1. What is the difference between freehold and leasehold properties?
The main difference between freehold and leasehold interests is that if you buy a freehold property you and your successors in title have the right to stay on that piece of land forever. However, when you buy a leasehold property you only get the right to occupy the property or land for however long the lease may be. The freehold, behind the lease, is retained by somebody else (the landlord) to whom an annual rent is usually payable for the use of the land.
The reason for the requirement of leases lies in the physical difference between a flat and a house. A flat is usually part of a larger building which is divided up into other flats which are separately owned. It is therefore essential that the rights and obligations of each individual flat owner in the building are regulated with particular reference to the liability concerning the repair and upkeep of the building in which their flat is situate. A lease provides that individual flat owners enter into obligations that constitute a permanent code of regulation for the building.
For more information concerning leaseholds generally please see our "Guide to Leasehold Property"
2. Why are searches carried out prior to buying or leasing commercial or residential property and what do they entail?
Searches are carried out in an attempt to ascertain as much information as possible regarding the property so that you can make your decision whether to purchase or lease.
Some searches are a requirement of your lender (if applicable) and have to be carried out in any event.
Searches come in many shapes and sizes and the amount and type of search depends upon the location of the property in question.
For instance, properties in Cornwall will require a tin mining search to be carried out; properties in Manchester may require a coal mining search.
For a full list of the type of searches and what they may or may not reveal please see our related article on searches.
3. Why do I have to pay a deposit to my seller on exchange?
Payment of deposit on exchange is the buyer's act of good faith.
Customarily a deposit of 10% of the purchase price is paid on exchange to the sellers solicitors although these days often a 5% deposit or less will be acceptable.
If the buyer defaults on the contract and fails to complete then the seller can retain the deposit.
A full explanation of deposits and indeed all aspects of conveyancing transactions can be found in our "Home Buyer" and "Home Sellers" Guides which we send to all our clients at the outset of residential conveyancing transactions.
4. How are your costs calculated?
If we can we will give you a written fixed estimate of our costs at the outset of a conveyancing transaction, whether residential or commercial.
Sometimes it is not possible to be certain of the amount of time we will need to spend on a transaction.
We calculate our costs by trying to assess the amount of time we will spend on your transaction.
For example, we do not charge for receiving a letter but we do charge for the time engaged on the telephone, preparing relevant documents and letters, considering letters, documents and so on.
We operate a time recording system so that all time spent on a matter is properly and accurately archived. This makes it easier for us to prepare and justify bills rendered to our clients.
Full details concerning costs are contained in our Terms of Business which we send to all our clients at the outset of any transaction.