Great, you have found your ideal home, have put forward an offer which has successfully been accepted but not quite so sure as to what happens next with the conveyancing process. Not to worry – I have put together a quick brief on what happens next, when to instruct a conveyancing solicitor and what you will now be paying for.
Who is a Conveyancing Solicitor?
Simply put, a Conveyancing Solicitor or Conveyancer is lawyer who deals with property and land law. As you would imagine, being one of life’s biggest purchases, Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring the ownership of the property you want to buy from your sellers to you.
What a Conveyancing Solicitor does is establish and ensure the property you are looking to buy of course has a marketable title. Think of Conveyancing being the HPI check you would carry out when buying a car – has the car got any outstanding debt, has it been at some point written off following an accident; so on and so forth.
Conveyancing has historically been one of the most complicated, time consuming and stressful aspects of any house buying or selling experience. Though the process is highly regulated by independent bodies such as the Solicitors Regulation Authority, Law Society and Council for License Conveyancers – there are certain elements to the process which are pretty much left to the discretion of the person handling your transaction.
It is therefore crucial you choose a specialist property lawyer following some research as a bare minimum. Your Estate Agent or Sales Consultant (if you are buying a New Build Property) will no doubt ‘recommend’ a Solicitor however you are not obliged to use them. What these agents won’t say or disclose is the reasoning behind the recommendation – which is almost always based on a referral fee paid back to the agents by the Solicitors!
Giles Refoy of Express Conveyancing says –
“We receive a lot of customer enquiries almost daily by those have been referred to an agents’ ‘preferred solicitor’ and encounters too main problems –
- Their quotes are hundreds of pounds more than what you would find independently
- No assurances of time scales as naturally, when they raise concerns with their agents; it almost feels as if the agents are defending and making excuses for the delays on behalf of the solicitors
Don’t you think the whole process is convoluted? The Sellers Solicitors act for the Seller, The Estate Agent’s act for the seller and now the Solicitor who are supposed to represent the buyer too has been ‘recommended’ by the sellers (by extension)?
Our Conveyancing Service is unique in the sense that though we offer all conventional services available with a traditional single law firm, we have taken things a step further by combining resources between 30 or so independent firms operating on the highstreets with the added benefit now of uniform fees and speed (yes, much of transactions do complete in 4 weeks!).”
The Conveyancing Process Explained –
The Conveyancing Process can be broadly split into three stages –
- Post Completion
Pre-exchange refers covers the period between your offer being accepted by the seller and your solicitor exchanging contracts on your behalf. The seller’s solicitors would have similarly instructed a Conveyancer who will supply Title Information to yours who will carefully review all documents and raise any title enquiries for any information that appears incorrect, inaccurate or incomplete.
While the above takes place, your solicitors would also apply for Locality Searches with your Local Authority, the results of which will reveal any information pertaining instances such as contaminated land, planning proposals, building regulations etc. You will also in the meantime – independently to your conveyancer will now have completed a mortgage application and your lender would have sent a copy of the offer to you.
Assuming all replies to your solicitors enquires have now been satisfactorily responded to by your seller’s solicitors – you are now ready to sign your contract and transfer the ‘Exchange deposit’ (usually 10% of the purchase price) to your solicitor’s client account in readiness for the Exchange.
Remember – until contracts have Exchanged, there is no guarantee that the property is still yours. The sellers could change their mind, accept higher offers etc.
Following the Exchange, you now know Completion Dates are fixed – either you or the seller can no longer change their mind. Between Exchange and Completion, you will be able to arrange removals and your solicitors will request any outstanding money from you and your mortgage lender. This part of the transaction is relatively straightforward. On the day of completion, your solicitor will transfer the purchase money to your seller’s solicitors – following receipt of which you will be handed the keys to your new property!
Post Completion –
For all those of you who are interested, there is rarely any involvement on your part necessary at this stage. Your Solicitor will send an application out to the Land Registry with the various forms and deeds so that your details are recorded on the Deeds when it comes to you selling the property in the future.