Accredited Specialists in Conveyancing and Property Law
For most people, buying your home is the biggest financial transaction you will ever make. That’s why it’s really important that you pick the right Conveyancing Solicitors.
Our Conveyancing team understand that buying and selling your home can be very stressful. Our experienced property team handle house and flat sales in Wiltshire, Hampshire and Dorset and throughout England and Wales – from our offices in Salisbury, Fordingbridge, Andover and Amesbury – providing expert legal advice so you know exactly what you are buying.
Call Our Team Now on FREEPHONE 0800 1404544 or One of Our Local Office Numbers or Email Us for Your Fixed Fee Conveyancing Quote
In the last 20 years, our team of Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers have helped around 10,000 people just like you move home.
So when you appoint us, you can do so safe in the knowledge that we have the kind of real experience you can rely on.
And what’s more, here at Bonallack & Bishop, we are a CQS Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited firm. The Conveyancing Quality Scheme is the Law Society’s approved quality mark for the best residential conveyancing law firms. The Law Society requires each accredited firm to go through a re-accreditation programme each and every year.
To quote the Law Society themselves “members are approved by the Law Society as experts” in conveyancing. See below for details of what the Law Society’s CQS scheme involves.
After all, buying property is probably the biggest financial transaction, you are going to take – you want to make sure your property solicitor really knows what they’re doing. That means if you instruct us, you know you’re going to get great conveyancing work.
Membership of this scheme also reassures lenders, who are increasingly demanding that law firms must be members of the quality scheme. In fact, the CQS is supported by the Association of British Insurers, Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Building Societies Association.
We are also on the approved panels for all the major lenders, and quite a few of the smaller lenders too – a total of 55 different panels, last time we checked in October 2023. And, since 2019, we have been 1 of just 3 firms recommended by Progressive Property – the country’s leading business training property investors and developers.
Our Conveyancing Solicitors can help you with:
• A specialist service for Block Management Companies – click here to read more
• Buying Agricultural & Rural Land- click here to read more
• Buying a park home
• Equity Release Schemes
• Negligence claims arising from solicitor’s conveyancing mistakes
• New build houses/apartments
• Options and purchase lease options
• Purchase and Sale of houses and flats
• Preparation of Leases and Tenancy Agreements
• Transfer of Equity
Conveyancing needs regular contact between client, Solicitor and estate agent to minimise delay. You need to be confident you can get hold of your Conveyancing Solicitors. We can be contacted by phone, email or video call and with now 22 people in our specialist property team, if your contact is unavailable there will always be another team member able to help.
Our Conveyancing Solicitors provide:
- A FREE first discussion in one of our offices in Andover, Salisbury, Fordingbridge or Amesbury or on the phone, or Zoom video, to answer any questions and get you off to the right start
- A written conveyancing quote of the fixed fee legal costs of buying and selling your house or flat – without ‘hidden extra conveyancing costs’
- A full written report before exchange of contracts
- Regular contact and progress updates
Our sophisticated systems manage routine paperwork leaving our Conveyancing Solicitors free to deal with you and your estate agent, giving you an overall better and more efficient service.
Once you find your dream home or bargain buy to let, and have your offer accepted, instruct your Property Solicitor immediately. If you need a mortgage, make getting that your priority – or risk being delayed later. Once instructed, your Lawyer will obtain the estate agent’s Memorandum of Sale giving details of the sale and a Seller’s Package (including the draft contract, details of title and property information). Your difference between freehold and leasehold then makes a local search – dealing with issues including planning permission and whether your property is in a conservation area etc.
Conveyancing – Selling a Property
The first step is to find your buyer. Don’t forget if you use an estate agent you need to consider how commission will be paid. Our Conveyancing Solicitors can advise whether sole agency, multiple agency or joint sole agency is right for you.
Click here for how our Property Lawyers can help with your remortgage.
Buying Property Together – What You Need To Know
Whether you’re planning to live together as a couple, or are simply friends wanting to share a flat or house, buying property together does involve the risk of disagreement should you split up. To safeguard your position, make sure that you own the property either as joint tenants or as tenants in common.
- What is Joint Tenancy ? If you own a property together as joint tenants, when one of you dies, the share of the deceased person passes automatically to the survivor. Joint tenancy is commonly used for married couples and those in a civil partnership.
- What is Tenancy in Common? If you buy as tenants in common, each of you will own a particular share – often 50%, but it doesn’t have to be. Alternatively you might decide to divide the property according to how much each of you contributed towards the deposit or paid the monthly mortgage payments.
Tenancy in common often the best option if you are buying in unequal shares and you’re not married, in a civil partnership or a long-term relationship.
The big difference between joint tenancy and tenancy in common is that if one of the tenants in common dies, their share of the property automatically goes into their estate – not to their co-owner. That’s why if you are buying property as tenants in common, you should also consider making a will setting out exactly who is entitled to receive your property share should you die.
If you are in a relationship together, but are not married, then you and your partner both need to be clearly aware from the start how much you can afford to contribute and if you cannot contribute equal shares you may not wish to receive equal stakes in the property. Knowing this makes it far easier to work out what you are entitled to should the partnership break down.
If you’re buying a property jointly with one or more other people, and you instruct us to handle your purchase, make the most of our conveyancing solicitors’ knowledge – talk through your position with one of our team and then speak to your joint purchaser. this way, you will come up with something that suits your particular circumstances. But don’t wait too long – you need to do so before completion and preferably before exchange to allow your solicitor to have time to prepare the necessary paperwork.
Click here for more information about the legal position of living together – and the risks involved.
Transfers of Equity
When a relationship or marriage breaks down, often one owner buys the other’s share. The value of this share (known as equity) is the difference between the outstanding mortgage and your home’s current value. It is essential that the property transfer is recognised in law to ensure the owner selling their share is released from any commitment and mortgage on the property.
Conveyancing – the 3 main stages
Although the whole process of conveyancing can seem interminable, it’s ultimately for your protection and benefit. And in a nutshell, here are the three main steps in conveyancing – and how they protect you.
1. Local search
Local searches are at the core of conveyancing. As the name suggests, a conveyancing lawyer makes a search of the Local Land Charges Register, held by the local authority. This reveals vital information, such as details of planning applications in the area, or the status of the local roads. Your conveyancing solicitor may also carry out other searches – including flooding, mining and contaminated land searches if necessary.
In other words, local searches reveal the sort of information that might prove to be a deal-breaker when it comes to buying a property – or, more positively, the sort of information that reassures you and your mortgage lender that you’re buying the right property!
2. Exchanging contracts
All property transactions are subject to contract, and the process is started off by the seller’s property solicitor. They draw up a contract outlining the legal title [i.e. ownership of the property], a list of the fixtures and fittings that are part of the sale, and any other conditions which may apply.
The contract is then sent to the buyer’s solicitor, who will check it over and make sure that everything is OK.
When both parties are satisfied, the buyer usually pays a deposit to secure the purchase. Once those deposit funds have cleared, buyer and seller sign their own copies of the contract, which are then exchanged between the solicitors [many years ago this was done in person – but now routinely takes place by phone and email]. At this point, the contract becomes binding and neither party can withdraw from the transaction.
Houses and flats are sometimes referred to as “sold subject to contract”. this refers to the stage where an offer from the purchaser has been accepted by the seller, but contracts have not yet been exchanged. The sale is not yet legally binding. That does not take place until a contract of sale has been both signed and exchanged by solicitors.
3. Completion date
Exchanging contracts fixes a completion date –the date when the sale is completed and the buyer can move into their new property.
If possible, conveyancing solicitors try to arrange for the buyer to leave their old property by lunchtime and move into their new home in the afternoon. This can be delayed if there is a long chain of buyers and sellers, as the solicitors need to make sure that the various payments have cleared – and sadly significant delays from lenders are not unusual.
Prior to completion, your solicitor will provide you with a final balance – set out in detail the money required to complete your purchase. Once funds have been released by the mortgage lender, the conveyancing solicitor to pay off outstanding mortgages, estate agents fees and so on.
At this stage your solicitor will also pay the stamp duty and Land Registry fees for you – as well as registering your purchase of your new property at the Land Registry.
Energy Performance Certificates
You must provide an energy performance certificate (EPC) whenever a property is bought or sold. An EPC is designed to give every property an individual energy-efficiency rating, with information about the properties energy use and likely energy costs.
And what’s more, you need to order your EPC before you put your property on the market.
We can organise these for you, working with local EPC surveyors – simply contact our conveyancing solicitors for more information on this.
Freehold and leasehold – what’s the difference?
When you come to buy a house or flat, you will find that the contract of sale will describe the property as freehold or leasehold. But what these phrases actually mean?
• Freehold. This is the more straightforward of the two – buying freehold property means that you own the property – as well as the actual land it’s built on, right up to the boundary. So provided you act within the law, you can do whatever you like with your property. Most properties in England and Wales are freehold properties – including almost all houses.
• Leasehold. Purchasing a leasehold property is quite different. There are around 4,000,000 flats in the UK – almost all of which will be leasehold. There is also a small number of leasehold houses, though they have become quite controversial of late.
Click here to read more about the difference between freehold and leasehold ownership
Owning leasehold property
This does not give you the same freedom as owning a freehold property. In essence you’re buying a long lease, purchasing the right to live in a house or flat for a fixed number of years. Flats tend to be initially sold on 99 or 125 year leases. Leases on houses, sometime have longer leases – even up to 999 years.
And once the lease expires – you own absolutely nothing. The property simply reverts in full back to the landlord. Furthermore during the lease, it’s usual for the landlord to charge ground rent, as well as an annual service charge used to upkeep any communal areas and to maintain the structure of the building itself.
The conveyancing process involved in buying a freehold property is generally simpler than when purchasing any leasehold property. As a result the sale and purchase of leasehold property tends to be more time-consuming. Purchasers (and their lenders) usually ask for much more information about leasehold property – and will properly want to know in particular about how the building is being managed.
Leasehold property – the right to lease extension and buy your freehold
With leasehold property, you are likely to have the right to force your freeholder to grant you a lease extension – under which you can pay to extend your lease by up to 90 years. A UK leasehold extension is normally well worth considering – almost always your property will increase in value by considerably more than the amount you have to pay your freeholder. And you may also have the right to join together with other leaseholders to buy the freehold from your freeholder (a process known as leasehold enfranchisement).
We have a dedicated team of 5 specialist lease extension and enfranchisement specialists, one of only a very small number of such teams in the entire country – out of over 10,000 law firms. You can count on their expertise – extending over 450 residential leases alone every year, along with the freehold purchase of residential blocks – that’s all they do.
Conveyancing and your will
Buying a new property is the kind of change in your life when you should consider either making a will, or updating your existing will.
Click here to read more about making your will
Call our Conveyancing Solicitors now for a free no obligation quote
Our property team can see you in our Salisbury, Fordingbridge, Andover or Amesbury offices – and our team also regularly run cases for clients nationwide or overseas taking instructions by phone, email and Zoom video/FaceTime.
So whether you are buying a detached house in the Close in Salisbury, selling a flat in Andover, or purchasing a buy to let in Amesbury, for stress free conveyancing get in touch with our team today.
Law Society Accredited Conveyancing Solicitors
As mentioned above, our conveyancers are CQS Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited.
When choosing who to handle your property conveyancing matter, it is important to look for a conveyancer who is accredited by the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS). The CQS is written by the Law Society and sets the conveyancing quality standards for law firms regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).
CQS accreditation is only awarded to conveyancers who have undergone the necessary training and can demonstrate that they:
· Have the legal expertise to provide excellent residential conveyancing guidance
· Have strict standards and processes in place to manage and reduce risks and
· Can educate clients about what to expect when paying for conveyancing advice
By selecting a CQS-accredited conveyancing Solicitor, you can be fully assured that they adhere to the strictest standards of competence, risk management and client service levels.
CQS doesn’t only provide buyers and sellers with confidence, it also gives reassurance to insurers, banks and building societies. This is why the CQS and its members are supported by the Association of British Insurers, the Council of Mortgage Lenders and the Building Societies Association.
What is the CQS conveyancing protocol?
All members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) must comply with the CQS conveyancing protocol. By choosing one of our conveyancing Solicitors to represent you, you can be assured that they will follow the CQS conveyancing protocol. The protocol sets out exactly how your Solicitor must handle each of the six stages of the conveyancing process; these are:
· Stage A: Taking Instructions – the protocol sets out the professional conduct requirements, including price transparency, money laundering and client identity checks, acting for joint buyers, and gathering information about the property for sale. For example, the seller must provide an energy performance certificate (EPC), which provides details about the property’s energy-efficiency rating, energy use and likely energy costs.
· Stage B: Pre-exchange – submitting a contract – including checking the identity of other conveyancers, preparing and delivering the contract bundle, enquiries before the contract, further advice and confirming instructions, and acting for the lender
· Stage C: Prior to the exchange of contracts – including reporting to the client and making arrangements for the signing of the contract, paying the deposit, and agreeing on a completion date. During this stage, any searches will be carried out by the buyer’s Solicitor
· Stage D: Exchange of contracts – the CQS protocol sets out what must happen before the exchange of contacts, including any pre-completion searches, the submission of a certificate of title, and the arranging of funds
· Stage E – Completion – includes the two stages of completion:
o 1) Completion of the legal document and transfer of the funds. This should take place by the time on the sale contract (usually 2 p.m.), and
o 2) Making sure that the property is empty (called ‘vacant possession’) and that the handover of the keys has been arranged.
· Stage F – After completion – includes paying any Stamp Duty (SDLT) owing and registering the buyer as the new owner of the property with the Land Registry.
Following the CQS conveyancing protocol means that everyone involved in the sale or purchase of your property can have confidence that the process will be completed correctly and their interests will always be protected.
Our team will guide you through the end to end process and ensure that no stone is left unturned.