One-on-one interview: Mike Carter, Paul Crowley & Co

Posted 10 March 2016 by Keith Osborne

The exclusive WhatHouse? interview this week looks at conveyancing with Mike Carter, head of property at award-winning solicitors Paul Crowley & Co...

This week’s housing industry exclusive interview takes a legal tangent as we talk about conveyancing with Mike Carter, head of property at Paul Crowley & Co solicitors.

Please tell us a little about yourself and your company

I’ve been involved in conveyancing for more years than I care to admit to! I’ve been with Paul Crowley & Co for 10 years now, and it has been very pleasing to see the growth of the department and to have won the Your Move Best Property Law Firm award four times in the past five years.

How is business so far in 2016 and how does it compare to the boom and following years?

This year we are celebrating 25 years in the industry, so it’s a very exciting time for our firm. We are now focusing on growing our client base and delivering the best possible service so 2016 has been a very busy year so far with lots of new instructions.

Are there simple steps homebuyers can take to find the right conveyancer?

Potential homebuyers should try and find a conveyancer in their locality, this will make face-to-face meetings much easier and if something needs to be done at short notice then the logistics will help massively. You should make sure your conveyancer is on the panel of your mortgage lender and if you know any family or friends who have recently moved try and get a recommendation from them. Once you have finally decided on a conveyancer you should ask for a written estimate of costs and disbursements.

It's the $64,000 question - how long should people expect their property purchase/sale to take?

There is no easy answer as to how long it takes to complete a property transaction. On average it takes between six and 10 weeks.

Has technology changed the method and speed of dealing with conveyancing?

Over the past few years I have seen great changes in the use of technology within conveyancing. Email correspondence is now common place and a lot of communication with clients is now done via email, which means that issues can be resolved quickly. Also more property searches are now done electronically, which really helps to speed up the whole process.

What are the typical legal costs involved in a house purchase?

The typical legal fee on a purchase of a house is between £420 and £480 plus VAT and disbursements. These disbursements will vary depending upon the purchase price. Fees will also be higher on a flat or apartment as there is considerably more work to be done on this type of property.

Are there any special aspects to the purchase process for a new build home?

When purchasing a new property there are a number of additional considerations to bear in mind. If you are buying off-plan it is always best to try and visit other developments that have been built by your developer so that you can see the likely quality and nature of the build.

You should also obtain room dimensions so you can ensure that any furniture you plan to buy will actually fit into the room. Sometimes builders get modified furniture so it fits into their show houses.

You will also need to find out the anticipated completion date of the build so that you can schedule this into the conveyancing process.

Do gazumping and gazundering happen very often, in your experience?

We don’t see much gazumping or gazundering, as that tends to happen if someone is buying a repossessed property and the mortgage company is under a duty to get the best price.

What can people do to help you make the buying process as smooth as possible?

The key to a smooth conveyancing process is timing! Clients can help by returning all documentation to their solicitor as quickly as possible and working closely with their mortgage advisor to ensure the application is processed efficiently.

Have you seen much increased activity for buy-to-let as the stamp duty changes approach?

We’ve seen increased activity in the buy-to-let market with investors rushing to beat the stamp duty changes which will come in from the 1st April. After 1 April the tax bill on a £100,000 second home purchase would be £3,000!

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