Conveyancing Processes Explained

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The process of buying or selling a property can feel long-winded and you may feel like your to-do list is getting out of hand. There are a lot of legal procedures and back and forth involved in most property transactions, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Our Conveyancers and Conveyancing Solicitors will deal with all the hard work for you so that you can sell your property, or move into your new home, as quickly as possible. We can make sure things run smoothly and help keep your property transaction as stress-free as possible.

Here’s our step by step guide to the Conveyancing process for buying and selling a house.

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Conveyancing Process for Buying a House

Arrange a mortgage

Before looking for a new home, it’s important to know your budget and how much you could borrow with a mortgage. Get in touch with lenders to get an offer in principle, this will help you find out exactly how much you can borrow before you begin.

An offer in principle will normally last around six months but this will depend on the Lender.

Your Mortgage Lender will also perform credit checks before going any further.

Find a house you can afford

Work out how much you can afford to spend on a property. When budgeting, you should think about:

  • Deposits
  • Mortgage repayments
  • Legal fees
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax
  • Maintenance costs and bills
  • Home insurance
  • Cost of removal companies if needed
  • Service charges if these apply (some flats and freehold estates will charge for general maintenance of communal areas)

Once you know your budget, you can then start checking the local papers, Estate Agents and online property websites to find your ideal home. The more properties you see, the more you’ll know what you’re looking for.

You can try and negotiate a lower price, but sellers are not obliged to reduce the price so you should always shop within your budget.

Make an offer

Once you’ve found the house you want to buy, it’s time to make an offer. Speak to the seller or their Estate Agent and let them know how much you’re prepared to offer.

This can be quite daunting if you haven’t done this before. The seller’s Estate Agent is legally obliged to pass on every offer, and if the seller doesn’t accept your offer, you can always make another one if it’s still within your budget.

Instruct a conveyancer

When you’ve found the home you want to buy it’s important to instruct a Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor to help you with your purchase. The right Conveyancing Solicitor will make sure your purchase progresses as quickly and smoothly as possible.

We can help you understand the process so you know exactly what you are buying and we will always be transparent about fees. Be careful of cheap Conveyancing fees as some Conveyancers will reveal additional costs as you go along.

Your Conveyancer can even help you put in an offer with the seller’s Estate Agent if you’ve not done this before.

Notify your lender

Contact the Lender and give them the property address and price. You’ll also need to provide them with details of your Conveyancer.

Your Lender will check your Conveyancing Solicitor is on their panel of Solicitors. Some lenders will only deal with Solicitors that are on their panel list.

Your Lender will then arrange for a valuation of the property, this isn’t the same as a Survey.

Get a survey

A survey examines a property’s condition and can highlight things such as structural faults and suggest any repairs or maintenance work that needs to be done. It can act as a safeguard against unforeseen problems with the property, problems that may cost you dearly in the future.

The last thing you want when moving into a new property is to find a costly surprise which could eventually cost you a lot of money to fix.

A survey could also help you renegotiate the selling price of the house. 

But what type of survey should you get? 

There are several different types of Surveys available on the market. When you’re deciding which Survey to go with, you’ll need to think about your budget as they can cost anywhere between £250 and £2,000.

You’ll also need to think about the age and general condition of the property when you’re making your decision.

The most common types of survey and their estimated cost:

  1. Condition Report – Cost £250+

This is the most basic of all property Surveys available. It highlights any obvious risks or defects, so it’s great for people who are buying a modern property in good condition and just need confirmation that there aren’t any obvious issues.

  1. Home Buyers Report - Cost £350+

This is a more detailed survey. The surveyor will check for structural problems and any issues that are likely to affect the value of the property, such as damp and subsidence.

But this report is non-intrusive, meaning the Surveyor will only look at visible areas of the property. They won’t look behind furniture or under floorboards. It is more thorough than a Condition Report but it’s not 100% fool-proof.

  1. Building Survey - Cost £500 - £2000

The most comprehensive property Survey available. It includes an analysis of the building’s structural integrity and condition, delving beyond the Home Buyers Report to check behind walls, below floorboards and behind furniture. It also provides detailed recommendations for repairs and informs you of timings and approximate costings. It will also forecast what is likely to happen if the suggested repairs aren’t carried out.

This is ideal for people buying older properties or properties in noticeably poor condition

There are two major organisations that provide property Surveys in the UK. Make sure that you only hire a Surveyor who is an accredited member of one. They are the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA)

 

Property searches

Property searches will be ordered by your Conveyancer once they’ve seen the contract papers from the seller’s Solicitor. These searches involve further investigations with the Local Authority, the water and drainage authority and environmental agencies.

Other searches may be needed depending on the location of the property, e.g. if the property is in an area with historical coal mining then a coal search will be ordered.

Additional enquiries

It’s not unusual for your Conveyancer to raise additional enquiries with the seller’s Solicitor once they’ve reviewed the contract papers. If there is something you want to ask about then you should let your Conveyancer know. For example, there may be something referred to in your Survey that you’d like to raise.

Exchange contracts

Once your Conveyancer is happy with the legal side of things and they have your signed documents, you can start talking about exchange of contracts and completion dates.

Exchange of Contracts is when the purchase is made legally binding. Neither you nor the seller can withdraw from the transaction without incurring financial implications. For example, if you put a deposit down on exchange of contracts then you run the risk of losing this entirely.

Completion day

Completion date is the day you get the keys and move in. The keys are usually collected from the estate agent but sometimes the seller will hand them over directly. Your Conveyancer will let you know what you need to do.

Your Conveyancer will usually need at least seven days between the exchange and completion, this is partly because most mortgage lenders ask for at least a week’s notice to release the mortgage funds.

After completion, your Conveyancer will begin registration at HM Land Registry. This can take several months but don’t worry, it’s just a formality and you don’t need to be part of this process.

Conveyancing Process for Selling a House

Set a selling price

Research the local property market to see how similar properties are priced and then get a valuation from different Estate Agents.

Remember you’re not tied to the price the Estate Agent comes up with and you’re free to settle on your own selling price. Bear in mind some Estate Agents will try and sell the legal work with their fee. Make sure you know how the fee is split so you don’t pay more than you need to.

Home buyers will often try and negotiate a lower price for the property, usually around the 5% to 10% mark, which means it could pay to add this percentage onto your initial asking price.

If you have a mortgage on the property, you should contact your Mortgage Lender and they’ll send you what’s called a redemption form showing how much you owe.

Choose an Estate Agent

You could choose to market the property yourself, but by using an Estate Agent you can market your house to a much wider customer base. Estate agents are also experts at negotiating, which will come in handy if a potential buyer decides to haggle.

Make sure you research how many properties an Estate Agent has sold in the area, ask how they will market the property and what they will do for you. It’s also a good idea to check if the Estate Agent has an exclusivity clause, which means you can only sell through them.

The offer

The Estate Agent is obliged by law to pass on every offer made for your property and it’s up to you which offers you choose to reject and accept.

Once you receive an offer that you’re happy with, contact your Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor and we will take care of the necessary legal paperwork.

Accepting an offer isn’t legally binding and you’re free to change your mind up until contracts are exchanged. You can also accept an offer subject to conditions, such as a sooner move in date.

Other costs

If you pay a management company or Landlord a service charge or a ground rent, then it is likely that your Conveyancing Solicitor will need to obtain a Leasehold Pack from them. You should contact the Management Company or Landlord to ascertain what their costs are for this information so that you can budget accordingly.

It is advisable to order the leasehold pack when you have found a buyer. The information in these packs are sometimes only valid for 6 months so don’t obtain this too early. At the same time, don’t obtain this information too late either because it can delay a sale. You will be able to order the Leasehold Pack through your Conveyancer but you will need to pay the costs to the Management Company or Landlord upfront.

Instruct a Conveyancing Solicitor

When your Estate Agent starts passing on offers for your property, you should be prepared by having a Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor ready to do all the legal paperwork for you once you accept an offer.

Complete forms

We’ll ask you to complete the Property Information Form and Fittings and Content Form while we prepare a draft contract for you. We will send the forms and contract to the buyer’s Conveyancer.

Your Conveyancing Solicitor will answer any enquiries the buyer may have for you, with your input if needed.

Renogation of selling price

The buyer might have a Survey carried out on your property and could ask you to lower the price depending on what they find.  

Before you make any decisions to reduce the selling price, think carefully about if you can afford to do so.

You could consider a reduction but with conditions such as an early exchange date which is when the sale will become legally binding. 

Exchange contracts

If you’re in a chain, exchanging contracts will happen when everyone in the chain is ready to move forward. Your Conveyancer will exchange contracts with the buyer’s Conveyancer and agree on a completion day. The completion date will need to be agreed with all parties in the chain.

Once you exchange contracts the property transaction will be legally binding, and you won’t be able to accept any other offers on your property.

Your Conveyancer will usually need at least seven days between exchange and completion to prepare. For example, once a completion date is agreed your Conveyancer may need to obtain an up to date redemption statement calculated to the day of completion. Most Mortgage Lenders ask for at least a week’s notice to provide this information.

Completion day

Completion is the day you legally must move out of your old property. You should give the keys to your Estate Agent and your Conveyancing Solicitor will release the keys directly to the buyer via the Estate Agent or, if you have agreed separately, you may hand the keys to the buyer directly.

The buyer’s Conveyancer will send the funds over to your Conveyancing Solicitor who will then redeem the existing mortgage on the account, pay the Estate Agents and send the sale proceeds to you. Or if you’re moving into a new home, we’ll pass the money from your sale onto the seller’s Conveyancer.

If you’re not sure about the conveyancing process, don’t worry. We can reassure you every step of the way. We will always speak to you in plain English, so you won’t have to worry about translating any legal jargon.

Our conveyancing fees are transparent and we will always be open and honest about what you need to pay before we complete any work for you. Get a free instant online Fixed Fee Conveyancing Quote now. If no additional work is needed, the quote you get is all you’ll be asked to pay.

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