Whether you are buying or selling your house, or both, a conveyancer will try to ensure the process is as smooth, efficient and stress-free as possible for you.
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of land and/or property from the seller to the buyer, and a conveyancer will support you throughout this procedure – ensuring every aspect of the property transaction is covered, and handling any concerns you have as well as keeping you informed at every stage.
The Conveyancing Process
For both a sale and purchase, the conveyancing process can be divided into 3 main stages:
- Offer Accepted
- Contracts Exchanged
Selling Your Property
You may have instructed an estate agent, negotiated on the price and have now accepted an offer. At this stage, you will need to instruct a conveyancer to start the conveyancing process to allow the sale to progress quickly and efficiently.
You will be required to complete a number of detailed questionnaires about the property: –
- Property Information form: This will include details about the property boundaries, disputes or complaints (yours or a nearby property), notices or proposals (like new building developments), alterations to the property, any guarantees or warranties, building insurance claims, environmental matters, rights of way and services and utilities;
- A fittings and contents form: List which items are included with the sale;
- If it’s a leasehold property there’ll be an extra form with details including ground rent and management company.
Your conveyancer will then use the questionnaire information to draw up a draft contract which is sent to the buyer for approval. The conveyancer will start the negotiations over the draft contract. Things to agree include:
- The completion date (usually 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts);
- What will be included in the sale price;
- How much the buyer will pay for other fixtures and fittings;
- Who will deal with issues raised by the buyer’s surveyor.
This is usually done over the phone by both conveyancers for the seller and the buyer by making sure the contracts are identical, and then immediately sending them to one another in the post. The buyer sends the agreed deposit. You are committed to selling the property and a completion date is set.
Your conveyancer will receive the outstanding balance of the sale price, hand over the legal documents that prove ownership and pay off any mortgage and other related costs agreed with the proceeds of the sale.
You will hand over the keys to your estate agent for collection by the buyer.
Buying A Property
Your conveyancer will help you make sense of the documents that the seller’s solicitor sends them – these include the draft contract, the property information form and other supporting documentation. If you’re buying a leasehold property, your conveyancer will also check the lease details.
Your conveyancer will carry out legal searches for the property. These searches will be recommended by the conveyancer and others may be required. These can include:
- Local authority searches: Is a motorway going to be built outside the property?
- Land Registry register, title and plan search – these are the legal documents proving the seller’s ownership of the property;
- Water authority searches – this shows how you get your water and if drains run into public or private sewers and what drains run through the property;
- Environmental Search – the report will provide information about contaminated land at or around the property, detailing flooding predictions and other related information;
- Extra searches may be required or recommended depending on the property location or the type of property or concerns raised by the buyer.
If you are obtaining a mortgage to fund the purchase you need to make sure you have a valid mortgage offer.
You sign the prepared transfer deeds and these are sent to the seller’s solicitor together with your signed contract and deposit, usually 10 per cent of the purchase price. The seller’s solicitor sends the seller’s signed contract to your conveyancer.
On the completion date, your conveyancer sends the balance due to the seller’s solicitor and once they have confirmed receipt you can collect the keys at the estate agents so you can move in. Any stamp duty land tax (SDLT-English properties) or Land Transaction Tax (LTT-Welsh properties) is paid to HM Revenue and Customs and the purchase is registered at the Land Registry.