What Are The Stages Of The Conveyancing Process When Buying A Property

By Paul Dobbs
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Most people are aware that they will need a conveyancer (a lawyer who deals with conveyancing) to represent them in a property transaction. However, what does a conveyancer do and what is the legal process they carry out? A conveyancing transaction has various stages to it - all of which must be complete before you get those much-awaited keys.

For this Blog, we asked our Recommended conveyancer, Katy Ready of PCS Legal to explain all the different stages of a property transaction:

Once your offer is accepted you will need to instruct a conveyancer to deal with the legal process of your transaction.  There are various stages involved, which need to be completed before you can collect your keys.

1.      Instruct a Conveyancer

Your conveyancer will send a quotation and once you have instructed them they will send you questionnaires to complete about yourself.  They will also need to verify your ID.  Many law firms can now complete ID checks electronically through your smartphone, where it is dealt with though an easy, safe and secure app.

As well as verifying your identity, your conveyancer will also need to have evidence of your source of funds for the purchase.  This is due to the fact that there are strict Anti-Money Laundering Regulations which they need to comply with.  There unfortunately are lots of fraudsters who take advantage of the large sums of money which change hands in conveyancing and therefore your source of funds must be verified, as without which the purchase cannot proceed.  If any part of your funds are coming from a gift, ID checks will also be made on the giftor.

2.      Draft Contract Pack

Once all your questionnaires have been returned and your ID and source of funds have been verified, your conveyancer will contact the sellers conveyancer to confirm instructions and request a draft Contract pack.  This pack contains not only the draft Contract but copies of the property title documents and any supporting deeds.  There will also be property information forms and fixtures and fittings schedule completed by the seller.

Your conveyancer will then review all of these documents to ensure there are not issues with the title to the property.  They will review the draft Contract to make sure this shows the correct information, such as property address, your full names and the correct purchase price.  The property information forms will answer questions such as whether there have been any building works at the property, any buildings insurance claims, who maintains which boundaries, the current utility providers and when the gas and electrics were last serviced/maintained.  The fixtures and fittings schedule indicates which items are included and excluded from a transaction and the sellers are legally bound to adhere to this after contracts have been exchanged.

Once the conveyancer has completed their review of the draft paperwork, they will raise various enquiries with the sellers solicitors based on all the information they have been provided with.  This is the most important part of the conveyancing process as they need to make sure they have as much information about the property to be able to advise you to proceed to purchase it and to make sure you have all the relevant information you need. 

  3.      Searches

Once your draft Contract pack is received your conveyancer will apply for property searches.  The searches which are usually carried out are local authority searches (which will give details of any planning applications, check the roads are adopted and any land charge information) water and drainage search (which will reveal who maintains the drains and sewers and the location of the same) and an environmental search (which checks for contaminated land, flooding, subsidence, etcetera).  There sometimes may be additions searches required based on the area of the property but your conveyancer will check which are required at the time of ordering.  Once the search results come back your conveyancer will review the same and report to you on the contents contained therein. 

4.      Mortgage Offer

If you require a mortgage to purchase your property, then the mortgage lender will issue a copy of the offer to yourself and your conveyancer.  Your conveyancer will usually also be representing your lender and therefore need to ensure the lenders interests are protected as well as your own.  Therefore, sometimes your conveyancer will need to report on certain aspects of the property for the lenders approval before they are able to proceed.

Once your conveyancer has reviewed your mortgage offer they will send a report to you on the contents of the same and send you a Mortgage Deed to sign.  This deed is your agreement that the lender can place a charge over the legal title of the property at the same time as it is registered in your name.  This will then give the lender a power of repossession if you fail to keep up with your mortgage repayments.

5.      The Final Report

Once your conveyancer has received all of the replies to enquiries, the mortgage offer (if required) and the results of searches they will then prepare a report to you, which will contain all the information received about the property and their legal advice in this respect.  This report will also enclose the Contract document for you to sign and return in readiness.  Your conveyancer will at this time also request your deposit funds in anticipation of exchange of Contracts.

6.      Exchange and Completion

Once you have signed the Contract and returned it to your conveyancer together with your deposit monies on account, your conveyancer will then discuss possible completion dates (the date you get your keys and can move into the property) with you and the rest of the chain.  Once a date is agreed your conveyancer will carry out their final checks on your file and request the mortgage advance from your lender.  Once all checks have been completed your conveyancer will call to take your verbal authority to exchange Contracts on your behalf.

Once exchange of Contracts has taken place you are then legally bound to purchase the property and can no longer withdraw from the transaction.  Likewise, the seller is legally bound to sell the property to you.  Therefore, it is very important that you only instruct your conveyancer to proceed once you are fully satisfied with all the information provided to you, together with the condition of the property (including any gas/electrical utility appliances) as once exchange of contracts has taken place, any issues discovered thereafter are no longer the sellers responsibility.

On the day of completion, your conveyancer will transfer the purchase price to your sellers solicitors bank account.  Once the sellers solicitors confirm receipt of the funds they will then telephone the estate agents to release the keys.  There is no set time during the day when completion will take place but this is usually around lunchtime/early afternoon.

7.      Post Completion

After completion has taken place, your conveyancer will prepare and submit the stamp duty land tax return and pay the stamp duty (if required).  Your conveyancer will then make an application to the Land Registry to register you as the new owner of the property.  This can take quite a while as there is a backlog at the Land Registry, however once the registration is completed your conveyancer will send you an up to date copy of the title which will show you as the registered proprietor.

We hope you found this blog informative and if you would like to know more about the conveyancing process, or indeed require a conveyancer to act for you why not get in touch with Katy on 01268 201172

Until next time,

Paul Dobbs
Sales Director





About the Author...

Paul has been successfully selling property locally since 1992 working for both large corporate estate agents and smaller independents where he rose to Area Manager.
Read about Paul