In short, conveyancing is the process of transferring home ownership from seller to buyer. It is essential that you hire a professional to carry out the conveyancing on your property purchase or sale. The process of buying and selling property up to completion can be both baffling and stressful, so here we explain in brief the conveyancing process in an attempt to make that journey just that little bit less confusing!
If you are selling, your conveyancer will prepare the contract to transfer the ownership of the property to the buyer.
If you are buying, your conveyancer will thoroughly check all details of the contract and will deal with any issues on your behalf.
Typically, the conveyancing process takes somewhere between 6 – 12 weeks but it can be shorter or longer, depending on a number of factors such as any queries raised by either side and the complexity of those issues. In addition, a leasehold property is a more complex process and will most likely take a little longer.
As a seller you will need to fill out a number of standard forms with information about the property. Your solicitor will use these to create the draft contract for your buyer. Throughout the whole process do try and answer any queries your conveyancer asks and fill out any forms with speed as you don’t want to be the one holding the process up. It’s vital that you provide all information to the best of your knowledge. If you’re found to have deliberately left out information or lied on the questionnaires, you could risk losing the sale, or even be sued for compensation.
If you are buying, your conveyancer will thoroughly check the contract from the seller’s conveyancer in detail. This is the time when your conveyancer can discuss with you any issues that you will need to be aware of and to make sure everything is in order.
Nothing is legally binding until exchange of contracts takes place.
The buyers solicitor will then issue a number of searches. These will be conducted to check a number of factors including the title of the property to ensure that the seller is indeed the legal owner of the property. Other searches will also be conducted such as checks on any planned works within the area that may affect the property and boundaries and also if there are any legal or planning restrictions which may affect your decision to purchase.
If the property is leasehold, it is important to check how long is left on the lease. If there are less than 80 years remaining, the property could quickly go down in value and any future buyers would have difficulty in obtaining finance. If you are the buyer and find that this is the case you can either ask the seller to extend the lease before they sell it to you, or try to negotiate the price accordingly.
It’s best to ask the seller to extend it themselves as you won’t have the automatic right to do so until you’ve owned the property for two years. If you are the seller it is best to sort this issue quickly and seriously consider extending the lease before you market the property.
A mortgage valuation survey will need to be conducted on behalf of the lender. The mortgage valuation survey is conducted in the lender’s interest rather than the buyers, and won’t include structural checks.
A more detailed survey such as a homebuyers survey (see our guide) can be carried out at this stage if the buyer decides to. We recommend that all buyers commission a RICS surveyor. A comprehensive survey will identify any problems with the property. However it is quite common for buyers to ask a competent builder to assess the property instead of a surveyor, but this is at the buyers discretion.
Depending on the results of the searches and surveys, the buyers conveyancer may raise a number of enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer. Typically these enquiries tend to include questions about rights of way, which home contents will be included in the sale, and any planning constraints that the seller is aware of.
If you’re buying or selling a leasehold property, there will be additional enquiries relating to the terms of the lease. These will include factors such as the upkeep of common areas, restrictions about what you can do to the property and whether there’s a managing agent.
Whether buying or selling, responding to enquiries as soon as you can will help to keep things moving, meaning that you reach that all-important exchange of contracts as quickly as possible.
Once everybody confirms they are satisfied and happy to proceed, the conveyancers will send the final contract and any other documents to be signed. At this point exchange of contracts takes place and a completion date is set.
The buyers conveyancer will then arrange to collect the deposit funds from you for the property you’re buying, and provide you with a transfer deed to sign for your current property.
Once funds have been transferred and received by the seller’s solicitor, legal completion will take place and you can collect your keys!