Conveyancing is a term for the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from one party to another. The first time you buy a property the conveyancing process can seem involved and complex. Even if you’ve bought or sold properties in the past it may have been some time ago and you may need reminding of some of the details.
To help clarify the various stages of the buying process, here’s our step-by-step guide. Although the process can seem a bit drawn out at a time when you just want to get on with moving, it’s worth remembering that it’s there to protect the interests of both buyer and seller. Short cuts in the conveyancing process can have significant and long-lasting effects.
Instructing a Solicitor
After the seller has formally accepted your offer you need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf. Before going ahead, you should receive a breakdown of the likely costs and fees that will be incurred. Your solicitor will need to be satisfied that you have the necessary funds in place to complete the purchase including all fees and any Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) due. If you plan to use money from relatives the solicitor will need to check on this.
The solicitor will arrange for searches to be carried out with various agencies to reveal information about the property. The aim is to identify any potential issues that could affect your use or the value of your home.
Local authority searches will cover planning issues including applications approved or rejected for the property, any restrictions to permitted developments, as well as any proposed major developments or road schemes nearby. It will also identify any issues with potentially contaminated land.
Other searches will investigate possible issues with flooding, drainage, sewers, subsidence or services such as energy, telecoms and water.
Your solicitor will request a draft contract from the seller’s solicitor. This should include details of everything that is included or specifically excluded from the sale. If anything is unclear or if potential issues are raised by the searches your conveyancer will make enquiries on your behalf.
Although not necessarily part of the conveyancing process it is common to have a survey carried out on the property you are buying. Your mortgage lender, if you are buying with a mortgage, will probably insist on a valuation survey and you might decide to have a more detailed inspection to identify any potential defects. Your survey may identify further questions for your solicitor to take up with the seller’s solicitor before you exchange contracts.
Exchange of Contracts
Once all of the queries are resolved and your lender has confirmed they are happy to advance the funds contracts will be exchanged between you and the seller. At this point you are legally committed to completing the purchase by a date specified in the contract.
You will pay a deposit (usually 10% of the asking price), which you will forfeit if you decide not to complete.
On completion day, your solicitor receives the funds from your mortgage lender (or from your buyer’s solicitor if you are buying and selling) and transfers all outstanding money to the seller’s solicitor. After confirmation, the property is yours and you can collect the keys and move in.
After the Sale
Your solicitor will pay any SDLT due on your behalf within 30 days of completion and then register the transfer of the property and any mortgage with the Land Registry.
Throughout the process, attention to detail is essential, which is why choosing an experienced and professional conveyancer is so important. PowellsLaw is accredited under The Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. If you have any questions about buying your home, we will be happy to help – you can contact us here.