Conveyancing is a catch-all phrase used to describe the legal work that goes on between your offer being accepted, you and the seller exchanging contracts, and the completion of the sale.
For a safe and risk free transaction it is advisable that both the parties should have a Solicitor or a Conveyancer acting on their behalf to in order to protect their own interests.
Once the offer is accepted
The seller is responsible for drawing up a legal contract to transfer ownership.
The contract contains details about:
- The sale price
- The property boundaries
- Which fixtures and fittings (like carpets and kitchen units) are included
- Any legal restrictions or rights, like public footpaths or rules about using the property
- Any planning restrictions
- Services to the property, like drainage and gas
- When the sale will complete
The Solicitor/Conveyancer on behalf of the Seller will
- Draft the initial contract
- Answer questions from the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer (with the seller’s help
- Negotiate the details of the contract if necessary
When the buyer and seller are happy with the contract, both sides sign final copies and send them to each other.
The agreement to sell and buy is legally binding once this happens. Usually neither party can pull out without paying compensation.
Once you exchange contracts and deal with any remaining checks the buyer has asked for:
- The money is transferred from the buyer to the seller.
- The legal documents needed to transfer ownership are handed over to the buyer.
- The seller moves out and leaves the property in the state agreed in the contract.
- The seller hands over the keys to the buyer.
- The property then belongs to the buyer.
The Process of Conveyancing :
Stage 1: Pre exchange
There is no legal obligation on buyer or seller to proceed at any point – even once they have signed the contract. Either can change their mind and withdraw from the transaction, without liability to the other, until contracts are ‘exchanged’
Sale agreed at a given price ‘subject to contract and buyer and seller each instruct a conveyance.
- Estate agent sends “Memorandum of sale’ to all parties. Each conveyance agrees terms of instruction, carries out money laundering checks (verification of ID), and requests payment on account of fees/expenses.
- Produces (with input from seller and Land Registry) a ‘contract pack’ to send to buyer’s conveyancer, comprising.
- Contract (for seller to sell property to buyer)
- Title information (from Land Registry and/or any deeds)
- Property information form (detailing seller’s personal knowledge of property) and fittings & contents list.
Receives ‘contract pack’ Process is then driven by them, covering three main areas: Enquires, Searches and Mortagage (if Applicable)
- Enquires. Asks seller’s conveyacner questions arising from contract pack, i.e. things buyer will need to know (especially anything which may influence their decision to proceed), such as:
- Disputes/lack of clarity over boundaries, access rights etc.
- Details (including guarantees) of alterations made by the seller.
- Details of any flooding, subsidence and similar events.
- Rights/obligations in the property’s title (e.g. restrictions on use).
- Details of utilities and similar services.
- Searches. Carries out various searches to establish things buyer needs to know about various searches to establish things buyer needs to know about property, such as:
- Local Authority search: planning/other permissions/consents.
- Water & drainage search: what provision exists at the property.
- Environmental search: what environmental issues may affect the property.
- Mortgage. Carries out work required by lender. For buyer, checks.
- Conditions of mortgage offer (if any): checks to ensure theses can be complied with.
- Valuation report: may need to check this (which buyer will have received from lender).
- Mortgage deed: checks this and sends to buyer for signature.
Report on title. Buyer’s conveyance then reports to buyer, highlighting anything which may be of concern. Something things have to be reported to buyer’s mortgage provider and permission to proceed obtained.
Deposit and documents. Obtains funds from buyer to pay deposit to seller’s conveyacner. Gathers documents needed for exchanges for buyer t sign where required: Contract; Mortgage deed and Transfer document.
Both conveyancers agree completion date (moving date), which must be acceptable to all buyers/sellers in chain.
Event: Exchange (of Contracts)
- Buyers conveyance pays deposit to seller’s conveyacner.
- Both conveyancers agree that each holds a signed contract and that all terms (including completion date) are agreed. Each then sends to the other the contract which their client has signed.
Transaction becomes legally binding on both buyer and seller, i.e. neither can back out of the transaction without incurring serious financial penalties. Both are committed to agreed completion date.
Stage 2: Pre-completion
- Completion statement. Prepares this buyer, showing funds coming from new mortgage, fees and charges payable, funds coming from any related sale, and balance due from buyer.
- Requests funds. Arranges for mortgage funds and any balance of purchase price t be sent to them for completion.
- Searches. Carries out final searches (bankruptcy and Land Registry) and arranges signing of any documents not already signed.
- Existing mortgage (s) and estate agent’s bill. Obtains up-to-date figures to repay any existing mortgage(s) and estate agent’s bill.
- Completion statement. Prepares this for seller, showing how sale proceeds will be divided up (between existing mortgage(s), fees & charges, and balance to seller/related purchase).
Seller moves out and buyer moves in. Conveyacners handle the technical aspects, leaving buyer and seller to concentrate on moving.
- Checks funds. Check mortgage and other funds required to pay balance of purchase price and costs have been received.
- Pays purchase price (less deposit paid on exchange) to seller’s conveyance.
- Receives funds from buyer’s conveyancner.Key release. Authorises estate agent to release keys to buyer (once funds have been received).Settles existing mortgage(s) (if any)Balance of funds. Sends (less amount required to pay fees) to seller or to any related purchase.
Stage 3: Post-Completion
Both sets of conveyancers between them ensure that:
- Transfer of ownership and any new mortgage are properly registered at Land Registry.
- Old mortgage(s) on the property is/are properly discharged.
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) on the purchase is paid.
- Discharges old mortgage (s). Ensure these have been removed by lender(s) and by Land Registry.
- Title documents. Sends transfer document and Title Information Document from Land Registry (or Deeds if unregistered property) to buyer’s conveyance.
- Pays Costs. Pays their own bill and state agent’s commission.
- SDLT. Pays this.
- Title documents. Receives these from seller’s conveyance.
- Registration. Registers change of ownership and new mortgage with Land Registry (Paying relevant fee).
- Pays costs. Pays their own bill for conveyancing charges.
1. Limitations of this booklet
This booklet describes the conveyancing process in its simplest form, based on a typical sale/purchase of a freehold house. The process for leasehold properties (e.g. flats) is more complicated. Timing can also vary considerably-especially if there is a long chain. Things can only happen as quickly as the slowest link in the chain, which means that some transactions proceed more slowly that others.
2. Related sale and purchase
If you are buying and selling at the same time, we will make sure that you are not committed to one side of the transaction without being able to proceed with the other.
3. Agreeing the completion date
Please check with us first, as it is frustrating to fix a date only to find that something somewhere in the chain means it cannot be achieved. The date needs to work for all buyers and sellers in the chain allowing enough time for mortgage and other funds to be obtained, removals arranged etc.