Once you have negotiated the purchase of a new home or agreed the sale of your existing property, you will need to enlist the services of a lawyer to deal with the legal formalities. We call this the conveyancing process and the lawyer who carries it out a conveyancer.
We hope you will find useful the following summary of the conveyancing process in operation and the various stages through which the transaction will progress before reaching completion.
This is when the buyer’s conveyancer investigates the legal ownership of the property and makes other searches and enquiries about matters that may affect it.
Sellers must by law have a Home Information Pack (HIP) in place before their estate agent can market the property. This is to provide potential buyers with as much initial information as possible. For more information about Home Information Packs, please contact one of our conveyancing specialists (see below) or visit www.homeinformationpacks.gov.uk.
The buyer’s conveyancer will, in addition to investigating the seller’s legal right of ownership of the property, check through standard information forms prepared by the buyer which cover such matters as boundaries, disputes, building works and items to be included or excluded from the sale. Routine enquiries will also be made of various authorities and appropriate action taken to deal with any issues arising from the replies received.
Buyers requiring mortgages need to make their arrangements at the earliest opportunity as one of the most common causes of frustration is delay in receiving the formal mortgage offer.
As sellers are not obliged to keep their buildings insurance in place once contracts are exchanged, we would advise buyers not to wait until completing their purchase to make their buildings insurance arrangements but to ensure that everything is in place for buildings insurance cover to start from the date contracts are exchanged as in some cases buyers may be legally obliged to complete their purchase even though the property has suffered damage between exchange of contracts and completion.
Exchange of contracts:
This is the point at which all the pre-contract work has been completed, the buyer’s financial arrangements such as mortgage funding are in place and the buyer and the seller become legally committed to the transaction and the date for completion (see below) is fixed. It is only at this stage that both parties can safely commit to removal dates and other completion arrangements.
Between exchange and completion:
At this stage, the buyer’s conveyancer will ensure that all necessary funds are in place to complete the purchase on the agreed date and prepare the Transfer document by which ownership of the property will be transferred. He or she will also carry out final searches (to ensure, for instance that the seller has not recently created another mortgage over the property) and agree the completion arrangements with the seller’s conveyancer.
The seller’s conveyancer will obtain a redemption statement for any mortgage affecting the property, ask the seller to sign the Transfer and discuss methods of payment of the sale money at completion.
A few days before the completion date, the buyer’s conveyancer will arrange for the lender to send the mortgage monies in time for completion. The buyer and the seller will need to check their removal arrangements, arrange for service meters to be read and notify change of address, etc.
This is the day of your move and must be a weekday, when the banks and solicitors’ offices are open so that money and property can change hands.
If either buyer or seller is unable to complete on the fixed date (for instance, the buyer’s money is not ready, or the seller has not made removal arrangements in time) they will be liable to pay compensation.
If all the preparations have been carried out properly, completion should go reasonably smoothly, though the parties and their conveyancers are dependent on the banking system working efficiently on that day and monies arriving before the bank transfer cut-off times. It is only when the purchase monies have been received that the seller’s conveyancer can give the go-ahead for release of the keys. This can be particularly frustrating when the removal wagon is ready to unload but the monies are still in the banking system. Usually, however, unless there is an exceptionally long chain of transactions one can normally expect to be able to move in (assuming the seller has moved out) in the early afternoon.
Following completion, the seller's conveyancer must redeem any mortgages over the property, pay the estate agents’ account and send the sale proceeds to their destination.
The buyer's conveyancer will deal with payment of any Stamp Duty Land Tax that is due and then register the buyer’s new ownership of the property (and any new mortgage) with the Land Registry.
We will of course inform you once the transaction has been fully concluded and return to you any relevant documents for your safekeeping.
Although it is possible to complete a transaction within less than four weeks, four to six weeks is probably about the average amount of time it takes assuming no delays with any mortgage offer. Also the fewer properties there are in any chain of transactions, the more chance there is of a sale/purchase completing within a reasonable timescale of the offer having been accepted.
At Gaynham King & Mellor we are always mindful of the needs and expectations of our clients and strive to provide a level of service that meets or exceeds those requirements. For further information about our conveyancing service or to obtain a costs estimate for your sale or purchase please do not hesitate to contact us.