The Stages of the Conveyancing Process
Conveyancing refers to the legal and administrative processes by which the ownership of property is safely transferred from one person to another. It is at the help of your conveyancing solicitor to assist you in ensuring that the whole process goes smoothly and the legal ownership passes from seller to buyer.
The transferring of property ownership is a big transfer and possibly a person's biggest financial decision that they could ever make, so it is important to get the correct legal assistance with that big step. It is also important for all parties involved to understand the conveyancing process.
Below we have put together the stages of the conveyancing process to show and assure you how smooth the process can be.
Stage One - The Initial Stages
You will need a conveyancing solicitor to help you if you are either buying or selling a property. If you are selling for example, once you have a buyer ready, your conveyancing solicitor will send you several forms to fill out for completion. Your buyer and their solicitors will be relying upon your side for the forms filled out correctly before they decide whether to proceed - and if so, on what terms.
For preliminary matters, before you put your property on the market you must produce an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) to a buyer before the exchange of contracts.
Keeping on top of your side of the paperwork can speed things up that come next, including obtaining deeds, assessing your current mortgage situation and assembling any relevant information needed to prepare for the contract of the sale.
In most cases, when a property is sold, all mortgages or loans secured against the property must be repaired upon completion. We will not deal with any debt or loan which is not charged to the property title.
Stage Two - Enquiries and Conveyance Searches
The solicitor of the seller’s next task is to obtain the property's certificate of ownership, as well as their Building Society, Bank or the Land Registry.
All the relevant documentation that has been gathered will then allow them to prepare a contract for the sale of the property and will send the buyers’ solicitors all information.
Part of the conveyancing process always involves searches when buying a house. This makes sure there are no adverse matters that the buyer should be aware of before they go through with the purchase.
An expert eye is required to ensure of any potential hidden problems - this includes issues such as; Environmental Matters, Local, Drainage, Mining, and Chancel Searches - all of which should be considered and dealt with with great care before fully committing to the purchase of the property.
Any property queries can make the process quite long as it relies on the back and forth of both parties which are both dependent on each other for the next step.
Step Three - Securing Your Mortgage and House Survey
Once the results of the property searches have been completed and received a property report is created. If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage then that application will be dealt with by the lender including arranging for valuation survey to be undertaken as part of the application process. The solicitor for the buyer will also be acting for the lender and a report on title will be required for the lender so that they are satisfied that their instructions and requirements have been complied with.
When the buyers apply for their mortgage, they will usually be able to ask the lender's surveyor to carry out a Home Buyers’ Survey at the same time as the valuation.
Step Four - Signing the Contract
Once the buyer’s solicitors have received the all the paperwork from the sellers’ solicitors, including the searches results and a copy of the buyer’s mortgage offer, they will arrange to go through all documentation with the buyers or send the buyers a written report to advise them fully about the property and to discuss several other matters including:
- Building Insurance - if you have a mortgage then the lender will insist on the property being insured - the insurance may need to start from the date of the exchange of contracts.
- Mortgage Repayment - the buyer needs to have made arrangements with the lender for repaying the mortgage at this point.
- Joint Ownership - if there is more than one person, they will be “joint owners” and you must discuss the joint ownership with us.
- Deposit - you are provided to pay 10% of the purchase property price to enable the exchange of the contracts. If you borrow more than 90% from your lender you will have to negotiate a reduced deposit. A deposit is usually passed up through the chain, so if someone pays a reduced deposit the seller can normally claim the balance of the 10% off you if there is a problem later.
- Money - it is important to ensure that your deposit money is not locked away in a Bank or Building Society account requiring some notice period to extract it. Any cheques to be used should be supplied at least seven working days before the exchange date.
- Will - it is wise to consider creating a Will if you have not already in the event of your death.
Once these topics have been discussed then the buyers will be asked to sign the contract to buy the property - signing is not the same as exchanging - only when contracts are exchanged the deal becomes legally binding.
Step Five - Contract Exchange
Once everyone is satisfied, the competition and moving date is put into the contract. Until contracts are exchanged, neither party is legally committed to proceed, even at this point, either party may withdraw. Ideally, at least 7 days should be left as a buffer between the exchange of contracts and completion although its now more and more common for there to be less time and even simultaneous exchange and completion.
Solicitors on both sides will be busy dealing with various administrative tasks, including obtaining the money from the lender if there is a mortgage. The buyers' solicitors should receive sufficient money from the buyers' lenders and the deposit to enable them to pay for the property.
Step Six - The Completion
Prior to the completion of the purchase, we will send you a completion statement. Money due must be received a few days before the completion date so the funds are cleared in time. The buyer’s solicitor will receive the legal transfer document and it's the seller's solicitors to authorise either the seller or their estate agents to hand over the keys to the buyers.
After the completion, the buyer's solicitors have to pay any stamp duty land tax, the registration of the property and the registration of the Land Registry and notification of the freehold owner if the property is leasehold.
At Bell Lamb & Joynson, we can be by your side throughout the home-buying process. Based in the North West, we are your go-to local conveyancing solicitors. Get in touch and contact us today for more information, help and guidance.