First, your estate agents will send us a copy of the Memorandum of sale, which provides the details of the property, the amount offered and the name of the sellers and buyers and their conveyancers. You will be asked to complete your details and provide to us your instructions along with primary ID such as a passport or driving licence and proof of residence in the form of a bank statement/utility bill.
Tailored legal guidance from Gateway Conveyancing
Gateway Conveyancing offers an extensive range of legal support for your home. From sales and purchasing, to re-mortgaging, help-to-buy and equity transfer, we are here to assist you.
Buying: The Process
Once you have your offer accepted: it's time to get the ball rolling on legally transferring the ownership to you. Read our guide below for more information on the ‘Buying Process’.
Mortgage in place?
If you have a mortgage offer in principle – a statement to say how much your lender will lend you – this is when you contact them to inform them that you have made an offer, the amount and to pass on the property details.
You will be asked by us to complete your details and provide your instructions. The seller will complete a fixtures fittings and contents form and an information form providing specific details about the property. Their conveyancers will obtain details of any mortgages on the property and will ask lenders how much is outstanding so that this can be paid out of the sale proceeds on completion.
Arrange a surveyor
Once your lender has received all of your details they will arrange for a surveyor to value the property. Now is a good time to consider the survey choices. Remember that the valuation report issued by the lender’s surveyor is very basic and not for your benefit. How much a survey costs will vary on whether you opt for a basic survey – also known as a homebuyer’s report – or a full structural survey. The latter is strongly recommended if you are looking at an old or listed property.
We will request the contract pack, which includes the contract, the seller’s property information forms and the land registry documents of title, from the seller’s conveyancer. Once received we will order any relevant searches such as Local Authority, Drainage, Environmental or locality searches such as Coal Mining.
Issue of contract
We will then examine the documents provided and raise enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer following which we will send you a legal report. This will contain information about the title to the property and a preliminary draft of the contract and transfer for you to sign. You should read the contract carefully, sign it and return it to us. The transfer is the legal document which both seller and buyer sign to transfer the ownership of the property. This must be signed in the presence of an independent witness over the age of 18 years. The original should be sent back to us.
Sign mortgage deed
When your mortgage lender makes an offer, they will send us a copy. When they do this they ask us to act for them as well as you so that we can check through any special conditions and verify whether the details held by the lender are correct. We will send you a report and a mortgage deed to sign. The mortgage deed should be signed in the presence of an independent witness over the age of 18 years. The original should be sent back to us. You will also receive a financial statement showing the money required to complete.
Deposit payment required
Once any outstanding issues with the searches, mortgage and enquiries are resolved, we’ll need your deposit – this is normally 10% of the purchase any balance will be payable just before completion having taken into account the mortgage funds and adding in all fees and disbursements.
Buying and selling
If you are buying and selling simultaneously, we would normally use the deposit received from your purchaser to pass on to your seller, and the same will happen all the way along the chain. Even if a reduced deposit is paid on exchange, the full 10% becomes immediately payable under the terms of the contract, in the unlikely event of completion being delayed. At this point the chain will begin the process of agreeing a completion date in readiness for exchange of contracts. We will do a final check over all of the documents and the sellers conveyancer will obtain final redemption statements for any mortgages on the property.
Protect your investment
It’s important to have buildings insurance in place by the exchange date. This will be a condition of your mortgage lender and will protect your investment in the property and your mortgage lender’s interest as well.
Exchange Of Contracts
When the contracts have been exchanged, both seller and buyer are contractually bound to complete on the agreed completion date. The conveyancers usually exchange contracts over the telephone and then send the completed signed contracts by post. Exchanging contracts by your conveyancer legally binds both parties to transferring the property so you can rest assured that the seller must vacate on the day of completion. Mortgage monies will be requested from your lender and the paperwork will be collated in readiness for completion.
On the agreed day of completion, we will send the outstanding balance of the purchase price which you have provided to us, including the money received from your mortgage lender, to the seller’s conveyancer by telegraphic transfer. As soon as they receive the monies they will let us and the estate agents know and keys can be released. The property will then be legally yours.
Informing land registry
Following completion, your conveyancer will pay stamp duty land tax on your behalf. They will also let the Land Registry know that you are the new owner of the property and that the mortgage lender has an interest in your property.
Deed of title
You will receive a copy of the title information document showing you as owner a few weeks later.
Selling: The Process
When it comes to selling a house, it's likely that you will need a conveyancer to act on your behalf to complete the legal work, once an offer has been made. It's worthwhile instructing a conveyancer as early on in the process as possible, so that everything can be prepared for when a buyer is found.
Once you have instructed a conveyancer to act for your house sale, they will complete an ID check. You will have to provide your primary ID, such as a passport or driving licence as well as proof of residence in the form of a bank statement or utility bill.
We will get further details from you about the sale, such as, any known costs for paying back your mortgage early and any after leasehold details. At this stage we will also let you know what forms you will need to complete.
Calculating outstanding monies
If you have a mortgage (or other loan) secured on the house you are selling, your conveyancer will request a redemption figure from your lender to find out how much is outstanding, this figure will then be paid out of your sale proceeds on completion.
If the property you are selling is a leasehold, we will contact your landlord / management company to find out more details about how the lease works and whether there are any works due to be done or payments outstanding etc.
Requesting Title Of Deeds
We will then need to obtain a copy of the title and send a draft contract to the buyer’s conveyancer.
If you bought or re-mortgaged the house you are selling, in the last 25 years, it’s likely that the property is registered at the Land Registry, showing you as owner, they should also have a plan of the property and any additional documents they hold for the property.
If no transactions have taken place in the last 25 years, then the property could be unregistered and you should have the title deeds to the property. You may hold these or your lender may have them if you still have a mortgage, either way we will need these to sell the property.
Completing forms for the house you are selling
Before you exchange contracts, you’ll need to complete or supply detailed forms to your buyers about the property and what you intend to include with the sale. This can include a Property Information form which includes some specific details about the property, its boundaries, any alterations to the property etc. and a Fixtures, Fittings and Contents form to say what you will be taking and leaving behind.
These will then all be sent to the buyer’s conveyancers, along with any additional documents you have provided. Your buyers may then instruct searches and arrange for a survey to be carried out on the property.
Exchange of contracts
When the contracts have been exchanged, both seller and buyer are contractually bound to complete on the agreed completion date. The conveyancers usually exchange contracts over the telephone and then send the completed signed contracts by post. Exchanging contracts legally binds both.
Completing your house sale
Both seller and buyer are legally obliged to complete on the date stated when you exchanged contracts.
On the day of completion, the buyer’s conveyancers will transfer the money to purchase your property to us by telegraphic transfer. As soon as this has been received, we will then use this to pay off any outstanding balances such as, the existing mortgage on the property, the estate agents’ invoice or leasehold charges and then transfer legal ownership.
Time to move out!
We will then send the signed transfer to the buyer’s solicitors so that they can register the transfer of ownership with the Land Registry.
You must remember to keep paying the mortgage and home insurance until after completion.
You may also want to set up a temporary postal redirection service, so your mail gets delivered to your new address.
We will then account for your conveyancer, estate agent or mortgage costs and pay any balance to you by bank transfer.
Remortgage: The Process
There are lots of reasons why you might be thinking is it time to remortgage your home. Your mortgage is likely to be the biggest ongoing financial commitment in your life, so it's only right that you want to keep it in the best shape possible. If your current deal's coming to an end, you could find a more suitable arrangement by shopping around.
Even if your mortgage has time left to run, it may be worth looking at the exit costs involved. Consider if your circumstances have changed, or if the interest rate has
changes since you took out the original loan. If the savings
you'll make outweigh these costs, then it can still be a great
idea to switch. On the other hand, if you’d like to pay more into your mortgage, you might need to change provider in order to
do so. Whether you’re earning more at work or have received a windfall, there are plenty of reasons why you might want to pay off your mortgage sooner.
Another common reason for thinking is it time to remortgage is if your property's significantly increased in value. This can help to bring down your payments substantially. Or it can allow you to take some additional borrowing out of your home for something like an extension or a new car. Whether it's one of these reasons or something else that's making you think is it time to remortgage your home, read on for our step‐by‐step guide on how to go about doing so.
Instruct your conveyancer
Once given permission to begin the process, we will check the legal status and title of your home. This helps to establish that your property fits the bill for a new mortgage.
Check your current mortgage status
If there are any outstanding payments due on your current mortgage, then they must be repaid at completion. The total amount, which is effectively the cost of freeing yourself from your current deal, will be confirmed to us by your current lender.
Do your checks
Some mortgage lenders require us to carry out local, drainage or mining searches, which can make the transaction slower and costlier. With others, it’s sufficient to take out indemnity insurance. If you need to have a search done, we will discuss this with you and you will probably need to make a small upfront payment to cover the cost.
Consider the offer
One of the most important steps is to go through the mortgage offer you receive from the lender. You need to check that all of the figures are accurate in terms of what’s outstanding on your mortgage, and the mortgage product you’re signing up to. And as well as making sure that the repayment method’s correct and checking any early repayment fees, you need to be sure that the amount you’re going to be paying will work for you during the period of the new mortgage.
Sign on the dotted line
Once you’re happy with the terms of your re-mortgage, you’ll need to sign the new mortgage deed along with any other documentation required by your new lender. It’s best to return this to us as quickly as possible, to avoid any delays.
Prepare for any shocks
Make sure that you fully understand all of the terms and conditions of your new offer. For instance, if the new mortgage amount’s less than what your existing lender’s owed, you’ll be expected to make up the difference. This will need to be paid before the completion date, so make sure you don’t give yourself any nasty surprises.
Go over things
After completion, we will register the new mortgage at the Land Registry and provide proof of this to your new lender.
Sometimes there may be certain situations which add slight complications to the re-mortgaging process. However, they shouldn’t prove to be too much of a problem. For example, if there’s been a breakdown in a relationship, this can mean that the ownership of a property changes. As things can get quite complex, it’s important to have someone that knows what they’re doing.
Another area which requires some extra steps is if your property is leasehold. If this is the case, your landlord will have to confirm that all ground rent, service charges and insurance premiums are up to date, where applicable. The wording of the lease will need to be approved by your conveyancer, while your landlord will also be provided with notices concerning your existing and new mortgage.
Whether the process is straightforward or has a quirk or two that needs ironing out, re-mortgaging your home can be a great way to improve your finances.
Transfer of equity
There are any number of reasons why you might wish to change who has legal ownership of your home, without putting it on the market and selling. Perhaps your partner is moving in and you'd like to own the property together, or you want to give your adult children some security giving them a stake in your property. Whatever the reason, you'll need to complete what's known as a transfer of equity process.
What is equity?
Equity is a legal term that explains how much of a property you own. You can think of it as the value of the home minus any outstanding mortgage. So if your property is worth £280,000, and you have £150,000 left to pay off on your mortgage, your equity would be £130,000.
What is a transfer of equity?
A transfer of equity occurs when a property’s owner adds or removes a person (or people) to or from the title on the home, altering the ‘ownership’ of the property from a legal perspective. Despite what the name suggests, it doesn’t necessarily involve the transfer of any money.
A transfer of equity is most commonly applied when a couple marries and moves in together, or conversely, if they divorce and one party chooses to leave the home. In either situation, a transfer of equity allows for changing names on house deeds, to reflect the property’s new ownership situation. You can think of it as one person ‘buying out’ another’s share in a home, or ‘selling’ and splitting the shares they already have to allow another person to join them in ownership.
Of course, not all transfer of equity situations are so simple. In fact, a transfer of equity is required for any change of ownership where at least one of the original owners stays on the title. That means there could be more than two parties involved, such as in a scenario where someone is taken of the title and replaced by another in a single transfer.
In a transfer of equity where a party is leaving, the remaining party will need to ‘buy’ the other party out. In most cases, this will involve re-mortgaging with the existing lender or transferring the mortgage to a new provider altogether. The leaving party will then receive their share of any equity.
There’s also a form of transfer of equity known as a ‘gift’. This is a scenario where no money changes hands, such as a parent adding a child to their property title deeds and therefore giving them a share of ownership, without them having to pay or invest.
How do I go about a transfer of equity?
Because at least one party will remain in ownership, a transfer of title deeds is usually a much simpler process than a standard property sale or purchase. Nonetheless, there’s still a lot of legal work involved, which is why it’s strongly recommended you appoint a conveyancer to guide you through the process and help push your transfer through.
The backbone of the process is the land registry TR1 form, which will need to be completed. It outlines who the current owner(s) – the ‘transferor(s) – are, and who the new owner(s) – the ‘transferee(s)’ – will be. You’ll also need to have official copies of the property’s title with you, along with comprehensive contractual information regarding any mortgages.
If there isn’t a mortgage, things are fairly straightforward. All parties just need to sign the transfer deed (TR1 form) and file it with the land registry. This needs to be accompanied by the land registry’s AP1 form, and if the value of the transaction amounts to more than £40,000, then a stamp duty land tax certificate may also be required.
In a situation where there is a mortgage that will remain in place after the transfer, you’ll need consent from the lender first. If you’re adding someone to the property’s ownership and title then the mortgage lender will want them to become equally liable for the mortgage, and they’ll need to carry out their own checks to ensure the person(s) is/are suitable. They’ll then carry out a remortgage in most cases, following the same process as when the original mortgage was taken out. If someone is being removed from the title deeds, the outgoing person(s) will need to be absolved of their mortgage obligations, and the lender will want to be certain that the remaining party(s) are financially capable of repaying on the new mortgage after the outgoing person(s) have left. In both situations, your mortgage lender may refuse to give consent if they have concerns.
Transfer of equity: step by step
Apply for a re-mortgage/new mortgage (if you need one). Because the property’s ownership is changing, affecting its equity, your mortgage provider will need to account for this. Speak to your provider or financial adviser about your options and if possible, agree a mortgage in principle.
Instruct a conveyancer. If someone will be joining your title, both parties can be represented together. However, if someone is to leave, the parties will need to have separate legal representation. All parties will need to provide identification. If the leaving party is to be paid, the conveyancer will have to confirm the source of funds to be used.
Let your conveyancer take care of the legal work. As part of their fee, your conveyancer will confirm things with your mortgage provider (if required), as well as the property’s freeholder (if there is one). They’ll then send on the mortgage deed for you to sign (if needed).
Complete. Your conveyancer will facilitate the transfer of any funds between parties. Outgoing parties will need to complete and sign an ID1 form, in the presence of a conveyancer.
After-completion. Your conveyancer will calculate any Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) liable to HMRC and facilitate payment of it. They’ll also ensure details of the new ownership are logged with the Land Registry.
How much does it cost to change the name on house deeds?
How much a transfer of equity costs will vary hugely, based upon your circumstances.
First and foremost, you’ll have your conveyancing fees, which will be calculated on many factors; such as your property’s value or whether or not you need to re-mortgage. In most cases, the fees will amount to between £350 and £500 +VAT.
Your conveyancer may or may not include cover for additional charges within their service. Such charges include about £8 for online ID checks, £3 for a copy of the property’s Register of Title, and between £20 and £125 to register the change of ownership with the land registry – the latter depending on your property’s price bracket.
Your mortgage lender may also add their own fees, to cover their administrative costs involved with enacting the change.
But the largest cost involved is usually transfer of equity Stamp Duty Land Tax. Where a party is taking on equity or a mortgage worth more than £125,000 in total, then Stamp Duty Land Tax may need to be paid on it. The precise amount owed is calculated using bands. If a party is leaving the property’s title due to divorce, then no Stamp Duty Land Tax will be owed.
If you’re weighing up a transfer of equity and would like the advice of a conveyancer, contact our team on 01702 443548 today.
Disclaimer: The article above is only a rough guide to give you some idea of what is involved in a transfer of equity.
It is essential that you receive independent legal advice as part of any equity release. So much so, that it is part of the Equity Release Council's (the industry body for UK equity release) ‘rules–and regulations’.
Why do I need an equity release solicitor?
As stated above, independent legal advice is a requirement of the equity release process. Having an equity release solicitor ensures that you have had not just financial, but also legal advice on the implications of taking out equity release.
It also acts as an extra safeguard for you from any 'rogue' equity release advisors or any undue influence from a third party.
Remember your legal team work for you. No advisor, lender, or another party can force you to use any particular legal team. It is your free choice which legal team you use.
Your equity release lender will also have a solicitor to represent them. The role of the lender's solicitor will primarily be to ensure that the equity release provider can secure a first legal charge over the property on which the loan is taken out.
Taking out an equity release plan is an important decision, and it is vital that you receive expert, impartial financial advice to find the best plan for you. If you would like help with your equity release options, you are welcome to call us on 01702 443 548.
Once you have discussed your options with a financial adviser and made the decision to proceed, your legal team will be instructed to give you independent legal advice.
How do I choose an equity release solicitor?
If you have a regular solicitor that you use, you should mention them to your adviser. Your adviser will be able to check with the equity release lender that the solicitor is on their panel and meets their requirements.
How much will my equity release solicitor cost?
Charges will vary between different solicitors, so it is advisable to obtain quotes before instructing anyone to act for you on your equity release.
As a guideline, we would recommend allowing £995 including VAT for your solicitor fees.
In addition there may be money laundering checks, bank transfer charges, obtaining land registry copies and VAT.
There are also additional legal services that you may require as part of your application process.
Examples of these services include dealing with:
- third party lawyers in divorce cases and title transfers;
- Changes of name deed – e.g. if title deeds are still in a maiden/married surname and you have since changed your surname;
- CCJ's & restrictions on title deeds;
- Bankruptcy issues & third party lawyers;
- Lease extension & third party lawyers;
- Property sale/purchase & third party lawyers;
- Freehold title split;
- Breaking a Trust;
- Transferring a property (into single or joint names);
- Varying a solar panel lease.
These will involve additional costs, so please remember to check with the solicitor you wish to instruct how much extra they will charge.
There may be certain situations that arise whereby additional solicitors will be required.
If there are additional occupiers aged 17 or over permanently residing in your property, they will likely be required to sign an 'occupier's waiver' form. This could include family members or lodgers. The occupiers will probably need to obtain a solicitor for legal advice and to act as a witness for the document signing. If the other occupier is also a party to the equity release application, they will not require separate solicitors.
If equity release is being used as part of a divorce settlement, then both parties will be required to have their own solicitor.
If you are extending your lease as part of your equity release application, then you will require agreement from the freeholder. Once they have agreed to extend the lease, they will instruct their own solicitor to liaise with your equity release solicitor.
Transfer of property title, whether it is from Joint to single ownership or single to joint ownership, will require both parties to have a different solicitor.
Such circumstances will come at an additional cost and may require up-front payment.
If you are concerned about how your circumstances could impact the legal costs for equity release, get in touch, and we will gladly help.
If you have further questions, why not speak with one of our qualified advisors?
Call us on 01702 443 548.
While a qualified equity release advisor has written this guide, it is not intended to be used as financial nor legal advice and should not be relied upon.
To understand the full features and risks of an Equity Release plan, ask for a personalised illustration.
What does my legal team do during the equity release process?
At the start of the equity release application process, you are required to instruct a legal team to act for you.
1. Case opening
Your legal team will open a case file and provide you with your unique reference number. You will need it whenever you contact them for updates or provide them with information.
2. Welcome pack
You will be sent an introductory pack with information about their service and also some forms to complete:
Equity Release Questionnaire
This form is your acceptance of the firm acting on your behalf and agreement of their terms and conditions. It may seem like there are many questions. However, they are all applicable to your equity release application. They will also allow your legal team to offer the best service to you.
Confirmation of bank details
This form will need to be completed and returned to the solicitor with a copy of your bank statement. This will allow your legal team to carry out their checks against fraud and ensure that when sending the final funds to you, they arrive safely into your bank account.
3. Title deeds check
Your legal team will obtain an official copy of your title deeds from Land Registry. This will provide them with details of your property, together with any mortgage or secured loans against your property.
They will also review the deeds to see if anything else may need addressing that could cause delays in the process. We will explore some of these instances later in the article.
Once the lender makes the formal offer, both you and your legal team will receive separate copies.
This is the point where the legal team start to prepare their legal advice for you.
5. Signing meeting
Regardless of how you opt to receive your legal advice, you are required to have a physical meeting to witness the signing of the mortgage deed.
At this meeting, you will be able to ask any questions that you may have about the legalities of your equity release plan.
Once you and your legal team are happy, you will be asked to sign the mortgage deed.
The signing of the mortgage deed marks the point where you are formally accepting the terms of the equity release.
6. Identity checks
Your legal team must check your identity to comply with Money Laundering Regulations. As above, it is also a legal requirement that they meet with you face to face to witness the signing of the mortgage deed. So often, your legal team will check your ID documents during your face-to-face meeting. Your meeting will usually be arranged once you and your legal team have received your offer, to tie in with signing the mortgage deed.
Your legal team will also require proof of ID and Proof of address and the following documents that may be used:
ID and Age
- Valid Passport
- Valid photocard driving licence
- National identity card (for non-UK nationals)
- Firearms certificate or shotgun licence
- Identity card issued by the Electoral Office for Northern Ireland
- Don't worry if you don't have any of the above photo ID. You will be able to use a valid old-style paper driving licence alongside recent evidence of state or local authority funded benefit (such as housing benefit and council tax benefit or tax credit documentation, pension and educational or other grants).
- Please note that ID documentation must show your full legal name.
Proof of Address
- Bank/Building Society/Credit card statement (dated within the last three months)
- Household or domestic utility bill (dated in the last three months)
- Council tax bill (current year)
Your solicitor will send the signed documents to the lenders' solicitor to review.
Once the signed mortgage deed has been sent to the lender's solicitors, they will review the entire case. These final checks are to make sure that all documents are ready for the case to complete (and you to receive your money).
If any questions are raised, the two parties will liaise, and ensure any additional requirements are met, so that all is in place ready for completion.
This part of the process can take a very short, or a very long time to complete. This is another reason why it is crucial that you have a legal team that has handled equity release advice before. It is even better if they are familiar with what specific lenders require!
If you are paying off your existing mortgage with your equity release funds, it will be taken care of for you and paid. Your legal team will also, if instructed, pay any fees due at completion.
You will then receive the remaining funds into your bank account!
Your legal team and my title deeds
When your legal team reviews your title deeds, they will check if there is anything that may delay or prevent the equity release process taking place. If anything is highlighted, they will advise you on the best way to proceed.
The types of things they will look out for may include:
- any restriction, such as a Trust in place (this would need to be removed to proceed with equity release);
- a Tenants in Common restriction – we have a handy related article all about equity release for tenants in common;
- any land restrictions that may need to be explored;
- a Solar Panel lease;
- a partner who has previously passed away, and is still on the title deeds that will need to be removed during the equity release process.
If anything should come to the legal teams’ attention, they will be in contact with you and with us, with any action required to proceed with your equity release application.