The legal process of buying and selling a property is called conveyancing. Conveyancer is the generic term given to either a conveyancing solicitor or licenced conveyancer. All solicitors practising law in England and Wales must also be registered with the Law Society. There are separate societies for Northern Ireland and Scotland.
As soon as your offer is accepted the estate agent will ask for your conveyancer’s details to pass onto the seller’s conveyancer.
The following is a general outline of the conveyance process for a buyer:
1. Once you have instructed your solicitor / conveyancer you will receive confirmation of your instruction setting out terms of business and associated fees. Make sure you are happy with their services and pricing before signing and returning.
2. Your solicitor will require photographic I.D. along with proof of address ie. utility bill / mobile phone bill.
3. Your solicitor / conveyancer will more than likely require funds in advance to cover the cost of searches etc.
4. Your solicitor will contact the seller’s solicitor to request the draft contract. This should arrive with a pack that includes information on the property’s title and the standard forms completed by the seller. If the property is leasehold a copy of the lease will also be included.
5. Many people buy houses in joint names and, as such, need to be aware of an important decision to be made in relation to joint ownership. There are two ways that you can jointly own a property:
Joint tenants – this is where both parties have an equal interest in the property and if one of you dies the survivor automatically owns the property.
Tenants in common – you each own a specific share of the property and can leave that share by will, in the event of your death.
Before you commit to buying the property your solicitor will ask you your wishes regarding shared ownership.
6. The solicitor will examine the draft contract documents and if necessary raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. You will be required to go through the standard forms that the seller has completed and let the solicitor know if everything is as you expected.
If the property that you are buying is leasehold, your solicitor will send a standard Managing Agents Questionnaire to the seller’s solicitors which will in turn be sent on to relevant Landlord/Managing Agents/Residents Association.
7. If you are taking out a mortgage your solicitor will receive a copy of the offer and go through the conditions.
8. Once answers to all the enquiries have been returned, they will be examined by your solicitor and if they are satisfactory, you will be invited to sign the contract and any mortgage documents. You will need to make arrangements for the deposit to be transferred into your solicitor’s bank account so that it is cleared in time for an exchange.
9. Before exchange of contracts can take place your lender (if you have one) will require you to have a buildings insurance policy in place.
10. Seller and buyer agree on a completion date and contracts are formally exchanged, meaning both parties are formally committed to the transaction.
11. Your solicitor / conveyancer will draw up the transfer deed so that the property can be registered in your name as soon as possible after completion.
12. Your solicitor / conveyancer prepares a completion certificate and will carry out pre-completion searches.
13. Your conveyancer / solicitor will apply to your mortgage lender for the mortgage loan.
14. Completion is when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money that is due. Once this has happened the seller should drop the keys off to the estate agent ready for you to collect.
15. Your solicitor will arrange for the title deeds to be registered in your name and if the property is leasehold ensure that your name is entered on to the lease.
16. Your solicitor / conveyancer sends the stamp duty payable (if any) to HMRC.
17. Finally, if you have taken out a mortgage, the deeds are sent to your lender for safe keeping until you either sell the property or pay off the loan.