Buying or Selling a house or a flat

We aim to make moving home as stress free as possible for our clients. No fuss, no bother. A proper, professional service.

Residential Conveyancing

We aim to make moving home as stress free as possible for our clients. No fuss, no bother. A proper, professional service.

All our conveyancing work is done by experienced, qualified solicitors. We've been doing it for over 35 years. We know what to do to make things happen and how to protect you from the worst of the horrors and irritations.

If you want solicitors who will listen to you and do what you want, when you want it, call us on 020 3633 4060.

Our office is in West London. You are welcome to visit us but you don't have to. We regularly act for clients all over the country, doing everything by post, the telephone and by email.

Buying or selling a house or a flat is something most clients do just a few times in there lives. We do it everyday. We know what we are doing .

Some Tips

Remember you are dealing with human beings. With all the good…and the bad.. …things that involves. Most will be scrupulously honest and fair. Others will be so worried about losing the deal that they will tell you what they think you want to hear. A very small minority will mislead you. Listen to what they say to you but always rely on your own common sense and if in doubt…double check with us. We will always be straight with you about what is going on.

If you have to move by a certain date, changing jobs, getting married, fitting in with school terms TELL US as early as possible. We will do everything we can to meet your deadline. Otherwise:

Be realistic about timing. Moving home takes on average about ten weeks. That's not because solicitors are slow and deliberately delay matters. (We don't get paid till the end so it's in our interests to speed matters up). Why it takes time is because conveyancing is all about protecting the client. The amount of money involved in buying any property is so high, the purchaser's solicitors have to carry out a whole range of enquiries, searches and other checks to protect the buyer and their mortgage lender (if there is to be a mortgage) from expensive, avoidable problems. These checks involve getting information from a range of different people and organisations, including other lawyers, local councils, private companies, building societies and banks. Some of these are efficient and well organised. Others aren't. And remember, it doesn't matter how quickly we do our job, if the people you are buying from or are selling to aren't ready, nothing can go ahead until they are.

And we are all now live in a world where every box has to be ticked. If you have a mortgage we have to do everything your mortgage lender demands however over the top or irrelevant it is. Unless we do they won't give us your mortgage money to complete the purchase.

Whether you have a mortgage or not we have to make sure everything is covered and evidenced in writing. If we don't then you may have a problem when you try to sell in 5 or 10 or 20 years time. We have to protect you and protect ourselves. We don't have an option. Those are the rules we have to operate under.

Don't count on moving on a certain date until contracts are exchanged. Whatever promises the people you are buying from or selling to make, or your mortgage lender makes don't rely on them until what they promise actually happens. More stress is caused to clients by false promises than anything else.

Common promises which are so often untrue as to ring alarm bells;

From the lender. "The mortgage offer is on its way" .

From the buyer "I'm a cash buyer"

From the seller "I'll move out into rented accommodation so you can meet your target moving date"

Don't book to go on holiday right in the middle of the transaction. You have to be around to give instructions and sign documents.

If you know the property has anything unusual about it, for example…..it's been converted into flats, the loft has been turned into an extra bedroom or it's unclear where the garden begins or ends… let us know.

Some of the checks the buyer's solicitor carries out are routine and are done automatically. Others will be triggered off by the nature of the individual property being bought. If we are acting for you in buying, unless you have given us some pre-warning, we may not know what extra checks are needed until a copy of the title documents is examined or information is received from one of the routine checks. This can slow the transaction down. In addition it's increasingly common for mortgage lenders to include unexpected conditions in their mortgage offers which the buyer's solicitors will not know about until a copy of the offer is received.

If you are buying, don't be afraid to bargain. Some sellers are tough and won't budge a penny, particularly if the property has only just gone on the market. Some may be keen to sell and will accept an offer 5%, 10% or even more below the asking price. No harm in trying.

Try and get the seller to agree what fixtures and fittings they will be leaving at the property. They are likely to be more generous when you are still deciding whether to buy or not than after you have made an offer and it has been accepted.

Don't be shy about going back to look at the property two or three times. It will probably be one of the biggest purchases of your lives so check it out thoroughly. Go and look around the neighbourhood. Are there any noisy pubs or clubs nearby, school traffic choking the roads at the beginning and end of the school day. Is the property next door well looked after or does it look like a tip. Have a look at www.upmystreet.com to find out more about the area

If you are selling, talk to us before you do anything else. We can sort out the conveyancing paperwork required before you even find a buyer this can make the whole process quicker, easier and less stressful for you. We may even be able to negotiate a discount on your estate agents fee.

Talk to us at Sayer Moore & Co. We have acted for people buying and selling for over 35 years and are more than happy to give you advice and guidance


Cost of buying or selling

Selling

If you are selling remember to budget for your estate agents fee. The amount will vary a little from agent to agent but more from area to area. In some areas it could be as low as 1%. In most of London and the South East 1 1/2% to 2% seems to be normal. Remember to add VAT at 20%.

Don't assume the cheapest agent will be the best value. It's better to pay a good agent 2% and get the best price than pay an inexperienced agent 1% and end up selling your home for less than it's worth.

A sole agent or multiple agents. If you use one agent only he or she will probably offer you a slightly lower commission rate. After all, they know they will have a good chance of earning their fee. If you instruct several agents, only the one who eventually finds the buyer will get paid. To cover the risk of doing a lot of work and then receiving nothing multiple agents will usually ask to be paid a slightly higher percentage commission if they are successful.

Using several agents may give you exposure to a wider range of potential buyers but nowadays virtually every agent puts their properties on the major internet sites such as Rightmove so the benefits of using more than one agent are declining. .

In the end the most important thing is to use a reputable company with local experience. They are more likely to have good quality applicants and to vet prospective buyers properly.

Find out how the property will be marketed and whether the agent regularly uses the local press.
Does the agent have a website, which could feature your property?

Will the particulars be prepared with colour photographs?

Will the agent agree to place your property in their window?

Viewing arrangements. Ensure you give clear instructions to the agent regarding viewing times and accessibility. If you leave a key to the property ensure that the agent will accompany any viewers.

Supply telephone numbers where they can contact you or at least leave a message you can be certain of getting.

When signing an agency agreement make sure you understand any "tie in" clauses. Most agents offering a sole agency rate will ask for a minimum period, probably eight weeks, in which only they can offer the property on your behalf and will hold you to that. Most will want written notice from you should you decide to instruct other agents after that period. Avoid giving the agent "sole selling rights" as this means you have to pay them their full fee even if you found a buyer or sold to a friend.

Speak to several agents to get an idea of the value of your property. Although it is tempting to place your property with the agent that suggests the highest price this is not always the best option especially if finding a buyer quickly is important. If your property is overvalued you may not receive any offers until you eventually lower the price to a more realistic level.

Other costs involved in selling:

Solicitors fees. Our charges for dealing with a sale are based on the amount of time we have to spend on it which depends on what work is needed to safely complete the purchase.

To find out what we need to charge per hour we add up the cost of running our office for one full year. This includes the wages we pay to secretaries, bookkeepers, filing clerks and our support staff, the money we pay to our suppliers for equipment, stationery, electricity, rent, business rates and all the other bills that come in. We then divide that amount by the number of hours our solicitors can reasonably be expected to work in a year, taking into account their normal holiday entitlement, sick leave and the time they spend on administration, training and other similar requirements. This gives us the amount each solicitor has to earn an hour to ensure we can pay our bills and other overheads. The current basic hourly figure works out to approximately £195.00.

We can't give a precise figure for our charges as each case can be different. Some run very smoothly and the clients are content to leave us to get on with things. Others run into all kinds of unexpected problems, usually due to one or more of the people in the "chain" having mislead their buyer or seller or having some unexpected personal problems. In addition, some clients like us to be in contact with them two or three times a day, every day. While we are willing to provide whatever service clients want, that does put the bill up considerably!

At the end of the case we check how much time we have spent on the file and from that work out the bill To make that a bit easier the Law Society allows us to treat each letter, phone call or email sent or received as being one tenth of an hour or 6 minutes.

The best we can say is that a normal, straightforward sale would cost around £900 to £1000 plus VAT...but life and human nature being what it is, cases are rarely completely normal and straightforard.

What we do promise is that we will provide a good, reliable professional service. We keep our clients informed about what we are doing and why. We treat every one of our clients as an individual and treat them with the respect and courtesy they deserve. We think that's real value for money.

What else? In some sales there are a few unexpected costs. We may need to get copy documents from the Land Registry. If so they will charge us about £20. If we need copies of planning consents from the local council that may cost anything from £5 to £40. If you are selling a flat, some freeholders charge a fee for providing up to date information about insurance or service charges. One major landlord will not answer any letters until it is paid £150. If we have to make payments to anyone else in order to get the information we need to allow your sale to proceed, we will let you know in advance and ask you to cover the cost. Let me stress... these will be payments demanded by other people or organisations not fees kept by us. Money we pay to others on your behalf are called disbursements.


Buying

What do we do on a purchase?

Can these costs be reduced?

Our clients expect and deserve a good service. To provide this, we need staff and equipment, all of which costs money. We do try to keep the costs over which we have some influence under control and the main way of achieving this is to use our staff efficiently. We employ enough staff to provide a good service on an average day but some days are busier than others. For example, the beginning and end of the week are busier than midweek as is the end of the month. Periods just before Christmas, Easter and Bank Holidays are always particularly hectic. As a result, there are times when we and our staff are very busy and although we always try to deal with all emails or calls within 48 hours, occasionally this may not be possible. It might be a particularly busy time or another client's case may be at a crucial stage and need all of our concentration. On these occasions, please be patient. We could employ enough staff to deal with even the busiest days without stress but if we did, it would mean that on quiet days most of them would be sitting around with nothing to do. This would increase our overheads immensely and as a result, force us to increase our charge to you.

In order to be fair, everything is dealt with in the order it arrives. If your case is especially urgent and you want us to queue jump it, we will do so whenever possible. But please accept that this causes disruption to our system and means that another client's work is put back. We cannot do this too often and we will need to make an additional charge when we do. Therefore, please only request this in a real emergency.

Can I do anything to help keep my bill down?

<1r>Leave us to get on with your case as quietly as possible. We will be doing all that is necessary and we will report to you when something important or interesting happens. If you have any information to pass on to us or want to ask any questions, if possible please write us a short note or send us an e-mail. We can deal with those so much more speedily and easily than we can deal with a phone call. If you do need to phone us please be willing to talk to your solicitor's assistant. He or she are trained and experienced enough to answer most routine queries. If they cannot deal with your query personally they will discuss it with your solicitor and either the solicitor or their assistant will come back to you as soon as reasonably possible. If the solicitor knows what your question is it gives them a chance to find out the answer before they return your call. If you refuse to leave a message and insist upon the solicitor phoning you back to find out what your query is, it will slow down the transaction.

We normally deal with your case in a way which moves it forward reasonably quickly. However if you are in a rush and want us to chase the other parties involved and generally do what we can to speed matters up, we will do so. However, as you will appreciate this usually means spending more time on the case and may mean that the final bill will have to reflect this. We are very happy to do this for you where necessary but will not automatically do it unless you ask us to. Most cases have their own natural speed and if you allow the case to proceed at that rate, the costs are kept to a minimum.

We like to work with our clients as part of a team and find that clients are often able to do some of the routine work themselves and, indeed some prefer to do so whilst others like us to deal with every aspect of the case. What this means is that the share of work between yourselves and us is at your discretion and we will do as much as you want but the more you assist, the quicker and more economical the case will be. In the end, the ultimate thing which decides how much work we do for you and the cost involved is safety. As your professional advisers we have to do whatever is needed to safeguard your interests. We cannot cut corners.

Stamp Duty and Registry Fees

The biggest cost in most purchases is Stamp Duty. This is a tax on the price of the property and is paid to the Inland Revenue.

On freehold properties the basic Stamp Duty rates are:

Purchase price of property Rate of Stamp Duty Buy to Let/ Additional Home Rate (from April 2016) *
£0 - £125,000 0% 3%
£125,001 - £250,000 2% 5%
£250,001 - £925,000 5% 8%
£925,001 - £1.5 million 10% 13%

The above is for illustration purposes only as rates may change and the rules as to what properties will be liable for what tax are constantly changing,

In addition, the tax payable varies depending on whether you are a first time buyer, the owner of one property and swapping it for another or in any way linked to being a second property owner in any way or in any country. You do need to check with HMRC the precise rate that will apply to your purchase.

Rates of Stamp Duty

For a detailed explanation directly from the Inland revenue Click Here www.gov.uk/stamp-duty-land-tax


The way stamp duty is calculated on leases is even more complicated. If you are buying an existing lease it's treated in the same way as a freehold property. That is the price paid is all that counts. However, if you are buying a new lease, Stamp Duty is based on the Price paid and on the rent payable under the lease. When we know the terms of the lease we will let you know what the Stamp Duty will be.

Leasehold Stamp Duty

In the meantime if you want more information on how it is calculated Click Here www.gov.uk/guidance/stamp-duty-land-tax-leasehold-purchases#new-leases


As you will see, Stamp Duty is a major expense. Despite that, fees are payable to other government departments as well. The Land Registry is the department which keeps records on who owns which properties. All changes of ownership and all mortgages have to be registered with the Land Registry or the transaction becomes invalid. The Land Registry fee varies depending on the price paid.

e.g. a property bought for £550,000 will incur a Land Registry fee of £270 .

For more detailed information on all Land Registry fees
Click Here www.gov.uk/guidance/land-registry-registration-services-fees


Local Searches

When buying a property, one of the essential checks is to ask the local council if they have done or intend to do anything which might affect the property. For example, whether they have granted or refused any planning permissions or decided to build a major new road nearby. Experience has shown that there are certain questions which should normally be asked. These are set out in a detailed form call "a Local Search". This is sent to the Council which is responsible for the area which covers the property you are buying. Different councils take anything from a week to a month to reply to these and charge different fees. Some as little as £100, others as much as £280. As this is quite a big outlay we ask you to let us have a cheque to cover the likely cost. In most of London this is about £300 so that's the amount we request you send us. As soon as we receive that from you we send off the local search. To avoid delay later on we ask you to let us have a cheque for £300 payable to Sayer Moore & Co right at the beginning of the transaction. If the cost of the search is less, we will credit any balance towards your purchase. If it's more, we will ask you for the balance later on.


We believe that the fairest way to work out our charge to you is to link it to the amount of time we spend on your case. If your case is simple and quickly dealt with, you pay less than if it is difficult and slow. This is very similar to the way you pay more for a long taxi journey than a short one.
We work out how much to charge for our time by adding up the cost of running our office for one full year. This includes the wages we pay to secretaries, bookkeepers, filing clerks and our support staff, the money we pay to our suppliers for equipment, stationery, electricity, business rates and all the other bills that come in. We then divide that amount by the number of hours our solicitors can reasonably be expected to work in a year, taking into account the normal holiday entitlement, sick leave and the time they to spend on administration, training & other similar requirements. This arrives at the amount each solicitor has to earn an hour to ensure we can pay our bills and stay in business. Finally, we add to that a profit margin of 15% from which the solicitors themselves are paid.

The current hourly charge works out to approximately £195.00. To simplify our sums, the Law Society allows us to assume that a basic letter received or sent or a telephone call received or made would take up about six minutes or one-tenth of an hour. This covers the cost of getting a file out, thinking about what needs to be done, making a note and, if necessary, dictating, typing a letter, checking, signing it and posting it.

We can't give a precise figure for our charges as each case can be different. Some run very smoothly and the clients are content to leave us to get on with things. Others run into all kinds of unexpected problems, usually due to one or more of the people in the "chain" having mislead their buyer or seller or having some unexpected personal problems. In addition, some clients like us to be in contact with them two or three times a day, every day. While we are willing to do that please bear in mind it really isn't necessary and will put the bill up considerably. Having said that, a normal straightforward case should cost about £900 to £1000 plus VAT and any fees paid to a third party on your behalf. However that is not a quote or a fixed fee as every case is different and so much depends on the people involved and the human element. The cost can always vary if there are exceptional circumstances which is why we will try and give you a more accurate estimate as matters progress and we get more information about your transaction.

Our fees are subject to VAT at 20% . In addition you have to cover any payments we make to third parties. We mention the major ones above, Stamp Duty, Land Registry fees, local searches but there may well be others depending on the nature of your transactions. Fortunately most of these are minor amounts and as and when these come to light we will let you know.

TIP TO SAVE MONEY Don't treat emails to us like a personal conversation with a friend. We charge for each email received or sent so if you keep remembering new things to ask and a stream of emails go back and forth please don't complain if your bill is more that you expected.!

What we do promise is that we will provide a good, reliable professional service. We keep our clients informed about what we are doing and why. We treat every one of our clients as an individual and treat them with the respect and courtesy they deserve. We think that's real value for money.

Survey

Buying a property is the biggest financial transaction of most peoples lives. It pays to play it safe and have the property thoroughly checked over by a surveyor. If no problems are found at least you can sleep easily. If any serious faults are discovered you can either renegotiate the price to cover the cost or withdraw from the deal. If there are serious faults and the surveyor misses them, you have some chance of claiming compensation.

What is the likely cost? All mortgage lenders will want a surveyor chosen by them to value the property and most will make you pay the valuer's fee. This varies from lender to lender and on the type and price of the property but will probably be between £150 and £250. Please check with your lender for precise costs. A basic valuation is designed to protect the lender NOT you. It's only intended to make sure their loan is reasonably safe.

Some lenders offer to allow their surveyor to do a report for you as well. They charge an extra fee for this, perhaps £300 to £400, but it is worth it to give you the protection you need. Remember though that even the best of surveys usually contain a large number of "get out clauses". Watch out for the surveyor saying he/she was unable to check the roof, couldn't take up the carpets to check the floor boards or didn't check the wiring, gas supply, heating or drainage. Some of these may be reasonable, too many of them and you may begin to wonder what you are getting for your money. If you believe the surveyor is acting unfairly in excluding too many responsibilities discuss it with him/her.

Occasionally you will be offered a full structural report. This is an extremely thorough report going into much more detail than a normal survey. It is really designed for properties where there is a high risk of a serious problem. Older, poorly maintained properties or ones of an unusual design. The cost of these can be high. £500+ but if you need it they are worth it.

Most lenders will let you use a surveyor of your own choice to carry out your survey and their valuation provided the surveyor is on a list of ones they are willing to use.

Here is a link which may be of use.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

If you are getting a mortgage the lender will want their loan registered at the Land Registry. Some will do that work themselves and usually add the cost to the loan you are taking out. Some will use their own firm of solicitors and again the cost will probably be added to your loan. Some will ask us to act for them as well as acting for you. If so the cost wil have to be paid by you and is taken from the mortgage advance. How much depends on the lender and what they want done and on the size of the mortgage as the lender will insist we give them a guarantee their loan is legally safe and properly registered. If it isn't they will expect us to compensate them. We have calcualted that the annual professional indemnity insurance we have to take out costs , on average, about £150 per mortgage case. The cost of acting for your lender to cover this and the work involved mens that the cost of checking the legal aspects of the mortgage and registering it wil be between £200 and £400 depending on the lender and the size of the loan.


Please note we are not authorised to advise on tax implications such as Capital Gains Tax or Stamp Duty and if you require information on any such issues please discuss with an appropriately qualified accountant

For more information in general call us on 020 3633 4060