not the product of criminal activity.
We will need to see evidence of proof of funds before we are able to accept any monies from you into our client account and we may also ask further questions regarding the source of funds.
Freehold – If you own a Freehold Property you have outright ownership of the property and the land on which it stands, with no time limit to the period of ownership.
Leasehold – Is a method of owning a property for a fixed term, but not the land on which it stands. A document called the Lease grants the owner the right to use the property exclusively for a specified period of time (Lease lengths vary, but the most common terms are 99, 125 and 999 years).
Some Freehold properties (particularly common in North West England) pay an annual sum known as a Chief Rent or Rentcharge to a third party who has no other legal interest in the land.
Rentcharge payments are usually between £2.00 and £5.00 per year. Rentcharges have existed for many centuries, but the Rent Charge Act 1977 barred the creation of new rentcharges from 1977 onwards.
Old rentcharges can now be redeemed by making a lump sum payment under the Act. Any rentcharges that are still in existence in 2037 will be extinguished.
We have produced a guide to the conveyancing process which sets out the key stages for both a sale and purchase and how these then link together.
We are a member of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme and as such follow the Law Society’s conveyancing protocol which clearly identifies the responsibilities on each party during the process.
Every transaction is different as there are many factors that can affect the speed at which the transaction proceeds; whether there is a chain involved and the stage the rest of the chain are at, the time it takes for the mortgage valuation to be carried out and the mortgage offer being issued, the amount of time it takes for searches results to be received etc.
Other external factors could include someone in the chain going on holiday (which is a common issue for clients buying or selling during the summer holidays) or bereavements/illness in families that potentially affect the transaction.
If you have do have a particular timescale from the outset, you should advise us of this so we can advise the other parties in the transaction and keep you updated on the liklehood of achieving that date for you. At Myerson the bespoke service we offer allows us to work to your timescales, where external factors allow and keep the transaction moving forward.
We would advise you not to set a specific date for completion (and make arrangements around this date such as booking removals) until all parties in the chain are ready to commit to an exchange of contracts.
The deposit on your purchase property is payable on exchange of contracts. This means that you do not have to pay the deposit at the outset of the transaction. When the transaction is near to exchange we will inform you that the deposit needs to be paid to enable exchange of contracts to take place. The deposit can be paid by bank transfer (CHAPS or BACS) or alternatively by cheque.
An exchange deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price. This deposit is forfeitable in the event of the buyer withdrawing from the transaction.
If you do not have sufficient funds in order to pay a full 10% deposit (for example if you are obtaining a 95% mortgage and are therefore only have a 5% deposit) you must make us aware of this as soon as possible in order that we can advise the Seller’s solicitors and agree a reduced deposit with them.
We are often asked about the difference between exchange and completion.
‘Exchange’ is the term referred to when all parties are in a position to commit to proceed and the transaction becomes legally binding. The exchange happens by phone between the two parties solicitors when each holds a contract signed by their respective clients. The solicitors agree to the contents of the contract, they are each dated and then ‘exchanged’ by post. On exchange the buyer pays the deposit to the seller, usually 10% of the agreed price of the property but this is sometimes varied particularly where there is a chain of transactions.
Completion’ is the date that the title to the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer and the buyer takes possession of the property ie keys handed over.
The period between exchange and completion varies in each transaction and the parties involved; exchange and completion can take place on the same day (this is known as simultaneous exchange and completion) or exchange can take place with completion several months later. It is usual however to have between 5 and 20 working days between exchange and completion.
You will not need to attend our offices for us to exchange and complete. Exchange takes place between the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors on the telephone.
We will however contact you before we exchange to ensure that you want to commit to the transaction, that you are happy with the completion date and that none of your circumstances have changed. We will then inform you once exchange has taken place so you can implement your building insurance and make removal arrangements etc. On the completion date, the solicitors arrange for the relevant monies to be transferred and received to complete the matter. So again, you do not need to attend our offices for completion to take place.
We will contact you to advise you that completion has taken place so you can vacate the property and hand the keys to the agent (if you are the seller) or collect the keys and take possession of the property (if you are the buyer).
All documentation that has to be signed by you can be done in person at our offices or we can post/email this to you, whatever suits you best. We cannot exchange/complete until all necessary documents are in our possession.
Under money laundering regulations, solicitors also have a duty to verify your parents’ identity and see evidence of their proof of funds. This also applies to any other third party such as a partner or other family member who may be assisting you financially.
If you are obtaining a mortgage to purchase the property solicitors are also under an obligation to disclose any gift to the mortgage lender and ask the person(s) providing the gift to sign a gift declaration confirming that the money they are providing is purely a gift and is not repayable and they do not have any interest in the property.
This will very much depend on your individual circumstances. The tax you will pay will vary according to where the property you are buying is located. In England you will pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) and in Wales you will Land Transaction Tax (LTT).
Wales introduced LTT on the 1st April 2018 and the rates payable differ to SDLT.
Links to respective welsh and English calculators?
SDLT and LTT have a surcharge of 3% payable if the property you are buying is classed as an ‘additional property’. The regulations can be tricky to understand and after discussions with you we can advise you on the tax we consider to be payable or refer you to a specialist tax advisor.
You may also be entitled to First Time Buyer Relief if you are purchasing in England. Again, we would need to discuss your circumstances with you to ascertain if this relief can be claimed.
There are differing levels of survey that can be undertaken against the property you are purchasing ranging from a basic valuation to a full structural survey.
The survey has to be arranged by you and is often undertaken by the same person that carries out a mortgage valuation.
Book your consultation using the below enquiry form. Alternatively, you can call us on
Home-grown or recruited from national, regional or City firms. Our specialists are experts in their fields and respected by their peers.
Heather is a Senior Solicitor and Head of our Residential Property department
Claire is a Solicitor in our Residential Property department
Vikki is a Paralegal within the Residential Property Team