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Typical Conveyancing Questions Asked
In the world of property transactions, it is not always clear what conveyancing is and how it works to complete the process of transferring property from one person to another. Solicitors will invariably take care of this process for you. Here we look at how they go about doing this, and what steps will need to be taken so you can be assured of a seamless and stress-free move.
As suggested, conveyancing is simply the transfer of the legal title of a house from one person to another. There are normally two stages to this – the first being the exchange of contracts, the point at which the terms of the deal are fixed, and the second being the completion, where the legal title passes.
Moving house can be a stressful experience, even when it comes to organising your personal affects, without the need to organise the legal duties yourself. That is where solicitors on our panel come in, with a range of conveyancing services.
As with many things in the legal world, the conveyancing system has a process that has to be adhered to, and a number of steps completed succinctly and professionally to service the client in the best possible way. Here are those steps – with a small description of what it entails:
Once an offer has been accepted, the seller’s solicitor will draft the contract. The contract will outline the conditions of sale, the terms of the deal including the price and any particulars that need to be kept in mind. At the same time, the seller will provide a lot of information about the property and the seller’s solicitor will check and then provide details of the seller’s legal title to the property.
Once the buyer’s solicitor has checked all the initial paperwork and the contract it will be up to the solicitor to make some initial preliminary checks regarding the property and its current owner and then ask 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 enquires.
The survey is the next thing to be organised in the process by the buyer’s solicitor. This will check the state of the building, the condition of the surrounding land as well as the assessment of external factors such as drainage systems and whether there are any local developments planned in the near future. The buyer’s solicitor will also make various searches, including checking any outstanding issues with the local authority, including planning, and can also include searches about flood risk, contaminated land and other environmental issues.
While the survey of the property is being completed, both solicitors will negotiate terms on the draft contract. Once this has been finalised and each party happy, the contract can be made official and each party can sign a copy in readiness for exchange.
If you are getting a mortgage then you need a formal mortgage offer. The lender will also instruct a solicitor to act on its behalf. Usually this is the solicitor acting for the buyer if that solicitor is approved by the lender. The solicitor will check the mortgage terms and arrange for the buyer to sign the mortgage deed.
This is the point at which the seller and buyer commit to the transaction and if they later back out or try and change the terms of the deal will suffer financial penalties and be liable to for any loss suffered by the other party. Thankfully it is very rare for a contract to be broken. The contract will require the buyer to pay a deposit and the date for completion of the deal is fixed. This date will be included in the contract. If there is a chain of transactions sometimes fixing the completion date require assistance from the Estate Agents who can talk to everyone in the conveyancing chain.
If it has not already been done the formal transfer deed is signed, final land registry and bankruptcy searches are done, the mortgage money is requested and sent to the buyer’s solicitor and the final financial statements are prepared. The seller’s solicitor will check how much is needed to pay off any existing loans and make sure everything is ready on their side. All the things that need to be done so everything is ready for the day of completion.
On the completion date the seller’s move out of the property, the buyer’s solicitor sends the purchase money to the seller’s solicitor and the solicitors agree between them what papers have to be sent. When the money has been received completion takes place (but the buyer and seller do not need to attend) and the keys are released to the buyer who is then able to move in.
After completion although the buyer and seller will have moved there is still a lot of work for the solicitors to deal with. The seller’s solicitor has to deal with repayment of any mortgages on the property, pay the estate agents and pay over any balance to the seller.
The buyer’s solicitor has to check the deeds and papers they receive, report to HMRC and pay and Stamp Duty and register the purchase and the mortgage at the Land Registry. Once that has all been done the solicitor then has to tell the mortgage lender and the buyer and make sure the right papers and documents are sent to the right people.
If you are buying or selling a flat then there are lots of extra steps that have to be taken to make sure the terms of the lease are complied with and the landlord and managing agent know that the flat has changed hands. The mortgage lender also has a lot of extra checks it asks the solicitor to deal with.
Buying and selling a house can be a complicated process, but part of your solicitor’s job is to make this as easy and stress free as possible for you and to ensure the majority of the burden is taken off your hands. It’s important to get a qualified conveyancing solicitor to undertake your property work. A number of things need to be considered such as whether they have the experience to undertake your transaction and whether it matters where they are based.
The Law Society has a special quality scheme, the Conveyancing Quality Standard. Make sure your solicitor is a member so you know they have been approved by the Law Society as a good conveyancing solicitor.