How Does Conveyancing Actually Work?

In our last blog we looked at why you need a conveyancing solicitor to help you through the various processes of your move. This week, Rachel Inwood, Conveyancing Solicitor at Harold Stock & Co, goes into a little more detail about the process of buying a home and what you can expect from your conveyancing solicitor at each stage of your purchase.

Stage 1 – Your offer has been accepted

After your offer is accepted, the estate agent will send your solicitor information about you (the buyer), the seller, the price and the address of the property.

The quicker we get this information, the quicker we can start the process.

Stage 2 – Getting the right documents

Your solicitor will start by requesting the contract, title documents and other forms detailing  the estate, including all of the contents inside the property and which of these will be staying within it.

It might not be the most exciting of reads, but the forms tell you what works have taken place at the property, and if the white goods are included or if you need to pay extra  along with any other fittings & contents .

Stage 3 – Searches and Surveys

It’s important that a property surveyor evaluates your new home’s structure, and checks to see if there are likely to be any expensive repairs. In addition, your solicitor will obtain searches on your behalf. If you are buying with a mortgage, you must have these searches. The searches reveal:

  • Previous coal mining activity
  • Restrictions
  • Planning permission
  • Radon gas
  • Environmental search
  • Flood report

The searches also reveal more about the area around the property. Searches are crucial for making sure you don’t end up with unknown, or unwanted issues.

All of the searches take different amounts of time to complete. Local searches can take a week or up to 10 days (as long as everything goes well) whilst some other searches that can be almost immediate. These searches will usually then be sent back to your solicitor for consideration.

Stage 4 – Reading through the contracts

Your conveyancing solicitor will receive the contract pack from your seller’s conveyancing solicitor. They will then read through the documents with a fine tooth comb and will make sure everything is right for you.

Because the contract is a legal document, it is important that this is done by a professional. Undertaking all the paperwork and legal transactions yourself can be risky. If you haven’t studied the area of property law, you could find yourself in a tricky situation when dealing with contracts.

If anything does crop up that we are concerned with, we can query this officially and get the right result for you. You don’t end up agreeing to something that isn’t 100% right for you.

Stage 5 – The Mortgage Offer

Your structural survey will give you vital information about whether your building is safe, or whether it needs substantial repairs. This will tell you if it is financially  worth buying.

After seeing a building report, you may want to change your offer, especially if it uncovers some problems.

Your conveyancing solicitor will check through the mortgage offer to make sure that the price is correct and all the conditions of the mortgage are as expected. You will then receive a letter explaining the mortgage offer in detail in terms of:-

  • How much in total you are borrowing
  • Interest rates
  • Terms and conditions

The quicker this mortgage application is approved, the quicker your solicitor can finish the legal processes involved in buying the property.

Stage 6 – Checking and signing the documents  

Once all the searches have been completed, and all questions have been answered between the solicitors, it’s time to check the full documentation and sign them.  You will need to sign:

  • Contract
  • Mortgage deed
  • Transfer deed

If you are unsure about anything, your solicitors will help you all the way through.

Stage 7 – Dealing with the Chain

This can be one of the most frustrating parts of buying a house. Most often, to move in to your new home, the people living in there may need to wait for the people in the house they want to buy to move out, and so on and so on.

A chain like this can have many, many links. If any one of the people in your chain drop out of their purchase, which is quite possible for any number of reasons, then that can stop your transaction.

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that can be done, other than making sure your seller has everything in place from you. Just be aware that being in a property chain can potentially slow down the move into your new home.

Stage 8 – Exchange of Contracts

Once you and your seller have everything in place, and the chain is moving along nicely, you can arrange a date to exchange contracts. It doesn’t matter when you do it, but if you want to move in to your new home, the sooner the better.

Your conveyancing solicitor will exchange your contracts. They usually read out the contracts between them via a phone call to make sure everything is correct.

In some cases, it may be possible co complete on the same day, such as when you have a cash purchase. Mortgage lenders will be happy for you to exchange and complete on the same day, but the request for money to be released can take up to 5 working days. It is therefore important to set a completion date a least a week in advance when purchasing with a mortgage.

Setting a completion date in advance will also help you when arranging a removal company and packing.

Stage 9 – Completion

Now contracts have been exchanged, you just have to wait for the completion date in order to move in.

Completion normally happens around about 2pm on a set date. Once the seller’s solicitor has confirmed that they have received the money, you are good to go.

After Completion

Once you have completed, your solicitor will deal with the stamp duty payments on your behalf. The stamp duty will be included on your bill before completion.

Your solicitor will also deal with registering the property at HM Land Registry so that you are officially the owner.

If you are buying with a mortgage, your lender requires a copy of the title following registration. Again, your solicitor will sort this out. The lender no longer needs the original title documents so these will be sent to you once the property has been registered in your name.

Registration can take up to 4 weeks following completion.

Keep your own records too

It’s important that you keep every single one of your documents for your house move together and securely stored away. You will need them if and when you move again.

Moving house, make sure you use a professional

The whole process of moving home can be a very confusing process to get your head around. We always recommend employing a professional conveyancing solicitor as early in the process as you can. For more information about moving home, or to help support your move, contact us at Harold Stock & Co.

Rachel Inwood
Conveyancing Solicitor
Harold Stock & Co

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