What exactly is conveyancing? It refers to the legal procedure of purchasing a residence. We explain all you need to know about buying conveyancing procedures, including the conveyancing processes and timetable.
What is conveyancing?
The formal transfer of house ownership from the seller to you, the buyer, is known as conveyancing. When your offer on a property is approved, the conveyancing procedure begins and ends when you receive the keys.
Who does the conveyancing?
Most sellers will instruct a solicitor to handle the legal conveyancing process. Solicitors are qualified lawyers or trained legal practice staff that a member of the Law Society can recognise.
The buyer is also advised to use a conveyancing solicitor because they will advise you on the best way to proceed. Many banks and building societies now offer their conveyancing services.
How long does conveyancing last?
In England and Wales, you should allow ten weeks to complete the conveyancing. However, this can depend on how quickly the seller's solicitors can complete their part of the process and how quickly you take to provide them with the relevant information and documents. Both parties are legally bound to complete the process within this timeframe.
If the process runs over, you could be liable for a fine that the conveyancer could pass on to you. This fine is currently £100 a day, up to a maximum of £500.
The Conveyancing Process
When you have found a property you want to buy, you will usually have to pay a deposit of around £1,000 to the seller.
Your solicitor will ask the seller's solicitors to confirm that you are a successful buyer. At this point, the legal conveyancing process will begin.
1. Exchange of contracts
Once the seller has accepted your offer, the legal transfer of ownership of the property is known as the exchange of contracts. If you are using a licensed conveyancer and are dealing with a solicitor, this will be at this stage. However, you will have to sign with the seller's solicitor and pay a further deposit of around £5,000 or 10% of the sale price.
If you are using an unlicensed conveyancer, an exchange of contracts will occur before you sign your contract.
2. Mortgage negotiations
Your solicitor will begin negotiations with your mortgage broker, or you may have a separate mortgage advisor. They will confirm how much money you need to borrow and which lender they intend to approach.
3. Mortgage approval
Once the mortgage broker has confirmed the amount of money you need to borrow, they will contact your chosen lender to confirm the loan amount and details. Once the lender has approved the mortgage, the mortgage broker will approve the approval of your solicitor.
4. Promissory note
If you have arranged your mortgage with a mortgage broker, the promissory note will be created at the same time as you sign your contract. This document includes your name and details, the lender's name and details, the amount of the loan and any mortgage fees. It details how much you will be paying each month and the date when you will start and finish paying the loan.
5. Legal searches
Your mortgage broker will ask the land registry to search to ensure that there are no outstanding mortgages or other legal issues that could affect the property.
6. Final exchange of contracts and conveyancing process
The final exchange of contracts will occur when you are ready to buy the property. The final exchange of contracts is the point at which the legal ownership of the property is transferred from the previous owner to you.
7. Completion of the sale
The completion of the sale is the final part of the conveyancing process and takes place when you have paid the total amount of the property and all of your fees, and you have received the keys.
8. Stamp duty
Stamp duty is a state tax you pay when buying a property for more than £125,000 in England, Scotland and Wales.
In addition, if you pay more than £500,000 for your home, you will also have to pay an additional 3% on the amount over the threshold. You don't pay stamp duty on any part of the property that is rented out. Stamp duty will be added to your mortgage payment for the first year, or you can pay it in a lump sum.
Expect to pay between £1,500 and £15,000 in stamp duty, depending on how much you pay for the property.
9. Property purchase tax
You may have to pay property purchase tax if you are a non-resident foreign national.
If you own more than one property, you may have to pay an additional 3% on each property in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland.
10. Refund of estate agents' fees
If you have to pay estate agents' fees, you may be able to claim a refund. However, it is best to use an agent with a refund guarantee.
What is the difference between a solicitor and a conveyancer?
A solicitor is a lawyer who advises you on legal issues. A solicitor can prepare and send documents to the court and liaise with the other party's solicitor.
A conveyancer is a conveyancing professional who deals with the legal side of the property transaction for you. A conveyancer will carry out all the legal work involved in the conveyancing process on your behalf. What if you have a mortgage?
Most sellers will not include the outstanding mortgage in the property price, so you will have to deal with both the mortgage company and the solicitor.
The solicitor will liaise with the mortgage company and determine how much you will pay each month.
What if you don't have a solicitor or conveyancer?
You can do your conveyancing. You will have to contact the seller's solicitor and a surveyor to arrange for surveys or searches to be carried out. You should also check that the property is correctly insured at your expense. If you are filling in the forms on your behalf, you should make sure that a solicitor checks them for accuracy.
When buying a property, it is best to use a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to avoid falling foul of the conveyancing process.
It is good to use the same conveyancer throughout the process to ensure that all the information passes between the parties correctly and the process runs smoothly with no delays.