Conveyancing is an integral part of the house buying and selling process, but very few of us really understand exactly what is involved and what the fees we are paying out are related to.
Although you will almost certainly use a licenced conveyancer or solicitor to help you buy or sell your house, it make sense to get a better understanding of property conveyancing, and it may also assist you in dealing with any queries or questions that you have to answer.
Three steps to completion
In basic terms, there are three specific steps that the conveyancing process will follow in a standard property transaction.
Buying selling a property can often be a complex matter with the prospect of legal and administrative challenges to overcome along the way. The first stage of the conveyancing process will be all the enquiry and administration work involved before you can get to the point where you are ready to exchange contracts.
The second stage is the actual exchange of contracts, where the contract is signed and you need to hand over a deposit of you are the buyer. It is at this point that final accounts are prepared and the mortgage deed is requested for you to sign.
The final stage is completion and the point where the buyer receives the key to their new home and the title deeds are assigned, as well as stamp duty being paid over to the Land Registry and the transfer of ownership register is updated.
Selling your home
There are numerous components and tasks attached to each stage of the conveyancing procedure and in a typical sale, the following list is the general order of what takes place in order to be ready for exchange and completion.
You instruct a conveyancer to sell your property on your behalf and they will confirm receipt of these instructions and set out their terms of business and costs.
The conveyancer will then carry out proof of identity checks and send you a fittings and contents form and property information form for you to complete. If the property is leasehold, it is likely that extra information will be required.
You will need to complete the fittings and contents form and property information form.
The conveyancer will obtain title deeds from deeds holder or official copies of the title register and any other documents required from the land registry together with details of the amount outstanding on any existing mortgage that will have to be redeemed before sending any remaining proceeds.
Your conveyancer will also start preparing the draft contract and supporting contract documentation and send this out to the buyer’s Conveyancer.
The buyer’s conveyancer will subsequently check the contract and supporting contract documentation and raise any pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer, such as questions about shared boundaries or drains etc.
Your conveyancer will ask for your assistance and information so that they can satisfactorily answer all the pre-contract enquiries.
The buyer’s conveyancer will confirm when they have all the required and acceptable results from their searches, are satisfied with the answers given to them in relation to the pre-contract enquiries. They will also normally confirm that they are in receipt of a mortgage offer it is not a cash purchase, which is confirmation that the buyer is in a position to complete the purchase.
At this point the buyer and seller agree on a completion date and contracts are formally exchanged. This is the point where both parties are legally committed to the transaction.
The seller’s conveyancer will obtain an accurate settlement figure to repay the outstanding amount on any existing mortgage, where relevant and the buyer’s conveyancer will draft a transfer deed which is sent seller’s conveyancer.
The transfer deed is checked and sent out to the seller for a signature in readiness for completion.
Once completion has been confirmed, the seller is legally obliged to vacate the property at a time to be agreed and make the necessary arrangements to hand over the keys.
After completion, the seller’s conveyancer sends the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer’s conveyancer along with an undertaking to use the proceeds of sale to discharge any existing mortgage.
After paying the conveyancer, any estate agent fees and the existing mortgage lender, the remaining money from the sale will be transferred to the seller, usually by bank transfer on the day of completion or very shortly afterwards.
This is the conveyancing process and all the respective enquiries that need to be completed before a sale can be finalised. Knowing what to expect when you instruct a conveyancer or solicitor can definitely help take an element of stress and uncertainty out of what can often seem a complicated and seemingly drawn out affair at times.
Jamie Wells is a personal finance consultant. He enjoys sharing his ideas and insights online through blogging.