When you buy or sell a property in the UK, you’ll need to engage the services of a residential conveyancer. That sounds straightforward, but many people aren’t familiar with the process, and it can feel daunting – especially for first-time buyers.
So, what exactly is conveyancing, and what does it involve? In this blog post, we’ll give you a basic overview of the conveyancing process, to help you feel more comfortable and confident with this big moment in your life.
What is residential conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another. The term can also refer to the transfer of other types of interests in land, such as leases. In most cases, buyers and sellers will engage the services of a conveyancer or solicitor to handle the conveyancing process on their behalf.
The main role of the conveyancer is to prepare and review all the documentation related to the sale or purchase, including the contract of sale, mortgage documents, and transfer documents. In addition to liaising with the solicitor for the other party, your solicitor may also deal with banks, estate agents, and government agencies.
What important decisions do you need to make?
Buying a home and moving is one of the most stressful life decisions you will make, so when you decide to buy a house, there are some important questions you need to ask yourself first:
- What down payment and monthly mortgage payment can you afford?
- What type of home are you looking for and will it be future-proof?
- What property will be the best investment for yourself and your family?
- What renovation or repair work are you prepared to do and at what cost?
- Are you fully committed to buying a property and what is involved in the process?
- What are the Stamp Duty implications and do you have enough funds to cover this payment?
- How would you like to share the Property if you are buying with one or more parties?
What is the next step?
Before you even start your search, you need to make sure your financial affairs are in order, e.g., do you have your identity documents, can you access your bank statements, do you have your payslips, have you shopped around for mortgage deals, etc. Once you have confirmed your budget, and you are fully committed to buying a new home, you can begin the search.
Once you have found a property, you will need to make an offer. If the offer is accepted, the process will begin. Your next step will be to choose a solicitor’s firm to do the conveyancing on the property. Finding the right firm will depend on several factors, but mainly their availability and their fees. Make no mistake, choosing the right conveyancer can mean the difference between a slow transaction and an efficient one. The slower the process the more it will cost you in the long term.
First-time buyers will want to make sure that they feel comfortable talking to their chosen solicitor and asking them to explain the process if they’re ever unsure. Your estate agent may be able to recommend some local firms or check out reviews online – they are generally written by people who have gone through the process, which can give you some insight into how well their transaction went. You want to find a firm that first and foremost has a good reputation and can, and will, act in your best interests.
What is the step-by-step process?
Your solicitor should explain this all the way through, but it can be helpful to have an overview of the process ahead of time. Whilst this is happening, you’ll also need to sort out a mortgage (unless you’re a cash buyer) and arrange for utilities at your new property.
- The first step is for you to make an offer on a property, and then instruct a solicitor. The estate agent will then ask for their details and send them the memorandum of sale, which confirms that your offer is accepted.
- Once they have this, your conveyancer can kick off the process to carry out searches with various local and national authorities. This is done to find out if there are any issues that could affect the property or your enjoyment of it (e.g., planning permission issues, upcoming developments that could affect views or access, or flood risk).
- You’ll need to decide whether you’d like a survey done, and arrange this yourself. If you do, your solicitor will need to review the results of the searches and raise any enquiries.
- During this process, it is worth revisiting the property yourself to conduct a checklist of what repair or maintenance work the property will require. If you notice any significant issues, it is worth raising this immediately with your surveyor and your conveyancer.
- Once searches and surveys have been carried out and any concerns have been resolved, your conveyancer will then begin preparing contract documents for you to sign.
When both parties are satisfied and have signed the contract, your solicitor will exchange – this means that you become legally committed to the sale and you must then transfer the deposit. It’s important that you are sure about everything before you sign – if you pull out after this stage it will land you with solicitor’s fees and a financial penalty.
Once everything has been finalised, your conveyancer will arrange for completion (i.e., transfer of funds, registration of ownership and payment of additional costs) to take place. On this date, keys will be handed over and you can finally move into your new home!
Engaging the services of a qualified professional that you trust is important. A conveyancer is there to guide you through every step of the process and make sure it goes as smoothly as possible. So, if you are planning on buying a property in the UK and you need some guidance or advice, then get in contact with us.