Conveyancing is a number of legal and administrative steps needed to transfer a property from one person to another.
No one enjoys paperwork; especially when you’re eager to get on and move into your new home. But it’s worth remembering that the conveyancing process exists to protect you. It helps ensure you’re getting everything you expected from the deal – and nothing you didn’t.
To help you understand what happens, here’s a closer look at conveyancing, and why the process is so important.
Do I need a conveyancer when buying or selling a home?
A conveyancer is a person who acts on your behalf throughout the process. It’s either a solicitor or an accredited specialist known as a licenced conveyancer.
So, can you bypass the conveyancer and deal with it all yourself? While in theory, it’s possible to do it yourself, it’s far wiser to have professional acting for you. Also, if you are buying a property and taking out a mortgage, the lender will insist you use one.
Your conveyancer is important as they handle any issues with the contract or the searches relating to the property. They arm you with knowledge, so you can make informed decisions on whether to go ahead with the deal or to renegotiate the price. They will also handle communications with the other party’s representatives, making sure everything that needs to be carried out is done on time.
It can save you a great deal of time and stress, as well as preventing potentially costly mistakes.
What will a conveyancer do?
Here’s a rundown of what a buyer’s and seller’s conveyancer does at key stages of the process. For a more detailed understanding of the conveyancing process, you can see our step by step guide.
When you are buying a property
As a buyer, once your offer has been accepted, this is the time to formally apply for your mortgage and instruct your conveyancer.
Soon after, your conveyancer should receive the contract pack from the seller. This includes:
- The contract for the sale
- Documents from the Land Registry relating to ‘title’ (legal ownership)
- Property Information form and Fixtures, Fittings & Contents form
- Any relevant certificates and guarantees (e.g. on building work)
From kitchen fittings right through to rear access and neighbour disputes, the contract pack covers a lot of information. Your conveyancer will go through it with you and make sure you understand everything, flagging any potential issues. Where needed, they will also go back to the seller for clarification.
If you are buying with a mortgage, your conveyancer will also confirm to the lender that the property complies with the lender’s requirements.
The ‘searches’ refer to information reports about the property various authorities and are important to avoid any unwanted surprises later.
The most common ones are Local Authority and Drainage & Water. Taken together, these searches provide vital information on matters such as planning permission, up-and-coming traffic schemes and sewage connections. Depending on property location, other enquiries such as flooding and mining searches may also be necessary.
Your conveyancer carries out the searches and explains the results to you. Armed with this knowledge, you can make sure you still want to go ahead with the purchase.
For many clients, a search indemnity can be a better option than the full searches since they are much quicker to obtain and the insurance will cover the buyer in the unlikely event that a search issue arises at a later date.
Exchange and completion steps
When you are happy to proceed, and once both parties have agreed on a completion date, contracts are “exchanged”, which means you are legally committed to the purchase.
From then up until the time of completion (when the seller vacates the property so you can move in), there are some important formalities for your conveyancer to cover. This includes some final checks with the Land Registry and making sure the funds from your lender are in place.
The conveyancer ensures that this all happens when it should. After successful completion, they check that the change of ownership is properly registered with the Land Registry.
When you are selling a property
As a seller, your conveyancer will make sure that the information in the ‘contract pack’ is all present and correct.
This includes title deeds, existing mortgage details, guarantees, gas safety certificates and building regulations certificates.
Although you complete the Property Information and Fixtures, Fittings & Contents form yourself, it’s useful to be able to call on your conveyancer for help with these where necessary.
Your conveyancer also prepares the actual contract, then all of this information is sent off to the buyer. They will deal with any queries from the other side.
Exchange of contracts
You may find that the buyer wants to renegotiate the price based on enquiries, search and survey results. Your estate agent will usually negotiate all of this for you, including the potential to and fro over the fittings to be included or the exact completion date — making sure you are happy with what’s agreed.
For managing the receipt of funds, paying off any existing mortgage, seeing to the transfer and title deeds – as well as managing key handover, your conveyancer ensures everything is in place at the right time.
How long does conveyancing take?
The conveyancing process usually takes between 8 and 12 weeks from when an offer is accepted. However, timing depends on the complexity of the transaction. For example, if the property is a leasehold or if there’s a property chain involved (e.g. if your ability to buy a new home is dependent on the sale going through on your existing property), this can prolong matters.
If your conveyancer is quick to respond to queries and is proactive in moving things along, it goes a long way in reducing delays.
How much are conveyancing fees?
Conveyancing fees are typical £600 – £1,500 including VAT at 20%. On top of this are disbursements; i.e. the expenses your conveyancer pays on your behalfs, such as searches and Land Registry fees. For purchase, in those instances where Stamp Duty is not payable, disbursements are typically in the region of £125 – £200.
A larger bill does necessarily mean a better service. At Muve, we put digital technology to work, offering services such as an online portal so you always know what’s happening, along with online ID checks to cut down on unnecessary paperwork. This combined with our highly efficient in-house lawyers help to keep your transaction moving, while also keeping fees low.
For more in-depth information about the conveyancing process and to learn more whether you are a buyer or seller of the property, be sure to explore our information hub. If you have any further questions then contact us.