Buying or selling a house is an exciting time. If you're a first time buyer you will probably have heard of conveyancing, but might not know what it is. This guide will explain the conveyancing process with a step by step guide of what to expect when you're moving home.
Put simply, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of a property from one person to another; it encompasses all of the legal and administrative processes that come with buying or selling a property.
The conveyancing process begins when an offer is accepted and finishes when you move. You can do your own conveyancing, but it can be a complicated process and costly if it goes wrong, so it is a process best left to a professional – after all moving house is stressful enough!
Choosing a reputable and experienced conveyancer is important to ensure a smooth transaction. Whether you're buying or selling it is a good idea to have a conveyancer and fixed price quote in place so you can instruct them as soon as an offer has been accepted.
Once you've made or received an offer on a property you will want to get the process moving as quickly as possible. The average conveyancing process usually takes six to eight weeks.
Below are the steps of conveyancing to give you an understanding of what's involved to make sure the biggest purchase you will make is done correctly.
Once an offer has been accepted, both sides will contact their conveyancer to 'instruct' them. Your conveyancer will contact the other party's conveyancer to go over the draft contract and address any queries about the property (the pre-contract enquiries).
A draft contract will be drawn up which contains information from the property's title deeds, the buyer and seller details and how much the buyer is paying for the property.
The buyer will arrange for a survey to be completed and finalise the mortgage with their lender.
Searches will be carried out by the conveyancer on behalf of the buyer. Searches are important as they contain information about the property to ensure there are no nasty surprises.
Conveyancing searches include:
For more information on property searches see our 'What are Conveyancing Searches?' guide.
Once all searches and surveys have been completed your conveyancer will ensure all enquires have been resolved and check the property's fixtures and fittings are as expected (the seller will be asked to complete a form with a list of items that will be remaining or removed from the property. This list, once agreed by all parties, forms part of the contract)
This is the part of the process, along with waiting for the search results, that can take a while to complete, depending on how many enquires there are and how long the seller takes to respond. Your conveyancer will work with their counterpart to keep things moving. While it can be frustrating, it is important to get everything right.
Once all enquires are resolved a completion date will be arranged, the buyer will transfer their deposit to their conveyancer and they will arrange transfer of funds from the mortgage lender.
The final step is exchanging contracts, with both conveyancers reading out the contract over the telephone to ensure they are identical and then sending them to each other.
Once exchanged the contract is legally binding.
Completion is usually set for midday on the specified date. When the seller's conveyancer confirms that all monies due have been received the seller will drop off the keys at the estate agent for the buyer to collect.
After the completion your conveyancer will complete the following to tie up loose ends: