THE CONVEYANCING PROCESS
What is Conveyancing?
This is the legal process for transferring home ownership from the seller (or ‘vendor’) to the buyer. This process begins when the offer given by the buyer has been accepted by the seller. The process ends when the buyer receives keys.
What Steps are Involved?
The process is slightly different depending upon whether you are the buyer or the seller. Either way the very first step is to appoint a conveyancing solicitor. They are the legal professionals who know their way around the laws and will ensure that nothing is overlooked. It is also possible to do the conveyancing yourself, however it can be very time consuming and complex and will often not be allowed by your mortgage provider.
Whether buying of selling, it is useful to know what steps are involved so you can keep an eye on the whole process and be prepared.
Conveyancing Process for the Seller of a Property
Once a Conveyancing Solicitor has been chosen by the vendor, the solicitor will confirm the instruction formally via letter or email setting out their terms of business and outlining the fixed fee costs involved.
They will then need to carry out ‘KYC’ or ‘Know-Your-Customer’ checks to ascertain your identity. Usually they will ask for copies of passport and other forms of identity and ideally they like to meet with you face-to-face where possible.
The Solicitor will then provide you with a questionnaire or check-list that you will need to fill out about the sale of the property. This will include questions about:
fixtures and fittings for each room of the house that are to be included or not included in the sale
details about service providers and current costs for such, including council tax, utilities (water, gas, electricity etc), sewerage service….
details about either the leasehold or freehold arrangements held for the property
details about any potential building work or development that may affect the property
details regarding any boundary issues – whether any notices have been received under the Party Wall Act
details of any disputes and complaints relating to the property or a property nearby
details of any notices and proposals that may relate to the property
details of any alterations, planning and building control that may relate (major works or additions completed, installation of replacement windows, roof lights, glazing etc, change of use etc.)
details of guarantees and warranties that relate to the property (NHBC, damp proofing, timber treatments, windows & doors, electrical work, roofing, central heating etc)
details of insurances held
details of any environmental matters – flooding, ground contamination, energy efficiency etc)
details of any rights and informal arrangements held
details of any occupiers and whether they have agreed to vacate on completion
The Solicitor will obtain title deeds from the deed holder or from The Land Registry as well as details of any existing mortgage.
The Solicitor will prepare and thoroughly check the draft contract and supporting documentation to send to the buyer’s Conveyancing Solicitor and raise any concerns the seller may have with the buyer’s side. They will also check that the buyer is in receipt of a mortgage offer, is applicable.
Once all searches have been completed, they will check results and make sure they have acceptable answers to any queries.
The next step is that the buyer and seller agree on completion date and that contracts are formally exchanged – i.e. that both parties are legally committed to the transaction. The Seller’s Conveyancer will obtain a settlement figure.
Once this is completed a transfer deed is drafted by the buyer’s Solicitor and sent to the sellers’. This will be checked and sent back for signature in readiness for completion.
On completion the seller must vacate the property at a time to be agreed and make arrangements to hand over the keys, usually through the estate agent. Buyer’s Solicitor will send the proceeds of sale to the seller’s Solicitor and the seller’s Conveyancer will arrange for the keys to be released to the buyer. The seller’s Solicitor sends the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer’s Conveyancer together with an undertaking to use the proceeds of sale to discharge any existing mortgage. The seller’s Solicitor then pays the estate agent (if one was used), repays the amount owing to the existing mortgage lender (if applicable) and takes payment for their Conveyancing service costs.
Once all the payments have been made all the remaining money from the sale will be transferred to the seller, usually by bank transfer on the day of completion.
Conveyancing Process for the Buyer of a Property
Once the buyer has made an offer on the property and it has been accepted by the seller, the buyer instructs a Conveyancing Solicitor.
It is essential at this stage to arrange for a survey on the property to ensure you are paying a reasonable amount and also to check that there are no outstanding issues (structural or otherwise) that might stop the buyer from proceeding.
An application for a mortgage (if needed) should be made at this point also. The solicitor will need to check over the mortgage details.
The buyer’s Solicitor should confirm instructions in writing, setting out the terms of business and the fixed fee costs. They should also check the contract pack and questions that the seller’s Solicitor will send over and answer all points.
Once happy to proceed and all questions have been answered, the buyer and seller will arrange a completion date when contracts are formally exchanged. Once this is signed, if you do not go ahead through to completion, you will lose your deposit to the seller and may owe more if the deposit was less than 10 percent.
The buyer’s Solicitor will prepare a draft transfer deed and completion information form and send these to the seller’s Solicitor for completion for approval. A Final copy will then be made to be signed by both sides.
The buyer’s Solicitor then prepares the completion statement, carries out any searches and applies to the mortgage lender for the loan.
On completion, once keys have been handed over and the property has been vacated, the seller’s Solicitor will send the title and transfer deeds to the buyer’s Solicitor, together with and undertaking to repay any existing mortgage.
The buyer’s solicitor sends the stamp duty that is due, to the HMRC and receives the title deeds, transfer deed and proof that the seller has paid any outstanding mortgage. They will also register the property in the name of the buyer at The Land Registry. You usually receive your legal documents about 20 days after completion, after the solicitor has sent them to the Land Registry.
Usually the Title Deeds will be held with your mortgage lender until your loan has been repaid.
Whilst it may seem a daunting task to buy and sell, the key really is to have a good Conveyancing Solicitor in place and to do your homework before choosing. Knowing all the steps involved will also keep you ahead of the game in the whole process.
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