Whether you are moving house or want to find a better mortgage deal, you need to appoint a conveyancing solicitor to look after your legal interests and ensure everything progresses to completion without a hitch.
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Conveyancing is the legal term given to the process of buying and selling a house and transferring ownership of a property. A conveyancing solicitor can be one of your biggest assets in ensuring that the sale and purchase of a house or property goes through without a hitch.
The reasons behind the Conveyancing process
People often think that Conveyancers get paid for doing very little, but in fact the Conveyancing process can be complicated and is very important.
The Conveyancing process is designed to make sure that:
- the seller actually owns the property they say they own,
- the buyer and seller are who they say they are,
- the seller is free to sell the property and there are no other financial or legal claims on the property,
- there are no actions being undertaken by the local authority, local water utilities etc that could affect the value of the property,
- if it is a Leasehold property – that the Freeholder and Management companies are properly involved in the transaction,
- the exchange of money is handled properly and safely,
- that any mortgages are correctly dealt with,
- The property does get properly transferred and registered.
How long will the process take?
Once offers have been accepted, and conveyancers instructed, the waiting begins. The process usually takes around eight weeks, but can take less, and often takes much more, depending on a variety of factors including the type of property, the length of the chain and the actions of the other people involved.
So, what is happening all this time?
The main events in the process are:
- Receipt of draft contract. This is drawn up by the seller’s solicitor stating the particulars of sale and the Conditions of Sale and will be altered by both sides over the coming weeks.
- Preliminary enquiry. The buyer’s solicitor sends a set of standard pre-contract enquiries to the seller’s solicitor, and checks the draft contract for specific queries. These cover issues such as possible boundary disputes, restrictive covenants, rights of way and so on.
- Property information form. The seller will receive a property information form. Check that this tallies with what you thought you were buying (this includes items such as fixtures and fittings).
- Land charge and registry searches. The title deeds, along with the Land Registry certificate is obtained and confirmation is made that the seller isn’t bankrupt and actually owns the property.
- Local searches. A check is made of any new developments planned within a small area around your property. However, if you want to be sure that a massive superstore isn’t going up just outside of the search area, you can pay for a plan search, or visit the planning department of your town hall and check yourself. Searches are also made of the water drainage systems and other social infrastructure, and a check made for any restrictions on extending or renovating. Searches can take anything up to ten weeks to complete, so, if you’re in a hurry you can pay for a personal search undertaken manually by a specialist, in a fraction of the time.
- Draft contract approved. Once the draft contract is agreed, it is sent to both sides for signature.
- Formal mortgage offer. A formal mortgage offer is required at this stage.
- Arrange for Completion. With the help of the solicitors and estate agents a convenient completion date for everyone in the chain is agreed. This is usually your moving day.
- Exchange. Both parties sign the contract and copies are exchanges. You normally pay your deposit at this point. If you pull out after this you will be liable to compensate the other party!
- Completion. At last, on the agreed date (often around two weeks after the exchange date), funds will be sent from the mortgage company to your solicitor and transfer of ownership takes place.