Moving house is a major life event which requires a great deal of planning, negotiation and decision-making. It is one of the few occasions when people need legal advice to ensure the conveyancing process is carried out properly.
However, most people, even those involved in the moving business, such as mortgage advisers and estate agents, have only a rudimentary knowledge of what conveyancing is.
To help shed light on the conveyancing process and why you need a reliable legal professional to help you, we’ve put together a quick guide to conveyancing.
Quick guide to conveyancing
Conveyancing is the legal transfer of home ownership from seller to buyer. It begins when your offer on a property is accepted and finishes when you receive the keys.
Conveyancing consists of a number of important steps. Here’s how it works when you are buying a property:
- ID checks and proving source of funds – The first checks are proof of identity and checking where the funds are coming from to buy your property. This is important with transactions involving large amounts of money. Conveyancers need to check the buyer’s identity and funds to satisfy regulatory and anti-money laundering requirements.
- Contract – Next the conveyancer will liaise with the seller’s solicitor, we tend to do this by email requesting a copy of the draft contract and other important documents including the legal title and a plan of the property. Once received, these documents will be carefully reviewed to ensure everything is in order with the purchase. The contract is the legal agreement between buyer and seller. It sets out the price of the property, the obligations and responsibilities of both buyer and seller and the completion date. Your conveyancer will send you a copy of the plan to the property for you to check.
- Searches – Once the draft contract is reviewed and you have confirmed the plan of the property is correct, the buyer’s conveyancer will order the required searches, examine all information received and go back to the seller’s solicitor with any questions that the searches, contract and legal title and plan may have given rise to. It is very important that the chosen conveyancer requests a comprehensive suite of searches. Do make sure this is the case, as cutting corners when it comes to purchasing property is not advisable because if you come to sell or re-mortgage there may be information you did not know about that could cause problems later.
- Mortgage deed – If the buyer needs a mortgage to purchase the property, they need to provide all necessary information to the mortgage lender so a mortgage offer is issued. Once approved, the lender will send a copy of the mortgage offer to the conveyancer who will go through all of the lender’s conditions to make sure they are complied with because usually the conveyancer will act for you in the purchase and your mortgage lender too. The lender will arrange a mortgage valuation to make sure the property is worth the sum being borrowed, but the buyer might also wish to commission a survey to check the condition of the property they are purchasing.
- Signing the contract papers – Once all questions have been answered, searches completed and mortgage offer received, the buyer will be invited to sign the contract papers. At this point the conveyancer should also provide a comprehensive report outlining all the important points that the buyer needs to be aware of.
- Exchange of contracts – A completion date will then be agreed. This is the date that the move will take place. The conveyancer will seek the buyer’s authority to exchange contracts – a process that legally commits them to the purchase. When contracts are exchanged, which is a telephone conversation between the buyer and seller’s solicitor, the buyer must pay a 10% deposit, which amounts to 10% of the purchase price, to the seller’s solicitor. At this stage buyers must ensure they have buildings insurance in place for their new home and provide the conveyancer with confirmation of this because the seller is not responsible for insuring the property from the point contracts are exchanged.
- Mortgage draw down – The conveyancer will request a mortgage advance from the lender to make sure the funds are available in time for the purchase to be completed. The lender will send the mortgage advance to your conveyancer’s client account. The conveyancer will ask you to pay any additional funds due from you to complete your purchase at this time.
- Completion – On the completion date the conveyancer sends the purchase monies to the seller’s solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will authorise the estate agent to release the keys to the buyer.
- Land registration – The final task that the conveyancer will perform is the submission of an application to Land Registry to transfer the property into the buyer’s name. The conveyancer will answer any questions that the Land Registry might have and forward the updated title to the buyer once it has been received.
Of course, complications can occur during the conveyancing process, and it is at these moments that having an experienced conveyancer on your side can make all the difference.
For example, search results can uncover issues like contaminated soil, flood risk or other complications that might require further consideration or investigation. Waiting for a mortgage offer can also be frustrating for eager purchasers. A good conveyancer can advise you on any hurdles that you might encounter and keep the whole transaction moving along smoothly.
Finally, many buyers find it difficult to juggle the administration of moving with work and family life, for example, dealing with paperwork, emails and phone calls. Again, skilled conveyancers will foresee problems and risks, think ahead and steer you around unnecessary delays. Modern firms use mobile apps to make it easier for you to review and sign documents at your convenience.
The combination of a personalised conveyancing service supported by modern technology is the key to a stress-free, smooth move.
If you have any questions about our quick guide to conveyancing or would like a conveyancing quote, please call our Stoke-on-Trent solicitors on 01782 205000, our Altrincham solicitors on 0161 929 8494 or use out instant quote tool.