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Residential Property


For most of us our home is by far the most valuable asset that we will ever own. So, whether you are considering either buying or selling a property, it is important that the conveyancing process is handled by professionals who have the appropriate knowledge and experience to protect you and your asset now and in the future.


Choosing the right conveyancer is an important part of the process. It is a conveyancer’s job to guide you through the transaction, and to address the legal technicalities and spot any potential pitfalls or issues. Your conveyancer will not only ensure that your transaction progresses smoothly within the timescale that you require, but will also provide reassurances to you that both you and your investment are safe and secure.

At Wolferstans, our Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS)-accredited team will be on hand at every stage of the process. Your dedicated conveyancer will keep you informed throughout the transaction and work with you to meet your expectations as a valued client.

Our team of property experts is qualified and experienced to assist you in all aspects of residential property transactions ranging from re-mortgages, transfers of equity, equity releases and leasehold extensions to the more complex overage provisions, formal deeds of grant and reconstruction of unregistered titles to land.

To discuss your requirements and request a conveyancing quote, please contact your local Wolferstans office in Plymouth, Plymstock or Plympton.


Why choose Wolferstans for conveyancing in Plymouth?

Wolferstans is a well-known and well-respected Plymouth-based firm with an excellent reputation with the roots of the firm having first been established on The Barbican in the heart of Plymouth over 200 years ago.

Our philosophy is to deliver a high quality service in a friendly and personal manner with a view to establishing long-term professional relationships with our clients.

Our fees are competitive and affordable, reflecting the quality of the service we provide – we do not cut corners when dealing with one of the most important transactions you are likely to make during your lifetime.

We understand that each and every transaction is unique and we adapt our working practices to the individual needs of each of our clients.

We use a state-of-the-art practice management system to improve efficiency and facilitate prompt communication with our clients.

We have extensive knowledge and experience in all aspects of residential sales, purchases and related transactions and we offer all-round and professional advice you can rely on.

Our clients are given the direct dial telephone number and email address of their own dedicated conveyancer with whom they will interact on a one-to-one basis throughout the course of their transaction.

Our conveyancing service includes:

  • A free initial discussion and quotation
  • Fixed fees, offering cost certainty
  • Direct line access to our property lawyers
  • Plain English advice and guidance
  • Accredited performance standards

For more information on our fixed fees for buying, selling or mortgaging a home, please take a look at our conveyancing pricing guidelines.


Find out more about how we can help you with residential conveyancing


Buying a Home

Buying a home is always an exciting prospect especially if you are a first time buyer, but without the help of a solicitor it can be a legal minefield. Our experienced property lawyers have the skill to guide you through the process.

We are a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. By choosing a member you can be sure that your solicitor meets high standards set by the Law Society.

What your solicitor will need from you:

  • Personal identification
  • Price of the property
  • A copy of the energy performance certificate
  • Influences that may affect the time you want to buy the property
  • And how you are planning to pay for the property

Your solicitor may also need to know:

  • If you have applied for a mortgage
  • Plan to carry out work on the property
  • Buying with someone else
  • Whether the seller is buying another property
  • And if you have a property to sell


The Process of Buying a Home

Step 1

Your solicitor will write to the seller’s solicitor requesting the contract papers and will also ask you to provide evidence of the source of the monies you will be contributing towards the purchase.

You may also at this stage wish to instruct a Survey of the property.

Step 2

On receipt of the contract papers your solicitor will apply for any required searches, such as the local authority search, the environmental search and the drainage and water search.

Your solicitor will also review the contract papers and assess whether any enquiries need raising with the sellers. An example of such an enquiry is asking whether the seller has carried out or is aware of any structural alterations to the property and whether the necessary consents were obtained for the work.

If you commissioned a survey, you should supply a copy of the report to your solicitor as the surveyor may also recommend that your solicitor investigates certain matters.

Step 3

On receipt of satisfactory replies to enquiries from the sellers and search results (and a mortgage offer, if applicable), your solicitor will advise you on any matters which you should be made aware of prior to the exchange of contracts.

Your solicitor will also advise you on the options available to ensure you do not inherit any risks in connection with the property.

If applicable, your solicitor will also review your mortgage offer and advise you on the terms and conditions.

Step 4

You will usually meet with your solicitor to sign the relevant paperwork in connection with the purchase.

You will then be asked to provide your deposit, which is usually 10% of the purchase price. You will also be advised to obtain quotes for buildings insurance for the property, as you will normally be required to set up cover with effect from the date of exchange of contracts. A notable exception to this is if you are purchasing a leasehold property, in which case the freeholder or management company will usually insure the whole of the building.

You will also discuss what date you would like as your moving date (“completion date”) during the meeting.

Step 5

Once a completion date is agreed, exchange of contracts can take place.

When exchanging, the buyer’s and seller’s solicitor agree over the telephone to insert the final terms of the contract. Once exchange takes place, the contract becomes legally binding. Your solicitor will usually apply for your mortgage money at this stage. You will also be required to let your solicitor have the balance of any money you are contributing towards the purchase price at this stage.

Step 6

On the completion date, your solicitor will electronically transfer the purchase monies (less any deposit paid on exchange of contracts) to the seller’s solicitor who will telephone your solicitor and the estate agent (if applicable) when that money is received to confirm that the keys to the property may be released to you.

You will need to collect the keys from the estate agents or, if there is none, the seller’s solicitor.

Step 7

Shortly after completion, your solicitor will deal with any Inland revenue formalities (submitting a Land Tax return and paying stamp duty land tax if applicable) and will then register the change of ownership of the property with the Land Registry.

After the Land Registry has completed the registration, your solicitor will forward to you the Land Registry’s confirmation and any relevant title deeds or documents for the property to you and your mortgage lender (if applicable).

If you are considering buying a property and would like advice on the procedure and costs involved, Wolferstans can help you. 


Selling a Home

We are a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. By choosing a member you can be sure that your solicitor meets high standards set by the Law Society.


The Process of Selling a Home

Step 1

Once a buyer has been found and a sale price agreed, you will need to formally instruct your chosen solicitor.

You will need to complete a pack of forms which your solicitor will provide you with and pass them any guarantees/reports you have for work at the property. If the works involved obtaining planning permission and or buildings regulations approval, you should hand these documents to your solicitor along with any landowner’s consent which you may have had to obtain to comply with restrictions in your title deeds.

Step 2

Your solicitor will obtain your title deeds and / or copies of them from the land registry (if the property is registered) and will also obtain a redemption (settlement) figure from your lender to give them an idea how much is currently owing to your lender (if applicable).

If your property is leasehold, your solicitor will need the Lease and will also contact your freeholder or management company (if applicable) to obtain certain information. This information will include buildings insurance, copies of the last 3 years’ service charge figures, details of the current service charges payable, whether there are any arrears and indication of whether any large expenditure is anticipated in the next few years.

Step 3

Your solicitor will draft the contract and compile a contract pack which will be sent to the buyer’s solicitor.

Step 4

Your buyer’s solicitor will raise searches against the property.

After reviewing the contract papers, the buyer’s solicitor may also raise enquiries for you to respond to. If your property is leasehold, the buyer’s solicitor may also have some enquiries for the landlord or management company to deal with.

The buyer’s solicitor will also await receipt of the buyer’s mortgage offer (if applicable) which will confirm that adequate mortgage monies will be available to complete the buyer’s purchase of your property.

Once the buyer’s solicitor has received satisfactory searches, replies to enquiries and a mortgage offer, or, if the buyer is a cash buyer, evidence of the buyer’s source of funds, a target completion date will be negotiated between you and the buyer (and the rest of the chain if applicable).

Step 5

You will then meet with your solicitor to go through the sale contract and sign it in readiness for exchange of contracts.

You may also sign a Transfer Deed at this stage, which is the document which the buyer’s solicitor will send to the Land Registry following completion, so that the title to the property may be transferred from you to the new owner.

Step 6 "Exchange of Contracts"

Your solicitor and the buyer’s solicitor will perform an exchange of contracts over the telephone, which will create a legally binding contract and fix the completion date.

The signed contracts will then be swapped by the solicitors with the buyer’s solicitor paying the agreed deposit to your solicitor to be held until completion takes place.

Step 7

Your solicitor will obtain an up to date redemption statement (if applicable) from your lender, if the initial statement is no longer valid.

They will also obtain a commission account from your estate agent if you have one. They will then prepare a completion statement indicating how the sale proceeds are to be paid out.

Step 8 "Completion"

The buyer’s solicitor will forward the rest of the sale proceeds to your solicitor.

From the proceeds, your solicitor will deduct the legal fees, pay off the mortgage (where applicable) and pay the estate agent if you have one. Any money left over will be forwarded to you. Please note that if the property you sell is not your main residence, you may be liable to pay Capital Gains Tax to the Revenue. Please refer to the Inland Revenue link below or seek advice from a financial adviser for further details in this respect.

If you are buying a property simultaneously, your solicitor will send sufficient monies to the solicitor acting for your seller to complete that matter.

Step 9

If you have not already done so, you must deliver all the property keys to the agent (if you have one) by no later than 1pm as the buyer will now be entitled to collect the keys to their new home.

Step 10

Your solicitor will send the Transfer Deed and any title deeds to the property to the buyer’s solicitor.

For further information you can read our full guide to selling your home

If you are considering selling a property and would like advice on the procedure and costs involved Wolferstans would be happy to help you. 


Shared Ownership


What is shared ownership?

It is a method of home ownership where the buyer purchases a share of the property and pays rent on the share not purchased.

It is mainly intended for buyers whose incomes would make it difficult for them to purchase a property outright. It can be used for both houses and flats and is available primarily from a Registered Social Landlord (RSL), usually a Housing Association.


How does it work?

The buyer is granted a Lease (usually 99 or 125 years) and the RSL retains ownership of the freehold.

The Lease contains provisions enabling the purchase of further shares (called “staircasing”), usually in multiples of 10% as and when the shared-owner is able to afford them. The price of the shares is determined by an independent value by reference to the market value of the property at that time. As further shares are purchased, there is a corresponding reduction in the rent payable to the RSL.

If the purchaser attains 100% ownership, the RSL will transfer the freehold title in the house to the shared-owner, the Lease is effectively cancelled and the owner has no further involvement with the RSL. There are some exceptions where the right to acquire the freehold title does not apply but these are quite rare.

In the case of a flat, it is not possible for the owner to acquire the freehold so the shared ownership Lease is converted into a normal Lease. In these cases, the RSL continues as the Landlord and will usually collect a nominal annual rent together with any service charges payable under the Lease in respect of maintenance, insurance etc of the building within which the flat is located.


How common is shared ownership?

It is a growing trend and almost all new housing developments are required under their planning permissions to provide a certain number of affordable housing units.

The market for “second hand” shared ownership properties is also growing; however, due to certain restrictions imposed by the Lease, these properties do not always come onto the open market immediately. It is usual for the RSL to have nomination rights which enables it to nominate a purchaser from its waiting list. If it fails to do so within a specified period (usually 6 weeks), the property can be marketed through an estate agent.


Is it for me?

Shared ownership properties are acceptable to a large number of mortgage lenders, so mortgage finance is not usually a problem provided the buyer’s financial position satisfies the lender’s requirements.

One important distinction between properties held on shared ownership and those that are rented from either an RSL or local authority is that shared owners are responsible for their own maintenance and repairs.

If you are considering a shared ownership property and would like advice on the procedure and costs involved Wolferstans would be happy to help you. 


Remortgaging

When considering mortgage options, the products that fix the rate of interest payable on the loan amount for a specific number of months or years, help us to calculate our monthly outgoings with greater precision. The fixed term is usually a period of 2 to 5 years and thereafter interest on any unpaid balance will be subject to the Lender’s standard variable rate which can be an expensive way of borrowing money and increase the monthly payments considerably.

As such, remortgaging your property at the end of the fixed term of your current mortgage is likely to be of significant financial benefit to you in the long term.

Remortgaging your property may also be an option if you are looking to raise funds for home improvements or other life plans.

Once you have taken specialist advice from your Bank or Building Society or a mortgage broker as to the mortgage products that best suit your needs, our expert re-mortgaging lawyers in Plymouth will deal with the legal formalities of the new mortgage and they will guide you through the process which, in summary, includes:

  • Contacting your existing lender and requesting a redemption statement showing the balance outstanding under your current mortgage together with any administrative costs. (If you decide to pay off your existing mortgage before the end of the fixed term, you may also be liable for early repayment charges which will be accounted for in the redemption statement).
  • Providing a detailed written report to you on the terms of your new mortgage offer so as to ensure that they meet your specific requirements.
  • Meeting with you to discuss any concerns or queries you may have.
  • Ensuring that any special terms and conditions set out under the new mortgage offer are complied with.
  • Undertaking appropriate enquiries and investigations and reporting to your new lender accordingly.
  • Requesting drawdown of the mortgage funds under the new offer.
  • Redeeming your existing mortgage and ensuring the lender’s interest in your property is subsequently discharged.
  • Applying to the Land Registry to register the new mortgage and providing you and your new lender with the updated title information document.


Transfer of Equity

There are various circumstances in which it may become necessary to transfer equity in your home, for example, if you get married or if the property is part of the financial settlement in divorce proceedings.

Our transfer of equity lawyers will advise you as to the implications of adding or removing someone from the title.

We will take care of the entire legal process to include obtaining the consent of your mortgage lender to the transfer, drafting the deed of transfer and addressing the registration formalities at the Land Registry.


Equity release

Equity release is a mechanism that allows homeowners (usually over the age of 55) to unlock some of the capital that is tied up in their property to help fund retirement plans, pay for life plans or meet any other financial demands, for example.

There are two main equity release options:


Lifetime mortgage

This is similar to a standard mortgage, except there is no fixed date by which the mortgage loan is to be paid off. It is generally the case that loan must be repaid on completion of a sale of your property and a sale is triggered if you should go into long-term care or if you should pass away.

The amount of the loan depends on the value of your property – any existing mortgage or charge registered against the property must be paid off. Interest on the sum available for you to borrow is usually “rolled up” which means that it is repaid when your home is sold and so you are free from the burden of making monthly repayments.


Home reversion

This involves selling all or part of your home to a home reversion provider in exchange for a lump sum of money / lesser payments on an agreed schedule. Again, you will be entitled to stay in your own home until you move into long-term care or you pass away. The downside is that you will usually only get around 20-60% of the market value of your home, or the part of it you sell (depending on your age) but the advantage is that, as the sum advanced to you is not a loan but arises a part of a sale transaction, it will not be subject to any interest.

Our expert equity release lawyers in Plymouth will meet with you face-to-face to discuss the terms of your equity release mortgage/home reversion arrangements and to ensure that the terms of the offer are clear to you. We will also advise you on the implications of proceeding with this type of mortgage and the effects on your family and children and others who may benefit from your estate when you pass away.

We have the expertise to guide you through the equity release process with compassion and understanding, so that you may continue to enjoy living in your own home for the rest of your life.


Speak to our conveyancing solicitors in Plymouth

If you are planning to buy, sell or re-mortgage a home or if you are looking for clear, expert legal guidance regarding any land or property transaction, our friendly, expert and professional conveyancing lawyers in Plymouth will be more than happy to help.

To discuss your plans and requirements and to request a quote, please contact your local Wolferstans office in Plymouth, Plymstock or Plympton.

Have a question? Get in touch.

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