Conveyancing is the legal work involved in transferring ownership of a property or land, usually carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer.
While a property inspection will identify any potential structural problems, it will not uncover issues that may impact on the property and the land on which it is built. It is for these reasons that a professional conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer is needed.
Matters such as leaseholds, restrictions of usage, access to services such as water and electricity, rights of way and ground rents might affect the house, its purchase or sale and your ability to successfully complete the transaction.
Your conveyancing solicitor will take responsibility for checking these in order to ensure you are aware of all the issues affecting the property before making a commitment to buy or sell. Your solicitor will also draw up the necessary documentation for transferring a property’s legal title from one party to another.
Typical Conveyancer duties include:
Checking the legal title documentation (e.g. the contract and Land Registry information) and raising enquiries to clarify any info provided in the contract pack
Conducting searches with various authorities to determine whether there are flood risks, financial liabilities, boundary disputes, prospective building developments.
Providing the client buyer with a detailed report on the legal title, contract and supporting documents provided by the seller
Submit a tax return and pay the required Stamp Duty Land Tax to HM Revenue & Customs.
Drawing up draft contracts detailing what is included in the transaction, such as fixtures, fittings and contents
Forward documentation regarding the transfer of ownership to the Land Registry.
Advising on additional costs such as stamp duty, leasehold notice fees, land registry fees and other obligatory expenditure
Request payment of the mortgage advance from your lender.
Liaising with mortgage lenders to ensure the funds will be made available when necessary
Producing the transfer documents required for the purchase or sale of a house to go through
Conducting all final checks prior to the exchange of contracts, after which neither party can pull out without incurring serious costs
Exchanging contracts, bringing completion day one step closer
Liaise with the seller’s solicitor to receive a contract pack
Arranging for the transfer to be filed with the land registry
Request and obtain a copy of your mortgage offer.
Organising the payment of all related fees.
You should appoint a solicitor/conveyancer as soon as you consider selling or buying a property – even before you have made an offer on a house (or somebody has made you an offer) – as this can help to speed up the process by bringing them on board early.
If you are buying a house, you can expect exchange of contracts to take place within 6-8 weeks of receipt of the contract pack. However, be aware that if you are in a long chain of transactions, delays across the chain will have an impact on your own completion. Each home is individual and the conveyancing process reflects this.
How much will it cost?
The cost of conveyancing services depends on the value of the property you are buying – even though there is not necessarily any more legal work involved in buying a £2.5 million house than there is with a £150,000 flat.
However, the conveyancing required for the average property purchase in the UK generally costs around £800-£1000.
This amount includes the charges for the conveyancer’s time, calls and letters, as well as the fees for the council searches and registration with the Land Registry.
You may be able to save money by opting for an online conveyancer, some of which only charge as little as £500.
DIY-conveyancing is possible. However, it is a complicated and time-consuming business that could end badly.