Buyers Guide

A list of frequently asked questions

| All you need to know

Here at Ashley James Solicitors we understand that moving house can be a very stressful time for you and we will do our best to make it as easy as possible for you.

To help guide you through the process we have put together a list of frequently asked questions which we hope will help answer some of the questions you may have at this stage.


Why do you need identification from me?

It is a legal requirement that we obtain ID documents from you. As part of the money laundering regulations we must obtain identity from you to safeguard against money laundering and mortgage fraud.


How long will it take to exchange and complete??

On average, it takes approximately 6-8 weeks for a conveyancing transaction to complete. Having said that, in cases where there is no chain and there are no difficulties with the title to the property, that timescale can be greatly reduced. When there is a long chain of transactions, or there are complications, the transaction can take longer than 6-8 weeks. If you need different timescales then let us know and we’ll always do our best to help you.


What is the difference between exchange and completion??

Exchange of contracts takes place once all parties in the chain are ready to exchange and the completion date has been agreed by all parties. When contracts are exchanged there is then a binding agreement for you to buy/sell the property and the completion date is fixed. Following exchange of contracts no-one can pull out of the transaction and the completion date is fixed. Completion is when the money is paid for the property and the ownership of the property changes. On the day of completion the buyer will get the keys to the property and be able to move in.


When will I get the keys and be able to move in to the property
Generally you will not be able to get the keys until the purchase has completed on the day of the agreed completion at 2:00pm. The time is normally stated in the contract and the property must be vacant by the time in the contract.  However if the seller agrees you may be able to have access to the property between exchange and completion if you wish to decorate or similar 

Who is responsible for insuring the property?
Under the terms of the sale contract the buyer is responsible for insuring the property from exchange of contracts, and if you are having a mortgage your mortgage lender will make it a condition of your mortgage offer to have insurance from exchange of contracts. You need to have this in place before exchange.

When should I start booking things and making arrangements for completion?
As the completion date (moving day) is not guaranteed until contracts have been exchanged, we would recommend that you do not book your removals until this has taken place. If your situation might be different, for example with exchange and completion taking place on the same day, speak to us and we’ll advise you on the best course of action. 

Which searches will you do for me?

The following searches will be done on your behalf The Local search, the drainage search, Environmental search. If you require any extra searches please let us know.


When will the searches be done?
Once we have received your money on account (which will be deducted from your final bill) and a plan from the seller’s solicitors. It is always advisable to wait until a plan of the property is to hand before sending for the search, as there may be uncertainty as to the extent of the property. You need to tell us if you want us to hold off incurring this expense for you.  

Should I have a survey done?
It is preferable for you to have a survey carried out and we would always recommend that you have a survey carried out by a qualified independent surveyor. We do not normally obtain a copy of the survey and if you are concerned about anything or would like us to have a look at the survey for you, you will need to forward the survey to us.

Should I have the gas and electrics/other services checked??
You will take these as you find them and we therefore recommend that you obtain checks for these services.

When do I pay the legal fees?
You are normally asked to provide us with money on account when you first instruct us, this is to allow us to start the searches on your behalf. In order to exchange contracts on your behalf we will need your deposit from you. The rest of the money will be requested from you after exchange of contracts (we send you a detailed completion statement at that time) and we will require cleared funds from you (usually on the day prior to completion).

Do I have to pay stamp duty??

You have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) if you buy a property in the UK over a certain price. This is charged on all purchases of houses, flats and other land and buildings.

The SDLT rate depends on:

  • the purchase price of the property
  • whether the property is residential

SDLT may also be due if you lease a property.


What will I be charged if the transaction falls through??

Unless we agree otherwise if your transaction falls through we will charge a proportion of our fee which relates to the amount of work we have carried out, therefore the cost to you will depend on what stage the transaction failed. Any expenses (disbursements) already incurred on your behalf will also be payable.

What happens if you cannot attend our offices to sign the documents?
It is not necessary for you to be able to visit our offices. We can deal with everything using post, email, telephone and fax. However if you would prefer to meet with your solicitor we will arrange a convenient time for you. 

Is there parking near your offices?
Yes, there is plenty of off road parking available near our offices, however there are certain restrictions on the time and hours of parking, so if you are concerned about this, please call us before you visit our offices.

What are your opening hours?
Our offices are open Monday – Friday from 9am – 5pm. We have an hour for lunch from 1pm-2pm.