We’ve put together this handy guide that explains the whole conveyancing process for you when you come to buy a home. Conveyancing is the legal transfer of the home ownership from the seller to the new buyer. The process begins when the offer on a home is accepted and it ends when you’re holding the keys in your hand. Through getting to grips with the concept, it will give you a better idea of what is going to or should happen.
Who’s in Charge of the Conveyancing?
Often either a specialist conveyancer or solicitor carries out the conveyancing process, however, if you aren’t taking a mortgage out, you could do this yourself.
The First Part
If you can’t do it yourself, you’ll need to get in touch with a solicitor and instruct them to do this for you. It’s typically best to avoid those real estate agents’ recommended conveyancer as often they work on commission so you could end up paying more – it’s best to shop around as you can find some quite favourable conveyancing quotes online. During your search, you may potentially find that its cheaper to seek out an online e-conveyancing service, however, make sure you do some research to see if the company’s legit and whether it’s the best more for you.
Your appointed conveyancer should then get a contract or terms of engagement together with you, which will outline their charges and the deposit that will be involved. The solicitor should also write to the seller’s solicitor to request contracts, confirmation of their role and details of elements such as the property title.
The Legal Bit
Get your solicitor to examine all exchanged contracts and confirm that everything is in order – any elements that are can rightly be challenged so make sure you double check the forms.
There will be things that real estate agents or even surveys won’t bring up about your property. A conveyancer however, will perform legal searches to ensure there isn’t any factors that you’re not aware of. These searches will be recommended by your chosen conveyancing solicitors or mortgage lenders to protect them from any liabilities that the property could have including:
- Local Authority Reviews = A search that could take up to 6 weeks depending on the local authority but it reviews the plans for the area regarding planning and things like nearby highways.
- Checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry.
- Reviewing flood risks if applicable to your property.
- Water searches = looking at how you get your water and if any public drains on the property may affect future building works or extensions.
- Environmental searches
Signing the Contracts
Now you’re at the part where you’ll need to sign the contracts. After receiving the drafted seller contract, your solicitor should have ensured the following:
- That all enquiries have been exchanged and terms are agreed.
- That all fittings and fixtures included are what you expect.
- A set completion date is agreed between bother parties.
- The arrangements to transfer the deposit into your account so that it is cleared in time for the exchange.
It’s important to visit the property with the agent and the inventory list to guarantee that everything you’ve purchased is still in the house and hasn’t been removed or damaged.
The seller and yourself will agree on a time and date to official exchange contracts, your solicitor will exchange these contracts for you. Typically, this is done over the phone to make sure contracts are identical and there are no discrepancies and once this is down they can be posted to one another. If you’re in a chain purchase, your solicitor will only release it if other people in the chain are all happy and ready to go ahead.
Once you have exchanged contracts you will be in a legally binding contract to buy the property with a fixed date for moving. This means that:
- If you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit and owe the seller more if the deposit was less than 10%
- The seller has to sell or you can sue them
- The seller can no longer accept another offer
What to Do In-between the Exchange and Completion
Now you’ll need the lawyer to lodge an interest in the property – simply put this means that the deeds will be frozen for 30 working days to allow you to fulfil the payment to the seller. The seller will also need to move out during this time. At the end of this period, the lawyer will send you a statement to show the total to pay, which will need to clear in the bank at least one day before completion.
Following completion, ensure that your lawyer does the following:
- You will receive your legal documents about 20 days after completion after your solicitor has sent them to the land registry company
- Send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender, who will hold them until you pay your loan off
- Notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold
- Give you a bill for their payment
Finally, make sure you keep all your paperwork from the purchase of your new home, including the estate agent’s brochure, to file away and keep safe for when you move again.