If you’re planning on buying property in England or in Wales, you need to familiarise yourself with the standard legal process. This process will most likely require you to find a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancers as your legal representative.
Conveyancing covers the legal and administrative processes by which the ownership of a home is transferred safely from one person to another. First-time buyers can often be left confused and overwhelmed by the conveyancing process as it does require a lot of paperwork and processing time. Let’s first discuss what conveyancing is, how it works, and what the entire process entails.
What is Conveyancing?
In its simplest form, conveyancing is the legal transfer of property from one owner to another. The process involves a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer who acts on behalf of the buyer to ensure their client receives the title deeds to the property and the land it sits on. Basically, conveyancing encapsulates the entirety of the legal and administrative work required to ensure a house purchase is valid under the law.
Solicitor vs Licensed Conveyancer
Now, we’ve mentioned solicitors and licensed conveyance agents. There is, however, a slight difference between the two. A licensed conveyancer is trained in conveyancing only. On the other hand, a conveyancing solicitor is fully trained in legal services but specialises in conveyancing. Both functions are subject to two different governing bodies, namely:
The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) regulates all solicitors in the UK. Solicitors are all required to be members of the Law Society.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) regulates or licensed conveyancers. Any conveyancer can work for a solicitor’s firm, but they would then be subject to the regulations of the SRA.
How Conveyancing Works
Before the process of conveyancing starts, you must first find a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer and instruct them to oversee the process. Your estate agent will most likely recommend someone for you, but you need to compare conveyancing quotes to ensure you get a fair price.
Sooner or later, you’ll hear your conveyancer or mortgage lender telling you that it’s time to exchange contracts. Each party’s conveyancers carry out the exchange of signed contracts between the buyer and the seller. This is what legally commits both parties to the sale of the property. You will then undergo the entire conveyancing process until you’re able to close the deal or cancel the transaction.
Standard Conveyancing Practice
Once you’ve hired a conveyancer to help you with your purchase and you already have a seller in mind for the transaction, then the conveyancing process can start. Remember, the process of conveyancing can take anywhere from 8-12 weeks, depending on how proactive all of the parties involved are when responding to each other. Here’s a breakdown of the standard conveyancing practice:
Step #1: Instructing a Conveyancing Solicitor
The first thing you need to do is to “instruct” your solicitor to start the process for you. Your solicitor will then send you several questionnaires for completion. The estate agent will initiate the exchange of the solicitors’ details for both you and the seller. Once the details are shared, the seller’s solicitor will send your conveyancer a couple of documents that contain important information. Those documents include:
Property Information Form
Fittings and Contents Form
The documents contain everything about the property, including details about boundary disputes, planning permission, guarantees, warranties, and environmental matters. The Fittings and Contents form usually comes with a list of items that will be included in the sale of the property, such as curtains, blinds, carpets, and basically any additional items that could come with the house. If the property happens to be a leasehold, a copy of the lease will also be included in the contract pack along with the title deeds, which indicate the type of ownership of the property.
Step #2: Arranging a Property Survey
Although it’s not legally required to have an independent property survey conducted, it is very much encouraged to do so. It may come with some costs, but you will definitely benefit from it.
The survey report can highlight any major faults with the property and may recommend additional investigations. This is crucial as it makes you aware of any potentially costly repairs in the future, allowing you the opportunity to renegotiate the price or back out from the transaction completely. Think of the property survey as a necessary expense, especially if you’re buying a property that’s not exactly in pristine condition. If you think the work needed to restore the property or fix any of its issues is too expensive or time-consuming, then you can always back out of the deal and find a new seller.
Step #3: Conducting Property Searches
At this stage of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will initiate a couple of searches to find out any vital information on the property that could influence your decision of whether to purchase it or not. The location of the property will dictate the type of search that needs to be conducted, which can be any of the following search types:
Chancel Repair Liability
Water and Drainage
Your solicitor will read all the results of the searches and inform you of anything out of the ordinary about the property. They will highlight any issues that could be of concern to you and advise you on the best course of action.
Step #4: Exchanging Contracts
Before the exchange of contracts can proceed, your solicitor will work to identify and resolve any issues from the result of the searches before you are legally bound to complete the purchase. A final completion statement, transfer deed, and mortgage deed will then be agreed upon and signed for by yourself.
At this stage of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will conduct a final check with the Land Register to confirm that no changes have been made to the property since the initial searches. Finally, the signed transfer deed will be sent to the seller’s solicitor, you exchange contracts, and the deposit sent to the seller’s solicitor.
Step #5: Closing the Deal
At this stage, you are legally obliged to purchase the property. Your solicitor will pay the balance to the seller, of which your deposit will already be deducted. You will then receive the signed transfer deed, making the sale final and the property legally under your name.
Buying your first property can be an overwhelming experience without the help of a conveyancing agent to guide you. If you want to make things go a bit smoother, you need to find a conveyancing solicitor you can trust throughout the conveyancing process.
Whenever you need help from a residential conveyancing expert, Conveyancing Calculator is the number one choice. Purchasing a property requires a lot of patience, which is why our conveyancing solicitors and agents are always ready to help. Contact us to request instant online conveyancing quotes today!