On 29th October 2018 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced the last budget before Brexit. The two main changes which will affect conveyancing that were introduced are as follows:

1.  All first time buyers purchasing a shared ownership property up to the value of £500,000.00 will be exempt from stamp duty.

The change introduced in the Budget means that the first time buyer relief is extended to first time buyers of shared ownership properties up to a value of £500,000.00 in England and Northern Ireland that complete after the 29th October 2018.  The relief has also been backdated to 22nd November 2017 therefore any first time buyers that completed from that date but before the announcement yesterday will be able to apply to the Inland Revenue for a refund on any stamp duty they paid. To do this you will need the Unique Tax Reference (UTR) number from the application made by your solicitors on completion.

2. New Help To Buy Equity Loan for First Time Buyers to commence in April 2021

In 2013 the Government introduced the Help To Buy loan whereby the Government will lend buyers up to 20% of the value of a new build property.  The buyer is not charged any fees on the loan for the first five years of them owning the property.  There are certain requirements but the loans are not restricted to first time buyers only.

This will change from April 2021, a new Help To Buy loan will be introduced that will run for 2 years for first time buyers only and for houses with a market value of no more than a regional property price cap as set out below:

How The Budget Impacts Conveyancing

At present there is no further information available regarding the terms of the loan or fees payable, further guidance is required from the Government.

Talk to Tollers for all your conveyancing needs.

 

Are you looking to remove someone from the deeds for your home? Perhaps you need to remove an ex-partner or ex-spouse from the deeds as part of a divorce settlement or due to separation. Or you may wish to remove the name of a parent who joined in with your original purchase to help you onto the property ladder.

This change in legal ownership is called a ‘transfer of equity’ and it is usually a relatively straight-forward process.

The Mortgage

If you have a mortgage on the property, you will need to get the mortgage provider’s permission for the transfer. They will want to check that the person remaining on the deeds can afford to pay the mortgage. This may require a new mortgage application and will involve assessing the remaining party with regards to affordability and credit scoring. They may charge you an administration fee and may also require a new valuation to be carried out on the property.

Leasehold Property

If the property is leasehold, you may also need permission from your landlord to change the names on the deeds, although this is often only a formality. As your conveyancing Solicitor we will also need to serve notice on the Landlord after the transfer.  We will ask them to note the changes on their records, for which they may require payment of a nominal administrative fee.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty may also be payable in certain circumstances, depending on whether any money changes hands for the transfer and whether there is an existing mortgage on the property, although exceptions are made for transfers required under divorce proceedings.  See our article Stamp Duty on Transfers of Equity for more information on how this may affect you.

Talk to Tollers

It is important to note that we cannot extend our legal advice to both parties; we will act for you, and deal with any instructions given by your mortgage lender, but we cannot also act for the party whose name is coming off the deeds. We would always recommended that they take independent legal advice although in most cases, they won’t be obliged to do so.

Talk to Tollers for all your conveyancing needs click here.

Are you looking to add your new partner or spouse’s name to the deeds for your home? Perhaps your accountant has advised you to share ownership of your home with your children as part of your inheritance tax planning?

This change in legal ownership is called a ‘transfer of equity’ and it is usually a relatively straight-forward process.

Ownership Percentage

You will be asked to decide how you wish to own the property together; for example, whether you want to own it ‘equally’ or in specific percentage shares, and whether you want to protect one party’s financial contribution. If so, we can ask our Trusts and Estates team to prepare a Deed or ‘Declaration of Trust’ for you to reflect those intentions.

Mortgage

If you have a mortgage on the property, you will also need to get permission from your lender and the new co-owner will need to be approved before they can be added to the mortgage. This may require a new mortgage application and will involve assessing the additional person/people with regards to affordability and credit scoring. The mortgage company may charge you an administration fee and may also require a new valuation to be carried out on the property.

Leasehold Property

If the property is leasehold, you may need permission from your landlord to add names to the deeds, although this is often a formality. We will also need to serve notice on the Landlord after the transfer, asking them to note the changes on their records, for which they may require payment of a nominal administrative fee.

Stamp Duty

Stamp Duty may also be payable in certain circumstances, depending on whether money changes hands for the transfer and whether there is an existing mortgage on the property.  See our other article called Stamp Duty on Transfers of Equity for more information on how this may affect you.

If you have any queries regarding adding a name to deeds, Talk to Tollers for all your conveyancing needs.

When selling your home there will be words used frequently by your solicitors or conveyancer throughout the transaction.  In this article, we explain some of the most commonly-used terms you will encounter when selling a property:

Charge

The mechanism by which the mortgage is secured against the property.

Equity

The difference between the market value of the property and the amount owning on any loans secured on it.

Redemption

The repayment of the outstanding mortgage balance, usually upon completion, from the proceeds of the sale of the property.

Exchange

The stage at which the transaction becomes legally binding, when a completion date is agreed, and when each party’s signed and dated contracts are ‘exchanged’ in the post. In practice, this takes place as a telephone conversation between the selling and buying parties’ solicitors.

Early Repayment Charge

A financial penalty charged by the mortgage lender where a mortgage is repaid before the end of any fixed rate or discounted period; typically to reflect the loss of the interest which the lender would otherwise have received for the remainder of the fixed period.

The Completion Date

The date agreed at exchange of contracts, and the day on which the funds are transferred for the purchase and the keys for the (usually) vacant property are given to the buyer.

Occupier

Any person(s) (other than the legal owners) over the age of 17 that are living at the property.

Registered Proprietor(s)

The person or persons whose name(s) appears on the property register held by the Land Registry.

Disposition

The transfer of property (or an interest in property) to another party.

Transfer/Transfer Deed

The document which transfers the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.

At Tollers we have a dedicated conveyancing team who are happy to explain the terminology and process of selling your home. To find out more about our conveyancing services click here.

Buying or selling a home is sometimes a complex process, to ease the path we have compiled a list of common conveyancing terms we have Jargon Busted for you:

The Contract Pack

The bundle of paperwork prepared by the vendor’s solicitor sent to the purchaser’s solicitor, including a draft of the sale contract, a printout of the information held by the Land Registry, a plan of the property, the seller’s completed property forms and a schedule of the fixtures and fittings that will either remain at or be removed from the property upon completion.

The Local Search

A report on the information held by the local authorities in relation to the property, including historic planning applications and permissions granted under the Building Regulations; this is compulsory where purchasing with a mortgage.

Office Copies

A term typically used to describe a printout of the information held by the Land Registry in relation to the property, and considered ‘official’ where it is obtained directly from the Land Registry.

Covenants

These are legally-binding obligations and restrictions which govern the use and occupation of a property. They can require some positive action to be taken (e.g. to maintain a particular fence) or they can restrict or prohibit certain activity (e.g. a restriction on extending the property).

Enquiries

A series of questions raised with the vendor’s solicitor, typically relating to the property and the information contained in the contract pack, and sometimes repeating questions which the seller has perhaps not answered sufficiently, or at all. Enquiries must generally be limited to queries and issues which cannot otherwise be ascertained by the buyer themselves.

Chattels

Items of personal property which are to be left at the property at completion and either included in the sale or for which a separate sale price has been agreed.

Indemnity Insurance

A specific type of insurance policy used in conveyancing transactions to provide protection against costs or losses, where there is some or other problem or defect in the property or its use or ownership, which cannot be resolved easily or quickly by other means, or at all.

Vacant Possession

The obligation on the seller to hand over a property that is vacant, empty of all personal possessions (other than those which have been agreed will remain) and in a state in which the buyer can take immediate possession of a ‘substantial part of it’ and ‘without impediment’.

Confused about property jargon? Talk to Tollers. Our conveyancing team are here to walk you through the process of buying or selling your home. We have local conveyancing colleagues in each of our eight offices; Northampton, Milton Keynes, Oakham, Uppingham, Kettering, Corby, Stevenage and Kempston click here to find the contact details for each one.

Over the past 15 months, we have undertaken numerous transfers of land in Oakham, some more complicated than others, but all ending satisfactorily.

However, we have seen an issue arising in some areas of Oakham in respect of unregistered land.  Unregistered land is, as you will likely know, land acquired by the current owner long before compulsory registration was required when properties were bought and Oakham, like many places, has its fair share of these types of property.

When undertaking the routine checks required in relation to unregistered land, it has become apparent that there is a restriction registered with H M Land Registry which affects some properties in the area.  We have detailed the restriction more particularly below.

At some point in the past, a restriction known as a ‘Caution against First Registration’ was placed on certain areas of unregistered land in Oakham, meaning that in order to register the title, you must first have the restriction lifted.  This is not, in and of itself, difficult as the party with the benefit of the restriction is quite happy to do so.  However, they do require that a fee be paid to their solicitor for the production of the relevant document to remove the restriction.

This form, known as a Form WCT, can then either be registered by the vendor’s solicitor prior to exchange or alternatively, passed to the buyer’s solicitor for them to submit to the Land Registry with their application to change the register.

Unfortunately, there is no other way around this issue and sellers should be aware of the potential costs involved if the property is unregistered.  It is possible for sellers to contact H M Land Registry to ascertain whether their unregistered property is affected by such a restriction prior to looking to sell and this may be something to consider if you know you have not yet registered the property.

In addition to properties being sold on the open market, this restriction does also catch Transfer of Equities and Voluntary First Registrations, so if you are considering any of these transactions, please be aware that there may be a further additional cost involved, over and above the solicitor’s fees.

Talk to Tollers for all your buying and selling property requirements.

What is the Green Deal?  The Green Deal is a scheme that is aimed at mature properties in which homeowners can install energy saving measures with or without finance in order to improve the costs of the property’s energy bills.

Green Deal finance is not like a typical property loan or mortgage.  This loan does not require redeeming when the property is sold to a new buyer, instead, the loan stays on the property and is transferred to the new owner.  As the loan is not a legal charge, Conveyancers are solely dependent upon the Sellers confirming any such Green Deal Finance within the Law Society Protocol forms, in particular, the Property Information Form which forms part of the Draft Contract Package supplied at the beginning of a purchase transaction.

Such energy-saving improvements include loft insulation, new double glazing, energy efficient light bulbs and energy efficient boilers/central heating system.

When purchasing a property that has a Green Deal package, Buyers need to carefully check the terms of the original finance agreement made by the Green Deal provider as the repayment terms vary.  For example, the original deal may have been for a family of 4 and therefore would be beneficial to them having the agreement but may not work for you if you will be occupying the property solely as there could be an increase in the energy bills payable.

In theory, the repayments should be covered by the savings made on the energy bills from having the energy saving improvements made and an owner should not pay back more in the loan repayments than they are saving on their energy bills.

If you are buying a property that has had works to improve energy efficiency, tell your Conveyancer.  For more information about purchasing a property which benefits from the Green Deal Talk to Tollers

Buying your first property can be an exciting and daunting time.

Here are Tollers top five tips to ease you through the process of buying your first home;

1. Obtain a written quote so you are fully aware of the costs.

We would recommend you do not accept verbal quotations. Quotations obtained over the telephone may appear rather different when you compare the hard copy documentation.  We will provide you with a quote by email/letter and all our costs will be fully transparent.

Check the Conveyancers/Solicitors are competent in Help to Buy procedures.  This could be a Help to Buy Isa or a Help to Buy Equity Loan.

First Time Buyer Stamp Duty relief was announced on 22nd November 2017 – check whether you are eligible, click here for more information.

2. Choose the right Conveyancer/Solicitor to act for you

Local knowledge, experience and accessibility is key.  Tollers conveyancing teams all have conveyancers with over 10 years’ experience who are local to each of our offices (Northampton, Milton Keynes, Kempston, Kettering, Corby, Stevenage, Oakham and Uppingham).  We pride ourselves in delivering an excellent standard of customer service, 97.5% of our clients state they would use us again.

We are a full service firm so can refer you to other departments if necessary e.g. trust and estates (wills/declarations of trust).  There is no need to use another firm for any of your associated legal needs.

3. Communicate with your Conveyancer/Solicitor

We do not expect you to understand the whole process.  If you have any questions, ask.  Tollers use email/text and telephone so there will always be someone who can answer your questions/queries.

4. Use a solicitor approved by your Mortgage Lender

We are Lexcel and CQS accredited so approved to act on behalf of all major mortgage lenders.

5. Be organised

We provide all our first time buyers with a guide to purchasing their new home.  Working together we can assist you to be organised and achieve your desired completion dates.

Talk to Tollers if you are buying your first home, our friendly team of conveyancers will be delighted to help.

From the 1st April 2018, Stamp Duty in Wales will be no more. Now, do not get too excited about this as the Senedd, or Welsh Assembly Government, has simply replaced it with Land Transaction Tax, their own version of Stamp Duty.

This new tax will come into force on 1st April 2018 and will apply to all properties bought in Wales from that point on. In addition to the new tax, the Senedd has also set up a new governing body to regulate the tax and this will be called the Welsh Regulation Authority.

As with the current Stamp Duty Land Tax, the Land Transaction Tax will be payable on any residential property transaction in Wales. The tax will therefore apply to any property which can be considered to be used or suitable for use as a dwelling or land that forms part of the garden.

There will be some changes to the rates of tax payable under the new rules, some of which will be of benefit to purchasers and some which will not.  For transactions below the sum of £180,000.00 no stamp duty will be payable for main residences, although due to the higher starting threshold, there will be no First Time Buyer relief available.

This means that if a first time purchaser looks to buy a property for more than £180,000 in Wales, they will be subject to the Land Transaction Tax.

We understand from the current information available that there will be less tax payable for purchases made for less than £250,000 and the tax payable for properties valued at between £250,000 and £400,000 will be the same as that of the current Stamp Duty.

Unfortunately for those purchasing properties worth over £400,000, the cost levied in respect of the Land Transaction Tax will be higher than that in England.  Apparently, the Senedd believed that there would not be too many high value transactions within Wales!

Additional residential properties (or second homes) will still be subject to a higher rate of Tax, although it will still be possible to reclaim the additional Tax from the Welsh Regulation Authority if you sell a main residence within three years of purchasing the new main residence.

For those properties which straddle the border (known as cross border transactions), it becomes a little more complicated.  There is now a definitive map held by H M Land Registry showing the border between England and Wales, meaning that it should be possible to establish exactly where the border falls within boundaries of a property.  From the information we have been given to date, tax payable on the property will need to be split or ‘apportioned’ in accordance with how much land is on either side of the border.  Buyers will have to pay Stamp Duty on the land in England and Land Transaction Tax for the land in Wales.  This will mean submitting two separate Tax forms, one to H M Revenue and Customs and one to the Welsh Regulations Authority.

It has been suggested that the best way to work out the value of such land is to employ a land surveyor who will be able to provide accurate figures to the buyer.  There has been no indication as to who would be responsible for such an action but it may be that the additional cost could put off potential buyers if they are expected to pay the whole cost of such a survey.

There will, of course, be other considerations to take into account in respect of the Land Transaction Tax, and I think it fair to say that this is going to be an interesting few months whilst we all come to grips with the new Regulations.

If you require advice or assistance purchasing property in Wales, Talk to Tollers.

Property has become a target for fraud, fraudsters are pretending to be the owners of and have been known to sell or mortgage a property that does not belong to them.

It is therefore important to protect yourself against such a fraud which is more easily committed in the following circumstances:

1.            If your property is still unregistered.

2.            If a property is rented.

3.            If the property is empty.

4.            If there is no mortgage registered against the property.

Steps you can take to try and protect yourself

If the property is unregistered, we advise that you take legal advice on how to submit your title deeds to the land registry as a voluntary application to have your deeds registered.  It is only compulsory to register title if you purchase a title that is unregistered at the point of sale or charge (mortgage).

In the other above-mentioned circumstances you can:

1.            Ask your solicitor to apply for a restriction to be placed on the registers which states that the property cannot be transferred or mortgaged without your solicitor or conveyancer supplying a certificate to the land registry and that the person applying to change the register is you.  Any solicitor or conveyancer is obliged to carry out identity checks on their clients whenever a transaction takes place.

2.            It is crucial to keep your contact details up to date with the land registry so that they are able to contact you if necessary. You are allowed to give up to 3 contact addresses which may be an email address or an address abroad.

3.            There is a free property alert service offered by the land registry which you can sign up to at www.gov.uk/property-alert or you can telephone the property alert team on 0300 006 0478.

It is possible to monitor up to ten properties in England and Wales even if you do not own them, so you could monitor for instance, an elderly parents property or a property where you act as an attorney for the owner.

If you suspect that a property fraud is taking or has taken place, then you should call the property fraud line at the land registry on 0300 006 7030.

If you have concerns regarding property fraud the Talk to Tollers conveyancing team.

All things Tollers

We partner with...