When it comes to purchasing a property, the conveyancing process is an essential part of the process.
However, conveyancing is little understood and often complicated. It can be sticking point which pushes your moving date even further back or can lead to the transaction falling through.
We’ll cover the basics as well as explain the different processes that buyers and sellers go through. Also, we’ll answer if you can DIY conveyancing and how to keep the process on track.
What is conveyancing?
Once you’ve agreed to purchase a property there is some paperwork to complete in order to make the transaction legal. This is called the conveyancing process.
This legal transfer of home ownership has several steps which must be completed before the property is your. The process ends with you walking away with the keys to your new property!
Who does the conveyancing?
While it’s possible to do it yourself, usually, a solicitor or conveyancer conducts the conveyancing process.
Hiring the right person/firm
If you decide to hire someone to oversee the process then, start by asking friends for recommendations.
Don’t automatically choose the firm recommended by the estate agent. They usually get a referral fee from the conveyancer firm and could cost more.
If you can’t find a good local firm then, consider using an online conveyancing service. These can be cheaper. However, you may end up dealing with a call centre rather than a single point of contact.
Conveyancing Process – Selling
After looking at a few firms and settling on a Conveyancer, they’ll draw up a contract. This short document outlines the terms of business and the fixed fee you’ll pay for the service.
Proof of identity
On returning the contract with the fee, your conveyancer legally needs to check your proof of identity.
Once completed, they will send out a fittings and contents form, and property information form(s) for completion. If you’re buying a leasehold property then you’ll need to supply additional information.
As the seller, you need to complete fittings and contents form, and property information form(s).
While you’re completing the paperwork, the conveyancer will obtain title deeds. They will gather these from the deeds holder or official copies of the title register.
Also, they will collect any other documents required by The Land Registry including details of any existing mortgage.
Once your Conveyancer has all the necessary documents, they’ll prepare a draft contract along with supporting documentation. This legal pack will be sent to the buyer’s Conveyancer for their approval.
The buyer’s Conveyancer checks the documents and may raise some pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s Conveyancer.
The buyer’s Conveyancer confirms that they’re happy with the results from their searches. They should be happy with the answers to pre-contract enquiries. You should also be in receipt of a mortgage offer.
Completion date agreed
With all of the legal paperwork completed, the seller and buyer can agree on a completion date. Contracts are formally “exchanged”, meaning both parties are legally committed to the transaction.
If applicable, the seller’s Conveyancer will obtain a mortgage settlement figure.
The buyer’s Conveyancer will then draft a transfer deed, which is then sent to the Seller’s Conveyancer. After checking, the seller receives a copy for signature.
On completion, the seller vacates the property at the agreed time and hands over the keys. Usually, their estate agent holds on to the keys.
The Buyer’s Conveyancer will send the proceeds of sale to the seller’s Conveyancer and arrange for the buyer to collect the keys.
The seller’s Conveyancer sends the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer’s Conveyancer. In this pack is also an undertaking to use the proceeds of sale to discharge any existing mortgage.
The seller’s Conveyancer then pays the estate agent and repays the existing mortgage lender. They’ll also take payment for their conveyancing service costs.
Once all the payments have been made, any remaining money from the sale will be transferred to the seller. This usually happens via bank transfer on the day of completion.
Conveyancing Process – Buying
The buyer makes an offer on the property. On acceptance of the offer, the buyer should instruct a Conveyancer or Solicitor. They’ll produce a contract, which outlines the terms of business and the cost of the service.
If not already in place, this is the time to apply for a mortgage.
While not always necessary, you’ll want to arrange a property survey as this will give you peace of mind.
Seller’s legal pack
At this point in the process, the buyer’s Conveyancer contacts the seller’s Conveyancer to obtain the contract pack.
Having looked over this pack, the buyer’s Conveyancer raises any pre-contract enquiries, which the seller will answer. He’ll also carry out the necessary searches and obtains a copy of the mortgage offer.
With all of this information together, the buyer’s Conveyancer reports back to the buyer. After considering this report, the buyer can raise any questions they might have.
Completion date agreed
When the buyer is happy to proceed, the buyer’s Conveyancer arranges for the deposit to be paid.
Both the seller and buyer agree on a completion date. The contracts are formally “exchanged”. This means both parties are legally committed to the transaction.
Draft transfer deed
The buyer’s Conveyancer prepares a draft transfer deed and a completion information form. The seller’s Conveyancer then checks and completes these forms.
When both parties approve, a final copy is made. The buyer may need to sign this before the seller can complete the paper with their signature.
Before you can complete your purchase, your Conveyancer will prepare a statement and carry out pre-completion searches.
They will also formally apply for your mortgage loan.
On the day of completion, the buyer’s Conveyancer sends the proceeds of sale to the seller’s Conveyancer.
The Seller’s Conveyancer releases the keys to the estate agent. Also, they send the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer’s Conveyancer together with an undertaking to repay any existing mortgage.
The final step is for the Buyer’s Conveyancer to pay HMRC the stamp duty. After doing so, they will receive the title deeds, transfer deed and proof that the seller has repaid the mortgage.
The buyer’s Conveyancer records the sale in the name of the buyer at The Land Registry, who then sends the buyer a copy. This usually takes about 20 days to come through.
Any documents the mortgage lender requires will be retained and sent by the Buyer’s solicitor.
You should have a much better understanding of the conveyancing process regardless of whether you’re both selling or buying. As you can see it’s complex and even the slightest delay at one step can push the timeline back by days, if not a week.
While you can complete the process yourself, it makes sense to hire a professional, who deals with this on a day to day basis. They will be quicker, cheaper and be used to solving any problems that may arise.
Don’t be afraid to ask lots of questions along the way. Even if you feel like they’re stupid! The questions you don’t ask are the stupid ones!
Thoughout the process, you’ll still have to push it forward. So you’ll need to maintain regular contact with your conveyancer and estate agent to ensure the transaction completes.