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What Is Conveyancing?

Buying a property can be a challenging experience without the aid of an experienced property lawyer to navigate you through the conveyancing process.

But what is conveyancing work?

In this post, we’ll cover:

  • What is property conveyancing?
  • Who does the conveyancing?
  • What does a conveyancer do?
  • What is the conveyancing process?
  • What is a conveyancing fee?
  • And more.

Before we get into that, we must ask:

Questions Regarding Conveyancing.

What is House Conveyancing? 

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from one person to another.

The conveyancing process begins once an offer has been accepted on a property and ends when your ownership of the property is registered on the Land Registry.

Who Does the Conveyancing? 

You might be asking:

‘Why do I need a conveyancer when buying a home?’

Whether you’re looking to buy or sell, you’ll need a solicitor or conveyancer to help with the process.

While all solicitors can take on this work, experienced conveyancing solicitors will be the most sensible option.

Although you can do your own conveyancing, a licensed conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor are the best choices.

How to Find a Good Conveyancing Solicitor 

  1. Ensure they’re on your mortgage lender’s panel to avoid unnecessary complications later.
  2. Local solicitors will have a deeper knowledge of the area than one from another location.
  3. Ask friends and family for recommendations. An estate agent may not always recommend the best option.
  4. Check their credentials. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about what experience they’ve had.
  5. Make sure they provide a complete breakdown of their fees from the get-go, including VAT. (We’ll touch on the fees later on).
  6. Consider online conveyancing if you’re working on a tight budget but be aware you may not get the best customer service.

What Does a Conveyancer Do? 

A conveyancer will complete all the legal work to transfer the property’s ownership.

Their jobs include:

  • Talking with the seller’s conveyancer to get a contract pack.
  • Obtaining a copy of your mortgage offer.
  • Carrying out vital local authority searches on the property and analysing the results.
  • Organising a potential completion date.
  • Swapping contracts with the seller’s solicitor.
  • Transferring the deposit to the seller’s conveyancer.
  • Preparing a completion statement and transfer deeds.
  • Requesting payment from your lender for the mortgage advance.
  • Transferring the balance of the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor.
  • Submitting a tax return and paying Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC.
  • Sending the Land Registry documentation regarding the transfer of ownership.
  • Forwarding the title deeds to your mortgage lender.

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What is the Conveyancing Process?

Step 1: Draft Contract

Once a home offer has been accepted, the seller’s conveyancer will draft the contract.

This contract will outline the sale’s conditions and the deal’s terms, including the purchase price.

You will need to check the tenure of the property: is it a freehold or a leasehold?

If it’s a leasehold, you shouldn’t rely on the conveyancer to let you know the length of a lease.

For more information on a leasehold property, visit our post on what is a leasehold?

Step 2: Organise Survey 

The buyer’s conveyancer will then conduct building surveys to assess the property’s value.

A surveyor will look at the state of the building, the surrounding land and other external factors.

What Searches Are Involved in Conveyancing? 

  • Local authority searches – Provides information on planning issues, railway proximity and roadworks to see how they may affect your enjoyment of the property.
  • Environmental search – Looks at whether the land has a flood risk or if there is contaminated land.
  • Water and drainage search – Property surveyors will investigate whether the property is connected to public sewers.

Step 3: Approve Draft Contract 

After the property searches are complete, the two solicitors will negotiate the draft contract and its terms.

Once both parties are happy with the draft, they’ll both sign a copy in preparation for the exchange of contracts.

Step 4: Mortgage 

Mortgage lenders will instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf when organising your formal mortgage offer.

They’re typically the same solicitor the buyer uses.

The solicitor arranges for the buyer to sign the mortgage deed after the mortgage terms are checked.

Step 5: Exchange of Contracts 

A house purchase is not legally binding until contracts between the seller and buyer are exchanged.

After the exchange of contracts, both parties will become legally committed to the purchase and the agreed terms of the sale.

The fixed completion date will be set in this contract, and the buyer will need to pay a deposit.

If you’re certain about wanting the property, try acting as quickly as possible to avoid gazumping.

What is Gazumping? 

Gazumping is when a buyer has an offer accepted by a seller, but before the sale is completed, the seller receives and accepts a better offer from another buyer.

It’s a perfectly legal process, although a highly annoying one.

Step 6: After Exchange <h3>

You’ve not been gazumped, and the contracts have been exchanged!

Next, the formal transfer deeds are signed, and the final land registry searches are done.

Money from the mortgage will also be requested and sent to the buyer’s solicitor.

And the final financial statement will be prepared.

Step 7: Completion Date 

On the completion date, the change of ownership will be registered with the Land Registry after the seller moves out.

The conveyancing process is now over.

Step 8: After Completion Date

Your solicitor will now tie up loose ends:

  • The buyer’s solicitor pays Stamp Duty Land Tax and the Land Registry fee after they report the change in ownership to HMRC.
  • The seller’s solicitor deals with the repayment of mortgages on the property, fees for estate agents and left-over balance to the seller.

You may be wondering:

How long does conveyancing take on average?

The whole process should take around 8 – 12 weeks, but it’s not unusual to experience slight delays that might be out of your control.

What is a Conveyancing Fee?

Conveyancing fees are a range of legal costs you pay when buying or selling a home.

The cost of conveyancing is between £850-£1,500, but this price greatly depends on various factors.

For example, some may charge more if you intend to use a Lifetime or a Help to Buy ISA.

These fees include:

  • Searches.
  • Land Registry fees.
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax.
  • Cost of exchanging contracts, including postage and courier costs.

What is a conveyancing quote? 

Conveyancers all charge in different ways – fixed fee, hourly rate, or percentage of the property price.

Ensure you get quotes from various solicitors to see which best suits your needs and budget.

A conveyancing quote will state every cost covered, including VAT.