Moving House – Your questions answered

Moving house is not renowned for being a stress-free process. At Fairhurst Menuhin we want our clients to have peace of mind in knowing that a professional firm of solicitors is dealing with their property transaction.

There are many questions you may be asking and believe us when we say we’ve heard them all before. We’ve therefore answered your top questions:

Does moving day have to be a Friday?

Many people believe completion of a property transaction has to take place on a Friday – this is a myth. People may choose to complete on a Friday so that they have the weekend to unpack and settle into their new property. However, you can complete your property transaction at any point during the week.

When can I pick up the keys?

Completion of a property transaction has to take place before 2pm on the agreed completion date. This is a contractual term within every property contract. In some cases time of completion is amended within the contract to ensure completion takes place earlier. Once completion has taken place, your estate agents will be instructed to release the keys.

How long until I can move into my new house?

On average a property transaction can take anywhere between 12 to 16 weeks. The length of a property transaction is dependent on the length of the chain, mortgage requirements and the number of enquiries raised by the purchaser’s solicitors. If enquiries cannot be answered by the seller, negotiations may be required to resolve any issues.

When am I committed to purchasing the property?

Once contracts have been exchanged, you are then committed to purchasing the property. We may ask you to sign the contract before we exchange. However, you are not committing yourself to purchasing the property by signing the contract.

Can I rely on my mortgage provider’s valuation report?

You cannot rely on the valuation provided by your lender. Whilst your lender will insist on preparing their own valuation report, is very basic and does not reveal much about the property itself.  A homebuyers survey may reveal anything from small issues to full blown structural problems. It is therefore worth obtaining a survey to ensure you have a full understanding of the property.

Do I need to order searches?

What if, following the purchase of your dream home, you find that there is subsidence, a flood risk, a maintenance charge for the private driveway or that planning permission wasn’t obtained for the conservatory?  You need to be aware of any potential issues and the only way you can do this is by obtaining searches. The standard searches we would always advise clients to obtain are an Environmental Search, a Chancel Repair Search, a Water & Drainage Search and a Local Authority Search.

When should I insure the property?

We would always advise clients to make arrangements for building insurance from the date contracts are exchanged. If you are obtaining a mortgage it will actually be a requirement of the lender that insurance is in place from exchange of contracts.

If you would like to obtain a quote for your property sale or purchase, please click on the following link:


For a Ha’penny’s Worth o’Tar

Should I do my conveyancing online?

This morning I ordered my food shopping, booked a holiday and read the news online. I even considered purchasing a husband online. Yes, it is possible to rent a husband online. It’s an amazing thing; your husband can cook, clean – who thought a husband could do either of those! Anyway, this is not the point I’m trying to make. Managing your life online is cheap, efficient, and easy.

The same applies to online conveyancing. Many are choosing to undertake the legal side of buying or selling a property from behind a computer screen. In my rockets and aliens pyjamas, I can instruct an online conveyancer to take on the process in a cost-effective and hassle-free manner.

But are there risks? As with an internet husband, the saying ‘what you get is what you pay for’ applies to online conveyancing.

Moving home is, for most, the largest financial investment they will ever make. Conveyancing quotes and fees can be misleading. There are often hidden extras in the small print and the lack of local expertise can lead to greater costs and wasted time in the long run, when additional issues arise.

Short term savings vs. long term gains

Searches are carried out to discover additional information about a property that often isn’t obvious. This part of the process is crucial. Searches identify where planning permission may be granted for a future development affecting the worth of your property, including chancel rights, the quality of the ground on which your house is built, or details of common drains.

These various strands of investigation can bring to light different issues as well as problems common to an area that can affect each property differently. Online conveyancing companies do not guarantee the same conveyancer throughout the process and therefore cannot provide as efficient and locally knowledgeable service as a Saffron Walden- or Haverhill-based solicitor.

But what if all searches undertaken come up clear and you reach completion?

Consider what could happen if in a worst case scenario you discover major legal defects after completion, or even ten or fifteen years later. Sometimes the crucial information is not what is immediately apparent in the documents before you, but what you wouldn’t have the legal knowledge to identify yourself and is therefore concealed. This highlights the need for a qualified local solicitor to undertake the legal side of buying or selling a home.

“A good quality local solicitor who is familiar with the area and has a depth of knowledge is often better than solicitors out of town. In addition cheaper online options can often be a false economy and can cause delays and issues in the conveyance process.” Bruce King, Cheffins Estate Agents.

So, going back to cheap. While it is unwise to pay too much, it is worse to pay too little. When spending £100,000 on a property, is it truly worthwhile to save £100 by going online?

While it is not immediately apparent, your local solicitor can ensure a faster, more efficient and friendly process to guarantee your peace of mind. While the internet means I rarely need to venture out into the cold, there are occasions where I am tempted out of my woolly rockets and aliens pyjamas to visit my local friendly solicitor.

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Hailey Badger is a member of the Conveyancing team and may be contacted on +44 (0)1799 526 849 or +44 (0)7900 492 547.