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Conveyancing is the transfer of the legal title of land or property from one person to another. Normally, there are two stages to this process.
The first is the exchange of contracts, at which point the terms of the deal are fixed, and the second is the completion, where the legal title is transferred.
About the Conveyancing Process
Once an offer has been accepted, the seller’s solicitor will draft a contract which will outline the conditions of sale, the terms of the deal (including price) and any other particulars which will need to be kept in mind.
Meanwhile, the seller will complete the Fittings and Contents form, Property Information form and, if applicable, a Leasehold Information form. The seller’s solicitor will check and provide details of the seller’s legal title to the property.
Additional Enquiries from the Buyer’s Solicitor
Once the buyer’s solicitor has checked all the initial paperwork and contract, it will be up to them to carry out preliminary checks regarding the property and its current owner, before asking questions of the seller’s solicitor on issues arising out of the draft papers. Issues regarding the local area, rights of way and boundary disputes will also be included in these enquiries.
Survey and Searches
A survey is designed to check the state of a building, the condition of the surrounding land and to assess any external factors such as drainage systems and whether there are any other local developments in planning.
The buyer’s solicitor will also make various searches, including checking any outstanding issues with the local authority, and will also undertake additional searches about flood risk, contaminated land and other environmental issues, where appropriate.
Approval of Draft Contract
Both solicitors will be required to negotiate the terms of the draft contract. Once this has been finalised and each party is content, the contract will be made official and each party will sign a copy in readiness for exchange.
If a mortgage is required, then you will need a formal mortgage offer. The lender will also instruct a solicitor to act on its behalf, which is usually the solicitor acting for the buyer, as long as they are approved by the lender. The solicitor will check the mortgage terms and arrange for the buyer to sign the mortgage deed.
Exchange of Contracts
This is the point at which the seller and buyer commit to the transaction. If either of them later attempt to back out or try to alter terms of the deal, they will suffer financial penalties and potentially be liable for any loss suffered by the other party. Thankfully, it is very rare for a contract to be broken.
The contract requires the buyer to pay a deposit, at which point the date for completion of the deal is fixed. This date will be included in the contract. If there is a chain of transactions taking place, sometimes fixing the completion date will require the assistance of an estate agent who will consult with each party in the conveyancing chain.
If it has not already taken place, the formal transfer deed will be signed, final land registry and bankruptcy searches are completed, mortgage money will be requested and sent to the buyer’s solicitor, and the final financial statements will be prepared.
The seller’s solicitor will check any amounts required to pay off existing loans, ensuring that everything is in order on their side.
On the completion date, the seller will move out of the property, the buyer’s solicitor will send the purchase money to the seller’s solicitor, and the solicitors agree between them which papers will need to be sent to whom.
When the money has been received, completion takes place (although neither the buyer or seller need to attend) and the keys are released to the buyer who is then able to move in.
After Completion and Registration of the Property
After completion, although the buyer and seller will have moved, there are still elements for each solicitor to deal with. The seller’s solicitor has to deal with the repayment of any mortgages on the property, as well as payment to estate agents and any further balance owed to the seller.
The buyer’s solicitor has to check the deeds and papers they receive, report to HMRC, pay stamp duty and register the purchase and/or mortgage at the Land Registry. Once completed, the solicitor then has to inform the mortgage lender and the buyer, ensuring that the right paper and documents arrive with each party.