First-time buyers can be surprised by just how much of a process buying a house actually is. Although in an ideal world it would be as simple as finding your dream home, paying the money, and picking up the keys, unfortunately, the reality is not quite as straightforward. Many people’s confusion starts with the concept of conveyancing.
Combine that with all the legal jargon and it can feel like an impossible task. Whilst buying a house definitely isn’t an uncomplicated process, luckily there are ways to make the whole process simpler and less stressful. This article walks you through everything you need to know about conveyancing.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing refers to the legal transfer of the title to a property from one owner (the seller) to a new one (the buyer). The process usually involves either a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer. When the buyer accepts your offer on the house, the process begins. It concludes once the ownership is officially transferred and registered with the Land Registry. The ownership of the land is transferred through an instrument of conveyance.
Conveyancing occurs through two major stages: exchange of contracts and completion. In this article, we will explain both of these major stages.
1. What is the Exchange of Contracts?
The exchange of contracts is when a buyer and a seller exchange signed contracts and the buyer puts down a deposit. Typically both parties’ legal representatives carry out this process. It is only once the exchange of contracts has taken place that the agreement for the sale of the property in question is legally binding. Up until this point either party has the right to withdraw.
Typically before the exchange of contracts takes place, the purchase price will be negotiated and seller’s solicitors will send over information about the property to your conveyancing solicitor, at which point enquiries are raised and answered to ensure that you are provided with all of the information you require to make an informed decision about your purchase.
2. What is the Day of Completion?
Simply put, the day of completion is the day on which the balance of money due in the transaction is transferred from the buyer to the seller. Once the money has been transferred the buyer then receives the keys to the property in exchange and this completes the transaction.
What is an instrument of conveyance?
An instrument of conveyance is a legal document such as a lease, title or deed. It outlines all the relevant details of the transaction including the agreed purchase price and the date of the transfer (i.e.completion)
Why is conveyancing important?
Conveyancing is a due diligence process designed to protect both the buyer and seller. It ensures that the agreement they enter into is legal, binding, and watertight.
From the buyers’ perspective, this includes verifying that they know exactly what they’re paying for and that through purchasing they’ll gain ownership of the proper title to the land and enjoy all associated rights.
This process confirms to the seller that they will indeed receive the total agreed purchase price and that they are protected from litigation or claims post-sale.
What does a conveyancing solicitor do?
Although you could technically choose to take care of conveyancing yourself, it’s advisable to instruct an experienced conveyancing solicitor. Not only is conveyancing is a lengthy and labour-intensive process, but requires a certain level of expertise and experience.
This article focuses on what a conveyancing solicitor acting on behalf of a buyer does. However, if you’re selling your property, your conveyancer will carry out a slightly different set of tasks.
The seller’s solicitor will draft a sale contract and your conveyancing solicitor will receive the draft, work through it, and negotiate terms on your behalf.
ID and anti-money laundering checks
Your conveyancing solicitor will verify your identity and also carry out an anti-money laundering check.
Carry out searches
Your conveyancing solicitor will carry out relevant searches and a survey for you. This will include checks on the title register to confirm the ownership of the land, as well as an environmental, local authority, and water and drainage searches of the property. For example, as well as checks on the general state of the property. The point of these searches is to identify any potential problems with the property in question, especially those that will potentially influence your mortgage.
Liaise with the seller’s conveyancer
The searches may throw up some unanticipated problems. Your solicitor will undertake communications with the seller’s conveyancer to iron out any issues. They will also set the date for exchange of contracts and completion.
Secure your mortgage
Your conveyancing solicitor will work through your mortgage offer and identify any particular conditions associated with the loan that you should be aware of.
Transfer funds & pay stamp duty
The conveyancing solicitor will be responsible for sending your money to the seller’s solicitor. They will also run checks over all the deeds and documents they receive as well as pay stamp duty.
Register your ownership with land registry
Once everything is in order, your conveyancing solicitor will register the change of ownership with the Land Registry.
What is the difference between a conveyancing solicitor and conveyancer?
A conveyancing solicitor is a qualified lawyer that specialises in conveyancing. The SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) regulates solicitors.
A licenced conveyancer trains only in conveyancing. The Council for Licenced Conveyancers regulates their work.
Is a conveyancing solicitor or conveyancer better?
Generally speaking, there is no right answer. However, there are a few key differences between a conveyancing solicitor and conveyancer that may impact your decision:
Solicitors cannot have a conflict of interest. This means they are not able to act for both the buyer and seller because this would constitute a conflict of interest. They also undergo rigorous legal training.
By contrast, conveyancers could technically act for both parties within the transaction.. A conveyancing solicitor is a qualified lawyer that has chosen to specialise in conveyancing. This means that if you run into legal issues that are related to the purchase of a property, your solicitor will be well-equipped to advise you.
360 Law Services Conveyancing
Conveyancing can sound like an intimidating and long-winded process. Whilst it does involve a number of stages, searches, and processes, instructing a highly-qualified solicitor to take care of it for you will instantly relieve you of the stress.
All our specialist conveyancing solicitors have more than 5 years of post-qualification experience and are dedicated to making the purchase of your home as smooth as possible.
Contact us to find out more about our services.