Solicitor Blog: Alexander JLO Solicitors: Frequently Asked Questions

Following on from our previous post we are delighted to be back to answer some frequently asked questions!

Purchasing a property, especially your first property can be a daunting yet exciting experience. This blog post will hopefully answer some of the initial queries and most frequently asked questions we receive in relation to the Conveyancing process and the legal work we do.

When exactly do I instruct a solicitor?

There is a common misconception that you have to wait until your mortgage application has been accepted before you instruct a solicitor. We would disagree with this. Our advice would be to look at instructing once you have decided the property you want to purchase, contacted the relevant Housing Association to pay your reservation fee and applied for your mortgage.

The reason being is that you are usually only given a very short period of time to exchange (see below). If you find a law firm such as ours you could be entitled to a full refund of any fees paid up until you have received your report on title and as such give yourself the most amount of time to deal with what is required of you.

How long does the process actually take?

Understandably, this is one of our most frequently asked questions. Buying a new property is an exciting experience and everyone is keen to know when they can receive their shiny new house keys. At Alexander JLO we pride ourselves with effectively meeting quick exchange deadlines. This is normally 21/28 days from receipt of contract papers from the seller’s solicitors.

There are a number of factors that may not make this achievable such as your mortgage offer having not been received within this time but with the right team behind you, you will get there at the earliest opportunity. If the property is ready and handover has occurred, completion usually occurs fairly quickly after exchange, provided you are not buying off plan and your property has been built! This time frame is of course dependent on the desires of all parties and also third parties being able to achieve this very tight time frame.

When and how do I pay the deposit for my property?

Your deposit is paid at exchange of contracts. This is usually 5/10% of the sale price, dependant on what the seller has agreed with you. For exchange, you transfer your deposit sum to us and we pay the deposit to the seller’s solicitors. This is separate to the deposit you pay for your mortgage.

I’ve received my Shared Ownership quotation but it says I have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax even though I’m a first time buyer.

Relief will be applied to the first share purchased, where the market value of the Shared Ownership property is £500,000 or less.

First time buyers will pay no SDLT where they are paying £300,000 or less for the first share. Those paying between £300,000 and £500,000 for their first share will pay SDLT at 5% on the amount in excess of £300,000, a reduction of up to £5,000 compared to the amount of SDLT they would have previously paid. The relief will also apply to any SDLT due on the rental payments. The relief will not apply to the purchase of any further shares in the property.

First time buyers purchasing a Shared Ownership property whose market value is more than £500,000 will not be entitled to any relief and will pay SDLT at the normal rates, in line with the treatment for other first time buyers.

This will also be applied retrospectively, backdated to completions on Shared Ownership homes after November 22nd 2017.

Why should I choose Alexander JLO Solicitors for my Conveyancing?

At Alexander JLO our processes are designed with first time buyers in mind and we are always available for any queries, no matter how large or small which means our clients never feel lost or alone. We have a designated client care team and a legal team, both with the expertise to guide you smoothly through the whole process.

We have also been acting for clients in the Shared Ownership sector since the scheme came into being. We are proud to state that through our efforts we have been rewarded by being added to a multitude of developer and housing association solicitors’ panels to act on behalf of purchasers throughout the country.

Please do not hesitate to contact us for more information at or on 0207 531 8828 and ask for Samantha or Rabiya.

Be sure to follow us on twitter @London-law where you can contact us and keep up to date with our news and events.

We hope to you hear from you soon!

– Alexander JLO Solicitors