As we allude to in our ‘how long does conveyancing take’ section, the process of getting you, the client, from instructing your property solicitor at the outset right through to completion is a complex process with many various facets involved.
A conveyancing solicitors aim is to process all legal aspects of buying or selling a property, transferring ownership from one person to the other.
The acquiring of a property is likely to be the largest purchase or sale in life for most people so it is crucial to make sure a trusted and experienced set of eyes is reviewing the legal process for you.
In a very small nutshell, this will include:
- Draft or review the contract, raise or satisfy enquiries
- Provide legal advice throughout
- Apply for and compile searches
- Ensure land registry documents are dealt with
- Conduct discussions with mortgage lenders, managing agents and estate agents
- Transferring funds
The vast majority of conveyancing solicitors on our panel will have an online tracking portal, ensuring you can stay up to date with the process when it suits you. You are not reliant on communication in traditional working hours which may not be ideal for our clients.
Legal Property Contract Handling
Once instructed, your conveyancer will require information from you to retain on file, such as ID and other details such as the mortgage advisor or estate agent involved, they will also provide their terms of business.
Your property solicitor will then produce (if selling) or review (if buying) the draft contract and title deeds and ask or answer enquiries that arise from this contract.
One of the first tasks for your conveyancer will be to apply for searches from the local authority. These are legally required by a mortgage lender and will highlight amongst many things, any potential risks to the value of the property such as; flooding potential, a major new road close by, tree preservation orders, whether you are in a conservation area, any compulsory purchase orders, public rights of way or any enforcement notices concerning planning consent breaches.
This will likely again raise further enquiries you and the property solicitor will want answered so best to pay and ensure these are quickly applied for.
Simultaneously there is likely to be a land charge and registry search, this will involve acquiring the land registry certificate and title deed. This requires a significant amount of scrutiny which is why we urge you to instruct one of our approved and experienced panel members.
Various forms will be completed and sent within this early portion of the process too. These will include, property information form, fixtures/fittings and contents form and if application a leasehold information form.
Your conveyancer will begin to check through all of the documents obtained thus far and continue to ask any necessary questions. Feel free to raise anything you would like answered also, no matter how small the query could be, this is a big purchase so never be shy when it comes to this. The sooner your questions are answered, the less likely there will be delays as you approach the exchange of contracts.
We are now approaching the point where your conveyancer will be preparing documents and approving the contract to send to you for signing. Please note, if buying with a mortgage, you will want to have a mortgage offered to you by the lender whether you have gone directly or via a broker as this will be required and could cause a delay.
Once you are completely happy and have your contract, you will be requested by your property solicitor, if buying, to transfer your deposit money, generally 10% but this can be 5% or rising to 50% plus. If your purchase has stamp duty tax applicable, you may be asked to pay this to or at least show you have the money in your account to pay for this on completion.
Be aware, the vast majority of solicitors will want a week between exchange and completion so have this in mind when arranging removals and taking days off work. This is generally to ensure they receive the mortgage funds and complete other procedures.
Whether buying or selling, if you are doing so through an estate agent, they have a crucial role to play here too, particularly if you are part of a chain (more than one property involved) as you will need to align all parties to exchange and complete on the same days.
Once all parties are happy with all parts of this process, signed their contract and agreed the date, you will be at the point of exchange (legally bound to move), your conveyancer will then do what is known as exchange contracts (a phone call between solicitors). Once the process (generally initiated by the top of the chain) has taken place, you will not be able, unless in an exception circumstance and with an agreement, be able to alter that completion date and you may not be able to get your deposit returned should you not complete the deal. If selling, breach of contract can entail other financial consequences.
This will then bring us to completion, a major part of the process for you and the conveyancer. You will be sent a completion statement by the solicitor and they will ensure you have paid what you need to or alternatively receive what you are due and liaise with the mortgage lender and pay any stamp duty land tax that could be due.
They will then be registering you as the owner and changing ownership of the property.
Once your solicitor has confirmed to you and the selling estate agent completion has taken place, you will be able to obtain or hand over the keys.