If you are unfamiliar with the conveyancing process it can seem complicated and problematic. Here at Howells our specialist coneyancing solicitors use their vast experience to make even the most problematic conveyance simple and transparent.
The following is an outline of our conveyancing process when buying property, to give you a clear idea of the service you will receive. We keep it simple, honest and transparent here at Howells, ensuring you are kept in the loop at every stage of the process.
The Initial Stages
Once you have informed the solicitor you wish to use their service you will receive a ‘Letter of Engagement’ or ‘Confirmation of Terms of Business’. This should be promptly signed and returned so the conveyancing process can begin in earnest. Funds will be requested to cover initial expenditure such as the cost of the searches.
Your solicitor will write to the seller’s solicitor confirming their instruction and requesting 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.
From the outset of the buyer’ s conveyancing process, it is essential the solicitor knows whether you also wish to sell a property so the two transactions can be tied together.
You should inform your estate agent which solicitor you intend to use so they can send a ‘Memorandum of Sale’ to all the relevant parties together with a copy of the property particulars.
When buying residential property many people do so in joint names. The joint ownership decision is an important one. There are two ways you can jointly own a property:
Joint tenants – where both parties have an equal interest in the property. If one party dies the survivor automatically owns the property.
Tenants in common – you each own a specific share of the property. This can be bequeathed, by will, in the event of your death.
Conveyancing Process Prior to Contracting to Buy
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 the seller has completed and let the solicitor know if the conveyancing process is as you expected.
If the property 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 the relevant landlord, managing agents or residential association.
Mortgages and the Conveyancing Process
If you are taking out a mortgage your solicitor will receive a copy of the offer and work through the conditions.
The solicitor dealing with your conveyancing process will normally undertake legal work on behalf of your lender as well.
Exchange of Contracts
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 in 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.
Before exchange of contracts can take place your lender (if you have one) will require you to have a buildings insurance policy in place.
All the parties involved in the conveyancing process need to agree on a completion date.
From the point at which contracts are exchanged you are legally bound to buy. The seller is legally bound to sell. Should either party back out the other will be entitled to claim compensation for losses arising.
At the point contracts are exchanged solicitor handling the conveyancing process will send your deposit to the seller's solicitor. This acts as security for the seller in case you change your mind, or are unable to pay the balance and complete the purchase. In that case, the seller can hang onto your deposit, and may take you to court if the deposit is not enough compensation for breaking the contract. In the same way, if the seller exchanges contracts and then refuses to complete the sale, you can apply to the court for an order to force the seller to complete, or be reimbursed your deposit and sue the seller for compensation. It is rare for a sale not to complete once contracts have been exchanged within the conveyancing process.
Between Exchange and Completion
Your solicitor will draw up the transfer deed so the property can be registered in your name as quickly as possible after completion of the conveyancing process. Your solicitor will also carry out further searches of a technical nature.
During this period you should receive a statement from your solicitor showing your expenses and the final figure which needs to be cleared in the solicitor’s account before completion of the conveyancing process. If you are taking out a mortgage your solicitor will draw down the loan amount in time for completion.
Completion is normally set for around lunchtime on the specified day, although in practical terms completion takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms they have received all the money due. When receipt of the funds is acknowledged the seller should drop the keys off to the estate agent ready for you to collect.
Your solicitor will arrange for the title deeds to be registered in your name, and if the property is leasehold, ensure your name is entered on to the lease. The transfer will also be stamped to officially approve the sale.
And the final stage of the buyer’s conveyancing process, 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.
If you are looking to buy residential property, then our dedicated team of conveyancing solicitors are perfectly positioned to help. The experience and knowledge of our expert solicitors ensures your conveyancing process when buying property runs smoothly.
Call 0808 178 2773 today or fill in our online enquiry form and we will be in contact.