What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing refers to all the legal and administrative work that needs to be done when you buy a property. It begins after you’ve accepted an offer, and usually takes about six-eight weeks.

To begin, you will need to instruct a conveyancer to do this for you. You can do it yourself, but it can be very time consuming and risky if you get anything wrong. Estate agents can usually recommend a conveyancer for you to use, or you can use an online conveyancer. Once you’ve instructed a conveyancer, the process can begin.

The process

Terms of Engagement
First of all, the conveyancer will draw up a contract (normally called a “terms of engagement”) with you, outlining their fees. They will also get in touch with the seller’s solicitor for a draft contract, and to confirm their instruction. You also need to go through these forms and let the solicitor know if you have any queries.

Legal Searches
The conveyancer will then go through a number of legal searches to ensure there’s nothing else you may have missed. This includes factors such as the title register, local authority searches (e.g any planning works nearby that might affect you), and flood risks.

Mortgage
You will then need to get your mortgage set up. The first step for this is to get a mortgage valuation, which is carried out on behalf of the mortgage company so they know the property provides enough security for the loan. This is normally an additional cost, but some mortgage companies will include it in their contract for free.

Surveys
Any other necessary surveys are then carried out – these depend on your specific circumstances. You can find out what sort of surveys you should have done here.

Building Insurance
You’ll then need to get Building Insurance. Once the contracts are signed, the property is your responsibility so it’s crucial to make sure you’re covered.

Signing the contracts
Before you sign the contract, your solicitor will make sure that all enquiries have been returned and are satisfactory, that the house is up to scratch, that a completion date has been agreed (usually 1-4 weeks after exchanging), and that you’ve made arrangements for paying the deposit. You’ll need to transfer this into your solicitor’s account, and in time so that it clears before exchange.

Exchanging contracts
A date will be agreed on with the vendor as to when you exchange the contracts. The conveyancers will read the contracts out over the phone to make sure the contracts are the same, and then immediately send them out by post. This conversation will be recorded. Once you’ve exchanged, you are legally obliged to buy the property, and the seller cannot accept another invitation. If you do not, you will lose your deposit. If the seller does not sell, you are permitted to sue them.

Completion
Once the seller’s solicitor has confirmed the receipt of money, a date will be set for completion. The seller should then leave the keys at the estate agents for you to pick up – you’re then ready to move in!

To find out more about the process, get in touch with a member of our team.