Indepth Guide To The Conveyancing Process

Buying a property involves a whole host of information and procedures you might not have been aware of before the process began. One of the main processes you should be aware of is the conveyancing process: the legal process of transferring ownership of property from one person to another. Conveyancing Store has a great deal of knowledge, experience and know-how in this area so we have put together a list of invaluable information.

We have broken it down into 5 simple steps to keep you informed of what happens during each stage:

1 – Instruct A Solicitor

Once you have found a house you wish to buy and your offer has been accepted on it, you should ‘instruct’ a conveyancing solicitor. This means informing the person or company who will carry out all the legal aspects of house purchase that you require them to carry out the legal work on your behalf. Once instructed, your solicitor will write to your seller’s solicitor to confirm they have been instructed and request a copy of the draft contract and any other details, such as the property’s title and the standard forms.

The seller’s conveyancer will then send your conveyancer the ‘contract pack’, containing:

  • The Property Information Form
  • The Fittings and Contents Form

These provide information about the property and the items that will be included in the sale (such as carpets/white goods). The contract pack also includes the property title and forms that have been completed by the seller. Look through these forms carefully and approach your solicitor with any concerns at this stage.

Now is a good time to think about arranging a property survey.

2 – Searches

The conveyancer will then carry out ‘searches’ which include local authority searches, water authority searches and other essential matters to ensure a smooth and legally-binding process.

Some searches will be standard and always recommended by your solicitor and others will be required by the mortgage lender.

These can include:

  • Local authority searches: Is your house built on an old landfill site or is there planning permission to turn your road into a motorway? These could all impact your ability to get a mortgage on a property or your desire to live there.
  • Environmental Search – this report is carried out on the vast majority of transactions and provided by either Landmark or Groundsure. The report will provide information about contaminated land at or around the property, landfill sites, former and current industry, detailed flooding predictions, radon gas hazard, ground stability issues, and other related information.
  • Checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’. This will be done at the Land Registry. Both of these are legal documents proving the seller’s ownership and checks are legally required in order to sell.
  • Checking flood risk – this can also be done at the Land Registry. Some environmental searches include this.
  • Water authority searches – this informs you how you get your water and if any public drains on the property might affect future extensions or building works on your house.
  • Chancel repair search – believe it or not these searches ensure there are no potential leftover medieval liabilities on the property to contribute towards your local church repairs. You can take out Chancel repair insurance instead for £20 or so if you think there is a possibility of this happening.
  • Location specific searches – occasionally, extra searches are needed or recommended depending on the location or type of property or due to particular concerns raised by the buyer.
  • These might include:

    • Tin Mining searches in Cornwall
    • Mining searches in various parts of the UK
    • Additional Local Authority Questions such as Public Pathways, Pipelines, Noise Abatement Zones, Common Land, etc

    These searches can cost extra.

3 – Draft Contracts

When both buyer and seller have carried out satisfactory searches they will produce a draft contract. It is during this time that a completion date will be set. This is usually one to four weeks after exchange of contracts but can vary widely. An energy performance certificate should be included too.

The paperwork can seem overwhelming but it’s important to look through it carefully and negotiate any terms if necessary. Your solicitor or conveyancer will help you.

4 – Exchange of contracts

Your solicitor will exchange contracts for you on the date and time decided. Exchange is usually done by both solicitors over the phone (recorded), making sure the contracts are identical, They will then immediately send them to each other in the post.

Once contracts are exchanged you will be in a legally binding contract. You must buy the property and fix a date for moving. If you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit and have to pay the seller more if the deposit was less than 10%. Furthermore, the seller has to sell (or you can sue them) should the sale fall through.

5 – Completion

This is the last stage of the process. This is when the seller’s solicitor confirms that all the money for the property has been paid, and the keys to the property are handed over. There are a few loose ends to tie up after this:

  • Pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf
  • Send you your legal documents. These will arrive about 20 days after completion after your solicitor has sent them to the Land Registry
  • Send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender. They will hold them until you pay your loan off
  • Notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold.
  • Send you a bill for their payment

Congratulations, the property is now yours!

Using will give prospective buyers peace of mind when choosing a conveyancer. All the conveyancers listed are experienced, trusted and highly-ranked by their customers. It is easy to compare quotes and services from the comfort of your own laptop, to be sure that the price you agree is the only price that you will pay, for maximum reassurance.

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