The average Brit moves house every 23 years. When performing a transaction so infrequently it’s little wonder that people struggle to understand the process.
The conveyancing process takes care of all the legalities associated with buying and selling property, including preparing contracts, completing and analysing local authority searches and dealing with payment for the property and stamp duty land tax.
Key stages in the conveyancing process are the exchange and completion of contracts.
At this point people are nearing the end of the sale and purchase process and are looking forward to moving out of their old home or into their new one, so any hiccups at this stage can cause real frustration.
Exchange of contracts takes place when the buyer’s solicitor holds a contract signed by the buyers and the seller’s solicitor holds a contract signed by the seller and a moving date (completion date) has been agreed.
At this point if both buyer and seller are happy to proceed their appointed solicitors will swap the contracts they hold with each other and the buyer pays their deposit, which amounts to 10% of the purchase price.
Frequently there are a number of buyers and sellers associated with the sale and purchase you are in involved in; this is called a chain. Everyone in the chain must be ready to proceed for contracts to be exchanged as the agreement to buy or sell is only legally binding once everyone in the chain has exchanged contracts.
If you pull out of your sale and/or purchase after contracts have been exchanged you would incur penalties and can lose the 10% deposit you have paid.
The completion date is when your physical move takes place and purchase monies change hands so the ownership of the property is legally transferred from seller to buyer.
If you have a chain then each appointed solicitor in that chain must electronically transfer their purchase monies to the solicitor they are purchasing from. If you are selling and buying then your solicitor cannot transfer your purchase monies until they receive the monies from your sale.
Depending on where you are in the chain the transfer of monies from solicitor to solicitor can sometimes cause a delay in you collecting your keys.
Expectations over timescales and confusion about the legal processes can be causes of stress for people who are buying and selling property so good communication and reassurance from your appointed solicitor is essential.
Choosing a good solicitor who has the required expertise to look after your side of the transaction and who is accessible and explains things clearly to you every step of the way is absolutely essential.