In recent years, there has been a tendency for some people to do their own conveyancing. However, as buying or selling a property can be fraught with legal pitfalls and is very time consuming, most people will use the services of a conveyancing solicitor. As solicitors will charge for this service, it is only fair to ask what they do for their fees.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process to transfer the ownership of property titles from one person to another. The conveyancing process begins once you have had an offer accepted on a property and ends once the contracts have been signed and the money transferred to complete the sale.
Who does my conveyancing?
You can hire a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to do the conveyancing for you. All solicitors are qualified to carry out this type of work, but it is a good idea to hire someone who specialises in residential property transactions.
Some mortgage lenders have an approved list of conveyancers for you to choose from.
What exactly will a solicitor/conveyancer do for me?
1. Request your details
The very first thing a conveyancer will do is request your basic details including your contact information, date of birth and national insurance number. They will also require details of your estate agent, whether you need a mortgage for the purchase and – if you do – which lender you are using and where the deposit is coming from. You will also need to submit photo ID such as passport or driving licence.
Conveyancers must check your identity and your source of funds (beyond any mortgage) because they are under stringent rules to prevent money laundering and other types of fraud.
Searches will include a local authority search
to see if the property is affected by the proximity of railways, both over-ground and under-ground. This search also verifies whether there is any planning permission for future developments close to the property, or any other developments that may prove disadvantageous to the property now, or in the future.
Water and drainage searches
will reveal if there are any sewers close to the property or any running within the property’s boundaries. They will also ask the local water company to confirm they are responsible for the maintenance of the sewers, drains, and pipes.
An environmental search
will reveal if the land the property has been built on has any environmental issues. These will include contamination caused by previous use, risk of subsidence, landslips, or flooding.
3. Draw up paperwork and carry out checks (and more checks)
Your conveyancing solicitor will ask your estate agents for the memorandum of sale which contains the solicitor details for each party in the chain. Your solicitor will contact your seller’s solicitor for all the legal documents relating to the sale.
It is the seller’s solicitor’s job to draw up the draft contract
, they will send this together with:
- The Title Deeds of the property from the Land Registry
- The Sellers Property Information Form, which gives the potential buyer detailed information about the property, covering neighbour disputes to when the boiler was last serviced.
- The Fittings and Contents Form outlining what will be left and removed from the property as part of the sale
- The Leasehold Information Form specifying, amongst other things, details of the ground rent payable. This is only applicable if you are buying a leasehold property.
Your conveyancer will then carefully go through these documents and raise any queries they feel need addressing before the sale proceeds.
Once the search results and contract papers have been completed and your solicitor is satisfied with the results, they will send you a summary detailing everything they have received.
This should include everything you need to know about the property. Information about the boundaries, and any restrictions on the deeds that you must comply with.
4. Send you paperwork to sign
Your solicitor will send you all the checked documents to sign and return. Some of the documents can be emailed to you, for you to sign, scan and email back. Others, such as the Title Deeds, will be posted as they require an original signature.
5. Line up all parties for exchange and completion
At this point, your solicitor will ask you for a deposit (normally 10% of the purchase price) and will discuss with you a convenient date to move into your new home (the completion date). That date will then need to be agreed with the seller’s solicitor and those parties further along the chain.
Once a completion date is agreed, your solicitor will work towards a date when you can exchange contracts.
On exchange of contract, the deposit is transfer to the seller and the completion date is fixed in the contract. The exchange starts with the seller at the top of the chain, then cascades down. This is the point at which the purchase becomes legally binding.
Your solicitor will request the balance of the mortgage amount from the bank or building society and you will need to pay any other outstanding balances before completion can take place.
On the day of completion, your solicitor sends the balance payable to the seller’s solicitors by same-day CHAPS transfer. Once the cash has arrived with the seller’s solicitor, they will telephone to confirm completion and authorise the estate agents to release the keys.
8. Register change of ownership
Once you are in your new property, the conveyancer will pay any stamp duty due to the Inland Revenue and register your ownership with the Land Registry.
How much will it cost?
The price you pay for conveyancing will vary depending on factors including location, and whether some additional searches are required – because the property is close to a river, for example. Legal fees for leasehold properties are likely to be more.
However, costs can also vary from one solicitor to another, so it’s advisable to shop around and get quotes. Solicitors in England and Wales must now publish their conveyancing fees on their websites, making it is easy to compare costs.
Typically, solicitors' fees for conveyancing are around £850 to £1,000, which is a small proportion of the overall buying and selling costs.
Can I do my own conveyancing?
DIY conveyancing is possible, however, like many complicated transactions, the devil is in the detail and buying or selling a property is no exception to this rule. Conveyancing is an extremely time-consuming and complicated process which could end in disaster if mistakes are made.
If you are taking out a mortgage to purchase the property DIY conveyancing will not be an option as your mortgage lender will insist on employing a professional conveyancer.
We can help
Plaza Estates have over 40 years of experience helping clients buy and sell properties in central London. We will work with your conveyancing solicitor to ensure that your move as problem-free as possible. If you want a stress-free home move, contact us