Conveyancing is simply the process of buying and selling land and transferring the legal title to property. At one time it was the exclusive province of solicitors, and although solicitors still often act in a conveyancing transaction, a number of cost saving alternatives are available. Regulations restrict those that can act, but consideration should be given to instructing a firm of licensed conveyancers as well as a solicitor conveyancer, or even acting for yourself in a straightforward transaction.The conveyancing process is naturally different for the sale or purchase or the re-mortgaging of a property, and will vary dependent on whether the property is freehold or leasehold.
The conveyancer will, prior to exchange of contracts:
• Obtain the deeds to the property (usually these are held by the seller’s building society or lender);
• Obtain office copies of the title which will be held by the Land Registry.
• Ask the seller to complete a ‘property information form’ and a form showing the fixtures and fittings to be included in the sale, and to provide the originals of any ‘guarantees’ which apply to the property;
• Prepare a draft contract for sale, and submit this to the buyer’s conveyancer;
• Deal with any precontract enquiries submitted by the buyer. Once the above is done, a completion date and deposit will be agreed and contracts signed ready for exchange of contracts.
On exchange of contracts, the buyer will pay a deposit, usually 10%, which will be held by the seller’s conveyancer as stakeholder and cannot be released. On exchange of contracts, both parties are bound to complete the sale. If they do not, the deposit is forfeit and a claim for damages can be made.
The conveyancer acting for the buyer will prepare a form of transfer, which will be sent for approval to the conveyancer acting for the seller. A mortgage redemption figure will be obtained, together with any other expenses, such as agent’s fees, to be paid from the completion monies. On completion, the signed transfer document will be handed over in exchange for the balance of the purchase monies. The mortgage will be redeemed, and the balance paid to the seller, or utilised in a coordinated purchase.
The conveyancer acting for the buyer will:
• Receive and approve a draft contract from the seller;
• When received, make necessary searches of the local authority, the Land Registry and other statutory bodies as appropriate;
• After consultation with the purchaser, make any necessary additional enquiries, and discuss the standard replies to enquiries provided;
• Receive any mortgage offer, and ensure that it complies with requirements;
• Report to the buyer as to the property, and any special steps that should be taken, or matters he should consider before binding himself to the purchase;
• Arrange for signature of the contract and any mortgage deed, and arrange for payment of the agreed deposit;
• Agree completion dates, and attend to exchange of contracts;
• Once contracts are exchanged, make final searches against the property, and the buyer when acting for a lender;
• On completion, receive and pay out the balance of the purchase price, and receive the transfer document;
• Pay any stamp duty payable;
• Register the buyer’s title at the land registry.
• Provide a copy of the title and other documents to the buyer, and send the originals to the lender.
The conveyancer will:
• Obtain the title deeds, and a redemption figure from the existing lender;
• Receive the new mortgage offer and consider any conditions applicable;
• Carry out any searches required by the new lender;
• Prepare, and arrange for the borrower to sign the new mortgage deed, and agree a completion date;
• On completion, redeem the existing mortgage and any other costs, and account to the borrower for the balance;
• Register the new mortgage at the Land Registry. Copies will be sent to the borrower, and the originals to the lender. Stamp duty stamp duty on a sliding scale from 2% of the purchase price is payable by the purchaser of all residential properties valued over £125,000. It rises to 3% for properties valued at over £250,000.