An overview of the Conveyancing process

So what happens once you have had an offer accepted on a property and you have your mortgage in principle lined up? The next step is that you need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor to deal with the legal process. The average conveyancing transaction should take between 4 – 6 weeks, but it all depends on how complex the legal title for the property is and if there are any issues which need to be resolved.

Once you have chosen and instructed a solicitor, you will need to provide your solicitor with your identification documents and pay some monies on account to cover the cost of searches. Also, your solicitor will ask you where the monies for the purchase are coming from. This is known as “evidence of source of funds” and the sooner you can provide this information the better to ensure that this does not delay matters further down the line. It is very common for people to get some or all of their deposit monies by way of a gift from a family member. While this is not usually a problem, please be prepared for your solicitor to ask you for identification documents and bank statements from the person who is giving you the gift, as well as asking the family member to sign a letter confirming that the monies are a gift and they aren’t expecting the money to be repaid in the future.

There are three main elements to a conveyancing transaction: title, searches and mortgage. Your solicitor will check through the title documents which come in from the seller’s solicitors, and will raise any enquiries which they think are necessary to fill in any gaps in the information provided.  At the same time, searches will be applied for. These are searches with the local authority, the water authority, an environmental search and, in some areas, a mining search.

Once the replies to enquiries and search results are back, your solicitor will send you a report to summarise the information about the property. It is important that you ask questions if you don’t understand or are concerned about anything, as this is the time to get any queries cleared up.

By this time hopefully you will also have received your mortgage offer from your chosen mortgage lender. Your solicitor will report to you on your mortgage, and explain the risks involved in taking out mortgage finance and any special conditions which you have to comply with.

Once you are happy, you can sign and return the documents for your purchase and provide your deposit monies, and then your solicitor can look to agree an exchange and completion date with the rest of the chain. If you are living in rented accommodation, please don’t hand in your notice to your landlord until you are sure that your purchase is under contract and a completion date is set, as unfortunately things can go wrong and nothing is guaranteed until contracts have been exchanged.

It is very important that you are aware that the onus is on you as the buyer to make as many enquiries and investigations about the property before exchange of contracts. The rule is “let the buyer beware”, so please take the time to look at any valuation and survey reports thoroughly, to read the reports sent to you by your solicitor, and to ask anything that you need to as early on in the process as possible.

Until contracts are exchanged, nothing is definite and unfortunately it does sometimes happen that chains fall apart or people get gazumped. From the moment of exchange, the purchase price, completion date, and all other terms of the contract are legally binding and cannot be changed. If something then happens to prevent you from buying the property, you will be in breach of contract and subject to paying interest, penalties and, worst case scenario, losing your deposit monies.

On the day of completion you will be able to get your keys as soon as the purchase monies are received by the seller’s solicitors. Your solicitor will then deal with registering your ownership of the property and any mortgage secured over it, and will send you a copy of the Register once this has been done.

Overall, the conveyancing process can be a very stressful period, but if you take things step by step and ask questions when you need to, your solicitor should be able to guide you through it.

If you require any further information please feel free to contact us.

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