Conveyancing describes the legal transfer for property from one person to another. If you are using a mortgage to buy your home then the lender will require you to have a professional to conduct your conveyancing. If you are a cash buyer, then you can carry out all of the tasks yourself. However, it is really recommended that you still have a professional to work on your behalf to make sure that the I’s are dotted and the T’s are crossed – this is not an area you can afford to make mistakes in!
Instructing a conveyancing solicitor near me
A solicitor or specialist property conveyancing solicitors takes the responsibility of all of the legal issues surrounding property sales. They should keep you up to date with everything that is happening and give you a rough timescale that they are working to. With this such an important aspect of your sale house purchase to get right, where do you start looking for a conveyancer?
How do I find a conveyancer or a solicitor for legal services?
Choosing a conveyancing services firm
Conveyancing fees shouldn’t always be the main aspect of what you are looking for. A solicitor that is on your side and knows the local area well will save you time, pain and money in the long run.
• Find a conveyancer by word of mouth recommendation – have any of your friends or family moved recently that would recommend a conveyancing solicitor?
• Your mortgage broker or lender may be able to help you find the best solicitor/conveyancers. It is worth an ask to see if they have a list of conveyancing solicitor companies or individuals that they recommend
• Estate agents sometimes work in partnerships with solicitors. This is generally seen as being an expensive option as the estate agent will probably be commission based, but there is no harm in asking!
• As with all of life at the moment, conveyancing is another area that is moving to online conveyancing. You will be able to contact your conveyancing solicitor via phone or email and even WhatsApp these days. Sometimes the only issue here is that you sometimes you will not have just one dedicated person working on your case. Sometimes nothing beats a local solicitor that is more suitable for intricate estate sales or tricky local legal issues.
• Top Licensed Conveyancers tip: Conveyancers must be members of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. Property specialist solicitors should be a member of the Law Society of England and Wales and a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. The should also be apart of the solicitors regulation authority.
What does a conveyancer/conveyancing solicitor do for you?
• The first thing your conveyancing firm of solicitors should do is to provide you with a contract (terms of engagement) and set out clearly their fees and any deposits they require from you and the process.
• Your conveyancer or solicitor will write to the other party’s solicitor to confirm that you have instructed them to act for you in your sale and to request all the details and forms from them.
The Legal bit- Conveyancing solicitor legal advice
Your solicitor or conveyancer will look at all of the information, including contracts and supporting documents, that the other party’s solicitor/conveyancers have sent. You will be required to read these documents and inform your solicitor if you find that you have any queries or issues with their content. Make sure that you are confident with major issues such as whether the property is freehold or leasehold as there is, generally, nothing that can be done about this. Solicitors are not responsible for checking the length of the lease in a leasehold property. Leasehold properties need to be considered carefully as their length may cause some mortgage lenders to withdraw a mortgage offer.
Property searches process
Some issues relating to the property that you would never know, regardless of how many times you viewed the property or read the marketing details. Your conveyancer will conduct legal searches on the building to find any issues that you may need to be made aware of. These issues may affect the value of the home or your quality of life while living in the property.
• Local authority searches: This is to find the right to any potential plans for such things as a motorway or new roads running very close to the property or even, in extremely rare cases, being planned to run through the garden! There is almost no limit to the issues that may arise from these searches. They cost between £70 and £400 depending on the Local Authority and usually takes 1-2 weeks, but can take up to 6 weeks
• Checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry. These are legal documents that prove the ownership of the property. The title register check costs £3 and the title plan check costs £3. Both are legal requirements when it comes to selling a property.
• Flood risk can be done at the Land Registry. Some mortgage lenders will require an Environmental Search based on the area of the building or any property history that comes to light. If an Environmental Search is being carried out, you might not buy this one separately as the environmental search will contain much more thorough flood information and maps. – www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk
• Environmental Searches. This is a report that is required in the majority of the property transaction. Either Landmark or Groundsure conducts this search. This report generally gives information about contaminated land at or around the property, landfill sites, former and current industry, detailed flooding predictions, radon gas hazard, ground stability issues, and some other related information.
• Water authority searches give you information such as how you get your water and where wastewater going. Sometimes there are public drains running under the garden or the property. They might affect any extensions or building works that you may want to carry out in the future and affect future sales of the property. The water authority search will cost between £50 and £75.
• Chancel repair search. – A seemingly mystical search that is still required to be carried. This search will tell you whether you are liable to pay for church repairs in your area. This is a necessity and costs £18. However, you may decide to take out Chancel repair insurance instead for £20. The laws around Chancel repair changed in October 2013. Now the Church is required to establish and lodge liability with the Land Registry.
Your mortgage and your conveyancing solicitors
You will need to get your mortgage in place as soon as you can and forward all of the details to your solicitor. Your solicitor/conveyancer will receive a copy of your mortgage offer and will ensure you the property is meeting any conditions that are stipulated in the lending agreement. Get the best mortgage rates from a free mortgage broker.
The mortgage valuation is carried out on behalf of your lender to ensure that the property is providing enough security for the loan. There is a cost involved, but the mortgage company will regularly include it within your mortgage or offer it as part of your package.
Your mortgage lender will require you to have buildings insurance on the property. As soon as contracts are exchanged you are responsible for the building, so it is important insurance to have in place.
Signing the contract
To reach this stage, your solicitor or conveyancer will need to confirm that:
• all enquiries have been returned and are acceptable to all concerned
• any fixtures and fittings included in the purchase are what you expected
• the completion date will have been formally agreed when the contracts have been signed. This is generally 4 to 12 weeks after the exchange of contracts
• arrangements have been made to transfer the deposit into your solicitor’s account so that it can be seen to have cleared in time for your exchange of contracts. The size of this deposit is, in theory, negotiable, but is generally accepted to be 10% of the sale price of the property.
Exchange of contracts – what happens?
There is no set time and day to exchange contracts, this is an agreement reached by the purchaser and the seller. The actual exchanging of contracts is a formality that your solicitor will carry out for you. This is usually done by both solicitors or conveyancers being in a recorded phone call and reading out the contracts to make sure that they are identical. The solicitor or conveyancer will then immediately send the contracts to one another in the post. In the case of a chain sale, your solicitor/conveyancer will do the same thing, but will only send the contract if all of the other people in the chain are all happy to go finalise. If one person pulls out or delays a sale, then everyone in the chain gets held up. Once contracts have been exchanged, you are in a legally binding contract to buy the property and will have with a fixed date for moving. If you now do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit. Your seller is now legally required to sell the property to you and they can no longer accept another offer on the property.
What happens between exchange and completion?
• Your solicitor lodges an interest in the property purchase which means that the deeds to the property are frozen for 30 working days to allow you to pay the seller and lodge your application to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds into your name.
• The seller will move out, generally on the day of completion
• Your solicitor will send you a statement showing the final figure to pay. This then needs to be cleared into your solicitor’s bank account at least one day before completion.
When you as a home buyer can finally get your keys the estate agent for your new home! Completion is traditionally at midday on the agreed date. In practice, however, completion takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money that is due. The seller will then pass the keys to the property to the estate agents and then they are yours!
Things to tie up after completion
• Stamp duty is paid. Generally, your conveyancer/solicitor will pay this on your behalf.
• In around 20 days you will receive all of your legal documents from the Land Registry
• You (or your solicitor/conveyancer) will send a copy of the property title deeds to your lender who will then hold them until the mortgage has been paid in full.
• Your conveyancing solicitor will notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold
• The solicitor will issue their final bill for you to pay.
You’ve done it! You have bought/sold your home!
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