Conveyancing is the legal process involved with buying and selling tangible property, such as residential real estate or land. It involves a number of different aspects, including:
- Working with multiple liaisons – solicitors for respective parties to the transaction, real estate agents, surveyors, mortgage lenders and banks, sometimes leasehold managing agents and freehold landlords
- Legal title investigation of the property, to ensure that the seller has the right to sell it, or even whether the property is unregistered
- Advising the purchaser on the rights and obligations associated with the property, such as easements (right to pass across land belonging to someone else), drainage and water supply, who maintains the boundaries etc.
- Obtaining and considering searches from the local authority, water companies, and environmental consultants
- Enquiry handling from the other party’s solicitors
- Ensuring that all the legal documentation is properly drawn up
- Making sure that the right amount is paid to the right parties, and any mortgages are redeemed
- Registering the transaction with HM Land Registry after it has completed
For a little more detail into the process, this article dives into the step by step items involved.
Step by Step explained:
Conveyancing Process for Selling a Property
- Seller’s conveyancer is instructed to begin the process.
- Seller’s conveyancer confirms instructions by letter, setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs.
- Seller’s conveyancer carries out proof of identity checks and sends out a “fittings and contents” form, and property information form(s) for completion. If the property is considered leasehold, additional information will be required.
- Seller to complete “fittings and contents” form and property information form(s).
- Seller’s conveyancer obtains title deeds from deeds holder, or official copies of the title register and any other documents required by The Land Registry, and details of the amount outstanding on any existing mortgage.
- Seller’s conveyancer prepares the draft contract and supporting contract documentation and sends to the buyer’s conveyancer.Buyer’s conveyancer checks the contract, and supports contract documentation, and raises pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer.
- Seller’s conveyancer and seller answer pre-contract enquiries.
- Buyer’s conveyancer confirms they have acceptable results from their searches, are happy with the answers to pre-contract enquiries and are in receipt of a mortgage offer (if any).
- Seller and buyer agree on a completion date, and contracts are formally “exchanged” - meaning both parties are legally committed to the transaction. Seller’s conveyancer will obtain a settlement figure to repay the outstanding amount on any existing mortgage, if applicable. Buyer’s conveyancer drafts a transfer deed and sends to the Seller’s conveyancer.
- Seller’s conveyancer checks the transfer deed and sends it to the seller for signature in readiness for completion.
- On completion the seller must vacate the property at a time to be agreed and make arrangements to hand over the keys, usually through the estate agent. Buyer’s conveyancer will send the proceeds of sale to the seller’s conveyancer, and the seller’s conveyancer will arrange for the keys to be released to the buyer.
- The seller’s conveyancer sends the title deeds and transfer deeds to the buyer’s conveyancer together with an undertaking to use the proceeds of sale to discharge any existing mortgage. The seller’s conveyancer then pays the estate agent (if one was used), repays the amount owing to the existing mortgage lender (if applicable) and takes payment for their conveyancing service costs.
- Once all the payments have been made all the remaining money from the sale will be transferred to the seller, usually by bank transfer on the day of completion.
Conveyancing Process for Buying a Property
- Buyer makes an offer on the property, which is accepted by the seller.
- Buyer’s conveyancer being informed about offer acceptance.
- Buyer arranges a survey of the property, and makes an application for a mortgage (if required).
- Buyer’s conveyancer confirms instructions by letter, setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs.
- Buyer’s conveyancer contacts the seller’s conveyancer to obtain the contract pack.
- Buyers conveyancer checks the contract pack, raises pre-contract enquiries, carries out the necessary searches and obtains a copy of the mortgage offer.
- Seller’s conveyancer and seller answer pre-contract enquiries and return these to the buyer's conveyancer.
- Buyer’s conveyancer reviews and reports to the buyer on the contents of the contract pack, pre-contract enquiries, the result of the searches and mortgage offer. The buyer then considers this report and raises questions on anything that is unclear.
- When the buyer is happy to proceed, arrangements are made for the deposit to be paid to the buyer’s conveyancer in preparation for the exchange contract exchange.
- Seller and buyer agree on a completion date and contracts are formally “exchanged” - meaning both parties are legally committed to the transaction.
- Buyer’s conveyancer prepares a draft transfer deed and completion information form and sends these to the seller’s conveyancer for completion.
- Seller’s solicitor approves the draft transfer deed and a final copy is made. This may need to be signed by the buyer before being sent to the seller’s solicitor for signature by the seller in readiness for completion.
- Buyer’s conveyancer prepares a completion statement, carries out pre-completion searches and applies for a mortgage loan if needed.
- On completion, the seller vacates the property by the agreed time and buyer’s conveyancer sends the proceeds of sale to the seller’s conveyancer.
- Seller’s conveyancer releases the keys to the estate agent (if one was used) and sends the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer’s conveyancer, together with an undertaking to repay any existing mortgage.
- Buyer’s conveyancer sends the stamp duty payable to HMRC, receives the title deeds, transfer deed along with proof that the seller has paid the outstanding mortgage on the property.
- Buyer’s conveyancer registers the property in the name of the buyer at The Land Registry.
- The buyer receives a copy of the registered title from The Land Registry. Any documents required by the mortgage lender to be retained by them are sent on by the Buyer’s solicitor.