Conveyancing is simply the legal process of transferring ownership of a property – something you may not have heard of before if you’re buying your first home. Here’s what else you should know about it.
What does conveyancing mean?
To put it simply, conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another. A conveyancer or property solicitor acts on behalf of their client throughout the entire process, from providing forms of ID to receiving the title deeds for the property.
Conveyancing protects your legal ownership of the home you purchase.
Who is allowed to do conveyancing?
When it comes to those who can handle conveyancing, there are two types of professionals:
- Licensed Conveyancer
- Conveyancing Solicitor
The primary distinction is that conveyancing solicitor is certified in all types of law, but they prefer to practice property law. On the other hand, a licensed conveyancer only has qualifications in property law and thus specializes exclusively in that field. Whichever you choose, know that your individual will be able to properly execute your contract. You can learn more about the discrepancies between a licensed conveyancer and a conveyancing solicitor.
Although you can conveyance on your own, we would highly recommend against it. If you’re going to be dealing with something as large as loans and other people’s property purchases (if you’re part of a chain), it’s not the time to start trying to save money by handling the process yourself.
Your conveyancers are experienced professionals who know how to get things done. They have established relationships with mortgage providers, surveyors, and estate agents, and they know the ins and outs of the process. That expertise is worth investing in.
What is the process of conveyancing?
Many conveyancers offer an app that will allow you to track the progress of your move and see what still needs to be done, without needing to constantly contact them for updates. This is especially useful if they are waiting on information from another source, like the Land Registry or mortgage provider.
- Your conveyancer will request some paperwork from you such as identification, bank information, and details about the property.
- They will communicate with the seller’s solicitor to receive a contract pack.
- They will contact your mortgage advisor or bank to get a copy of your offer.
- The company will request and carry out the necessary Local Authority searches about the property. These requested searches from the Local Authority will provide information about any issues with the land the property is built on, proximity to a chemical plant, or any upcoming building work in nearby areas. Once your conveyancing solicitor reviews the information, they will be able to tell you if anything will affect your property’s value. In certain situations, it might be best to get additional insurance for things that showed up in the searches. Your conveyancer can guide you through this process.
- Coordinating with the other party, your solicitor will establish potential completion dates to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Your contract is signed, and they will send the seller’s conveyancer your deposit.
- They will transfer the deeds and prepare a completion statement for you to complete, and then transfer these to the seller’s conveyancer.
- After the funds are secured, the buyer’s conveyancer will request the mortgage payment from your lender and arrange to transfer the balance of the purchase price to the seller’s conveyancer.
- After your conveyancer completes the sale, they will file a tax return and pay the appropriate Stamp Duty (or LTT/LBTT in Wales and Scotland) to HM Revenue & Customs. They will send the documents that transfer ownership of the property to the Land Registry, which will update their records. The title deeds will be sent lastly to your mortgage lender.
So much of the conveyancing process is conducted behind the scenes, between the Land Registry, Local Authorities, Mortgage Lenders, and the seller’s conveyancing team. This is to ensure that everything progresses smoothly and accurately.
How can I ensure a smooth conveyancing process?
The term ‘conveyancing’ can be confusing, but what your conveyancing is working towards is ultimately the exchange of contracts between buyer and seller. This means that you are legally committed to buying the property. You will sign your documents, and the sellers will sign theirs before giving them to their respective conveyancers. The last step in this process is when you pay your deposit.
If you’re buying a property in England, Wales, or Northern Ireland and are relying on the sale of your own home to finance it, you may run into some difficulties. This is because until contracts have been exchanged, either party can still back out. Consequently, if someone further down the chain backs out, this could cause a domino effect and result in everyone’s sales falling through.
Either buyer or seller may try to get a better deal at the last minute, by asking for a lower price or demanding more money. This is where you might have heard terms like gazumping when someone makes a higher offer on a property you’re in the process of buying.
If you want to reduce the risk of being gazumped, make sure you’re prepared before hiring your conveyancer by gathering all relevant ID, paperwork, mortgage offers, etc.
Once you exchange, you are officially committed to the property. If your plans change and you decide not to go through with the sale, then you will lose your deposit. After exchanging, all that is left is waiting for ‘completion.’ This happens when final transfers are made and everything is finalized–you can finally move in!
How much will you spend on conveyancing fees?
The cost of conveyancing entirely depends on the property you’re buying- including the value, if it’s freehold or leasehold, and if you’re taking part in any special schemes like Help to Buy. If additional paperwork is required for your chosen conveyancer, this will affect the price as well.
On average, you can expect to pay £1500 for professional conveyancing services in 2021-2022. This fee usually includes additional costs (disbursements), but not the government’s Stamp Duty Land Tax.
Always compare prices among different conveyancing solicitors to find the best price. You can also use our moving cost calculator for a more accurate estimate of the cost.
How to find a reputable conveyancing solicitor
While searching for a conveyancing solicitor, be sure to look at reviews. Furthermore, checking if they are regulated by either the Council for Licensed Conveyancers or the Solicitors Regulation Authority is important. Doing this research will allow you to trust them more and be confident in their abilities as a solicitor.
For more on conveyancing and what it means, check out the guide at really moving.