We often get asked: ‘What is the actual conveyancing process?’
And, the question is a fair one. Solicitors do speak in a different language from the rest of the world, and it can be confusing, especially if you’ve never bought and sold property before, or for a long time.
I like to send my clients a detailed list of what will happen once they have found a buyer for their house and/or a house that they want to buy themselves.
This helps them to recognise and be prepared for each stage as it happens.
Today I’m sharing our process with you. If you are using a different solicitor, the process might vary slightly, but this should give you a good idea…
- Step 1: Whether they are buying or selling, before we start we need our client to provide evidence of identification. This is a legal requirement to protect against money laundering. The identification is then checked in a variety of ways (in common with banks and building societies when you open an account). We will also ask them to officially instruct us to carry out various tasks on their behalf – such as filing a tax return on their purchase.
If you are selling a property:
- Step 2: We ask our clients to make us aware as soon as they have received an offer (or received indication that one is imminent). When we receive this information, we do the following:
a) Apply for the title deeds from the lender (to enable us to produce the final contract).
b) Provide our client with a breakdown of the costs involved, including a redemption figure in anticipation of redeeming their mortgage.
c) Send them a Sale Questionnaire and Fixtures & Fittings list to complete. This forms part of the contract with the purchaser.
- Step 3: A draft contract is sent to the purchaser’s lawyer, together with all the supporting documents.
- Step 4: The purchaser’s lawyer will confirm to us that the contract has been approved. We then ask our client to sign it, along with other documents so that we are prepared for exchanging contracts.
- Step 5: When the purchaser’s lawyer has received the local searches and their client’s mortgage offer, and is happy that there are no legal problems with the property, we will negotiate a completion date, and the deposit with them, taking into account your preferences. Provided all parties are satisfied, contracts can then be exchanged.
- Step 6: On the completion date, the property must be vacated and be clear of all of our client’s possessions (other than those which they have agreed to leave) by 12 noon. The client will then leave the keys to the property with the estate agent, unless any other arrangements have been made and agreed to.
- Step 7: From the proceeds sent to us by the purchaser’s lawyer, we will pay off the mortgage (if any) and settle the estate agent’s invoice. Any balance left over will then be sent to our client.
If you are buying a property:
- Step 2: Our client advises us that they have made an offer on a property.
- Step 3: As soon as we know that our client has made an offer, we will ask them to complete a purchase questionnaire, the answers to which will help us with our enquiries of the seller’s lawyer. Searches will need to be carried out for our client’s benefit and to satisfy their lender, so they will also be asked to send us a payment to enable us to carry these out.
- Step 4: the seller’s lawyer will send us the draft contract. As soon as we receive this we:
a. Apply for searches as appropriate
b. Check the contract and legal documents that relate to the property. We will usually raise additional enquiries of the seller’s lawyer. When we are satisfied that all is in order, we will send one copy of the contract to the seller’s lawyer and retain one copy for our client to sign.
- Step 5: Where borrowing is required to buy the property, the mortgage offer must be received from the lender in advance of exchanging contracts, so we ask for this next.
- Step 6: If our client is arranging any new life policies, we must have received acceptance of risk from insurers before exchange of contracts, so we follow this up with our client.
- Step 7: When we have received all the requested searches, offer of mortgage and satisfied ourselves as to the title, we write to our client detailing the terms of the mortgage, (if there is one) the results of the searches, and details of the title (covenants and leases where appropriate) and ask them to sign the contract and mortgage deed.
- Step 8: We will need to have received and cleared the amount agreed as a deposit before exchange of contracts can be carried out. Where there is a related sale we will normally be able to arrange for the amount received from our client’s buyer as a deposit on their purchase and this subsequently passes up the chain where appropriate.
- Step 9: We are now ready to exchange contracts. However, it may be that there are other people involved in a chain, in other words our client’s seller is buying another property in which there is someone living who needs to find and purchase another property. Their buyer may also be involved in a chain. This is where it gets complicated as everyone wants to move in and complete their sale and purchase on the same day, to avoid having to use ‘bridging’ finance. It is our responsibility to arrange and organise the completion date that will suit all parties, but we may have to wait until everyone in the chain has been through the same process as our client. This is not easy, but we are in constant contact with the estate agents and lawyers until the completion date has been agreed and exchange is carried out.
- Step 10: When exchange has taken place, the completion date is legally binding (the buyer will lose – at least – their deposit if they do not proceed) so the client can start to make arrangements to move.
- Step 11: At completion we send our client a statement of account showing all the monies received and paid out. Where there is a balance required to complete we ask to have this four days before the day of completion.
- Step 12: On completion day, if our client has a related sale, we wait for the buyer’s lawyer to transfer the sale money before we in turn send the money to the client purchaser’s lawyer.
For more information about our conveyancing process, or to find out more about how we could help you, get in touch with our team on 01403 710742 or request a quote.