Whether you are buying or selling a house, it isn’t as simple as viewing it, making or accepting an offer and then paying for or receiving money for the goods as it were. There are many legal aspects that need to be considered and whilst there is no legal obligation to employ someone to help with this process, it is highly advisable that you employ a conveyancer to ensure that all the legal elements are covered. There is nothing worse than a legal technicality stopping the transaction or, even worse, coming back to haunt you in the future. What exactly does a Conveyancer do? In this article we will look at how a Conveyancer helps you during the property sale or purchase and how you can help them, to help you.
Conveyancer vs Solicitor
Often people get a little confused about whether they need a conveyancer or a solicitor. There is a distinction but with little difference. A conveyancing solicitor is a fully qualified solicitor who, after graduation specialises in conveyancing. A conveyancer is also fully trained and qualified but only in conveyancing. Both will be able to give you the service you need and cover all the legalities of selling or buying a property.
What is conveyancing?
Put simply, conveyancing is the legal process by which a property is transferred from one owner to another. There is more to it than simply moving the title deeds over.
The conveyancing process
One of the first things that will happen is that the contract pack is sent between the parties. This includes the contract itself (remember that a property sale is not binding on either party until the contracts have been exchanged), the fixtures, fitting and contents form as well as the property information form, any Leasehold information, the title documents and finally any certification required for the transaction to go ahead.
For the buyer, the conveyancer will also request and check the mortgage offer document as well as carry out all the required local authority, environmental,land registry, water authority and location specific searches which will outline whether the property is a listed building, whether there is any planning permissions for new road or traffic schemes, the quality of the land the property is on, any issues with flooding, the ownership of drainage and sewers or whether it is located in a conservation area to name but a few. Your conveyancer will advise you on other searches which might be required such as Chancel Repair Liability or Commons Registration. Once all these searches have been done your conveyancer will report on the outcomes accordingly before raising any relevant enquiries.
It is these first two steps which take up most of the time and it will pay to be prepared with all any mortgage offers, statements of deposit, any certification related to extensions or new windows and EPC certificates.
Once all enquiries have been responded to in a satisfactory manner any issues have been resolved, your conveyancer will discuss contract exchange and completion dates; these can be on the same day. In preparation for this, they will finalise any completion statements: how much you will need to pay once the deposit has been paid to finalise the transaction such as solicitor fees, stamp duty and the mortgage amount.
Once you are ready to exchange and complete, your conveyancer will forward all documents to you for you to sign and have witnessed. It is important that you have everything signed and witnessed properly or this could delay the process. Once complete and in readiness for exchange and completion your conveyancer will request the mortgage funds from your lender and then all required monies to be transferred to the seller as appropriate.
The final stages are for your conveyancer to submit a tax return to HRMC, if Stamp Duty is due then this will be arranged, and documentation will be forwarded to the Land Registry to confirm the change of ownership along with the title deeds to your mortgage lender.
Home buying can be one of the most exciting experiences, but it is not without complications. Whilst the conveyancing can be done without help, it can be a very complicated process and it pays to employ a professional to ensure that there are no legal pitfalls.