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SECTOR: Personal


Whilst these requirements include residential sales and purchases – in respect of which the firm is acknowledged as a leading service provider – they also include specialist instructions such as:

  • Remortgages
  • Transfers of equity
  • Declarations of Trust
  • Options
  • Easements and Covenants
  • Overage
  • Lease renewals

Samuel Phillips has a well-established reputation for providing a bespoke and high-quality service in personal property matters. The department, led by Jane Fiddes with the assistance of Jessica Vanerp and Steven Carr is recognised for acting in particularly specialist residential matters such as:

  • Purchases of New Build properties
  • Grants of new leases (whether acting for a landlord or a tenant)
  • Transactions involving complex leasehold titles
  • Transactions involving unregistered land

In the area of residential conveyancing, the firm is a member of the Law Societies Conveyancing Quality Scheme and is on the panels of a large number of leading mortgage lenders. It is frequently recommended by both its many regular clients and some of the regions leading estate agents. However the Firms focus is national rather than being limited to the region – it regularly advises upon transactions involving properties located across England and Wales.

Samuel Phillips is also one of the regions foremost specialists in agricultural property and counts among its clients some of the regions biggest landowners. In more recent years, it has acquired a reputation for advising landowners in connection with the grant of options to developers, including nationally-renowned housebuilders. Furthermore, as well as acting for individual buyers, sellers and landowners, the firm is pleased to act for such entities as limited companies, trusts and pension funds in attending to their many and varied property needs. So if you have any property-related matter with which you need some assistance then we would be delighted to hear from you.

Do I need to arrange my own survey on the house I want to buy or can I simply rely on the mortgage valuation?

Your mortgage lender will always arrange their own valuation on the house, to make sure it is structurally adequate for mortgage lending purposes and to make sure that the price you have agreed to pay for the property marries up with the lenders surveyors own valuation. Often, the lender will require you to pay for this valuation. However, this mortgage valuation is very basic & is arranged to ensure that the house is adequate security for the mortgage loan. A buyer should always consider arranging their own survey report (often a homebuyers report will be sufficient for a standard property). This will provide a comprehensive report on the structure of the property, often revealing items of recommended repair that would otherwise be unnoticed by the untrained eye. Serious defects could result in the buyer withdrawing or else negotiating a reduction in price.

My partner & I want to buy a house, but we are not married. We are contributing different amounts to the purchase price. What should we do?

As joint owners, you could decide to hold the house as “joint tenants” (whereby if one joint owner dies, the beneficial interest in the house will vest entirely in the name of the surviving joint owner). Married couples often choose this type of joint ownership. An alternative is to hold the property as “tenants in common” (whereby if one joint owner dies, his or her beneficial interest in the house does not go to the survivor, but rather vests in the deceaseds estate to be distributed in accordance with the terms of any will, or if there is no will under the statutory rules of intestacy).

However, you may also wish to consider the possibility (however remote) that the relationship may break down & the property is sold. In these circumstances, the parties often want the net proceeds of sale to be distributed in order to reflect the different amounts that were contributed when the house was purchased. The terms of how the proceeds would be divided on a sale can be included in a formal agreement known as a Declaration of Trust. Your solicitor can draft this document for you, it can be as simple or as complex as the parties require. It can also include provisions for one party to “buy out” the other partys share in the house.

What is an Energy Performance Certificate?

An Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) is produced by a qualified energy assessor who will need to inspect the property being marketed for sale. An EPC gives a property an energy efficiency rating from A (most efficient) to G (least efficient) and it is valid for 10 years. The EPC will also make recommendations as to the methods of improving the propertys energy efficiency. If you’re selling or renting your home, you must order an EPC for potential buyers and tenants before you market your property.

How much Stamp Duty do I have to pay?

You can check your Stamp Duty fee by using our calculator above. Whether you have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax and how much you have to pay depends on whether you are a first time buyer and whether you own any other properties. Information about the rates of tax (payable on the full purchase price) can be found here :

What is the Conveyancing Quality Scheme?

The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) is the recognised quality mark for legal experts in buying or selling property, trusted by some of the UK’s biggest lenders. All CQS members go through rigorous examination and testing to demonstrate that they have a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice.

Samuel Phillips was one of the first law firms in the North East to achieve accreditation to the Scheme. Increasingly, mortgage lenders will only agree to use law firms who are CQS members. For instance, if your mortgage is with HSBC or Santander, they will insist on using a CQS member.

How long will it take to complete my transaction?

Typically, the average residential sale or purchase transaction should complete within 8 to 10 weeks, but much depends on the number of parties in the chain and their respective positions. A stand-alone purchase of an empty property to a cash buyer could complete in 4 weeks. A more complex transaction, one that involves title problems, or one that forms part of a long chain may take considerably longer.

  • Jane Fiddes
  • Jessica Vanerp
  • Steven Carr

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