Buying

What is Conveyancing?

Posted June 26, 2024
What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from one person to another. It involves several steps and is essential for ensuring that the transaction is legally valid.

This process can be quite complex and requires the expertise of a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. Let’s break it down step by step.

The Role of a Conveyancer

A conveyancer is a legal professional who specialises in property law. They manage the legal aspects of buying and selling property. Their main role is to ensure that the transaction is carried out smoothly and legally. They handle everything from checking the property’s title to transferring the funds.

Steps in the Conveyancing Process

Step 1: Instructing the Conveyancer

The first step in the conveyancing process is to instruct a conveyancer. You, as the buyer or seller, will need to appoint a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to act on your behalf. This professional will be your main point of contact throughout the transaction.

Step 2: Initial Documentation

Once instructed, the conveyancer will prepare initial documentation. If you are a buyer, you will complete a form with your details and provide proof of funds. If you are a seller, you will fill out a property information form. This form includes details about the property, such as boundaries, disputes, and fixtures.

Step 3: Property Searches

Property searches are a crucial part of the conveyancing process. These searches help identify any issues that might affect the property’s value or your ability to use it. Common searches include:

  • Local Authority Search: Checks for planning permissions, building control consents, and any potential development plans in the area.
  • Environmental Search: Assesses risks like flooding or land contamination.
  • Water and Drainage Search: Confirms whether the property is connected to the mains water and drainage system.
  • Chancel Repair Search: Determines if the property has a liability to contribute to the repair of the local parish church.

These searches can take a few weeks to complete. The conveyancer will inform you of any issues found.

Step 4: Reviewing the Contract

The seller’s conveyancer will prepare a draft contract. This contract outlines the terms and conditions of the sale. Your conveyancer will review it and raise any questions or concerns. They will also negotiate any changes needed.

Step 5: Mortgage Offer

If you are buying the property with a mortgage, your lender will issue a formal mortgage offer. The offer will be sent to both you and your conveyancer. They will review the offer to ensure it matches your understanding of the loan terms.

Step 6: Exchange of Contracts

Once all searches are completed and issues resolved, you are ready to exchange contracts. This is a crucial step. Both parties sign identical contracts and exchange them through their conveyancers. At this point, the sale becomes legally binding. A deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price, is paid by the buyer.

Step 7: Completion

Completion is the final step. This is the day when the remaining funds are transferred to the seller, and you receive the keys to the property. Your conveyancer will handle the financial transactions and ensure all legal documents are properly executed.

Post-Completion Steps

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)

After completion, if applicable, you must pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT). This tax applies to most property purchases. The amount depends on the property’s purchase price and your circumstances. Your conveyancer will calculate the tax and submit the return on your behalf.

Land Registry

The final step involves registering the property with the Land Registry. Your conveyancer will submit the “AP1” form and pay the registration fee. This process updates the legal ownership from the seller’s name to yours. The Land Registry will then send you the updated title deeds.

Common Questions About Conveyancing

How Long Does Conveyancing Take?

The conveyancing process typically takes between eight to twelve weeks. However, the timeline can vary depending on several factors, such as delays in property searches, mortgage approval, or issues found in the title deeds.

How Much Does Conveyancing Cost?

Conveyancing fees vary depending on the complexity of the transaction and the conveyancer’s rates. You can expect to pay between £500 and £1,500 for standard conveyancing services. Additional costs may include search fees, SDLT, and Land Registry fees.

Can I Do My Own Conveyancing?

Technically, you can do your own conveyancing. However, it is not recommended unless you have extensive knowledge of property law. The process is complex and mistakes can be costly. Most people find it safer to hire a professional conveyancer.

What is a Chain in Property Transactions?

A chain occurs when multiple property transactions depend on each other completing. For example, the person selling to you may also be buying a new property, and their seller is doing the same. Chains can complicate and delay the conveyancing process. Some properties are offered chain-free.

Conclusion

Conveyancing is a vital aspect of buying or selling property. It ensures that all legal requirements are met, and the transaction is completed smoothly. By understanding the steps involved and working with a professional conveyancer, you can avoid common pitfalls and enjoy a hassle-free property transaction.

Remember, always communicate with your conveyancer and ask questions if you are unsure about any part of the process. This will help you stay informed and confident in your property dealings.