If you’re thinking about buying a property, it’s vital to understand the conveyancing process before diving in. Conveyancing refers to the administrative and legal procedures by which a property’s ownership transfers from one party to another. With multiple stages for buyers and sellers, knowing what to expect can put you in a much stronger position and help you prepare for your purchase.
In this guide, we’re here to share and explain our step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process for buyers, and how a specialist conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor can support you.
The Conveyancing Process: A Step-by-Step Guide
Below, we’ve outlined the stages of conveyancing for buyers so you can familiarise yourself with this process.
- Engaging a solicitor or conveyancer
The first step in the conveyancing process involves instructing a specialised conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor to assist you in the legal aspects of your transaction.
- Reviewing the contract
In response to the contract drafted by the seller’s conveyancer, your conveyancer will review the information and raise enquiries on your behalf. They will also compile a property report explaining the documents to you in terms you can understand, highlighting the most important information to you, and making you aware of any potential issues.
This report should also contain the documents you need to sign (usually the Contract and Transfer, and if you’re buying this will also include the Stamp Duty Form and Mortgage Deed where a lender is involved).
They will also conduct a property search to ensure no legal issues are associated with it, including environmental searches and land registry checks. Furthermore, your conveyancer may also check up on planning permissions and building regulations to ensure the property is in order.
- Property survey
The buyer will arrange a property survey to uncover potential issues not identified in the previous searches.
- Securing a mortgage
If applicable, you can apply for a mortgage and wait for the lender to accept your offer. Ensure your conveyancer is kept informed of the mortgage lender’s details.
- Reporting the contract
If your conveyancer is happy to proceed, they will report back to you and offer their legal expertise on the title and the transaction. The reporting stage may take a little more time if the property is leasehold as the lease terms have to be reported on, and these can be complicated.
The buyer will review the report and raise any further concerns or queries they have about it. Once all inquiries have been answered, both conveyancers will arrange to sign the contract. They will finalise a completion date.
- Agreeing a date
Once your conveyancer has replies to their enquiries, Searches, the Mortgage Offer and your signed documents, they can start getting a date agreed for you. These are usually suggested through the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors, but estate agents regularly assist. In some circumstances, the buyer and seller may opt to communicate directly.
Subject to such lender timeframes, the conveyancers will need enough time to set up their files (request lender monies and draw up any final Bill/Completion Statement), and buyers will also need to check their banking limit for transferring funds (as to how much they can transfer per day and how long this will take to reach our account). This is particularly important where monies are being drawn down from savings, trust and pension funds, as this can take a few days to a few weeks.
The next step is to exchange. This can be done in advance once all of the above points have been satisfied, but sometimes takes place on the same day as Completion.
Exchange legally binds everyone to the transaction and a date by way of a deposit (usually 10%, but this will all be explained to you as your conveyancer will take verbal instructions before securing you to the or purchase).
It is from this point that you’re safe to book removers and, as a buyer, we recommend you insure the building from this point. Most importantly, though, you can finally order the furniture you’ve been bookmarking since you first viewed the property!
- Post-signing actions
Furthermore, the conveyancer will inform local authorities and utility companies that the ownership has changed. Thus, the buyer’s name will be officially registered as the new owner of the property in question.
“Here at Newtons, I will give you a general overview on the phone once I have reviewed the papers, as I know it can be a lot of information to digest. We are always at the other end of the phone throughout the transaction, so you don’t need to worry if you’re not sure – just ask!”
Eden Goldie, Conveyancing Solicitor at Newtons Solicitors
Key Conveyancing Documentation
While every transaction is different, there are a few main documents a conveyancer will check first to ensure the interests of both you and your lender are protected. These include the Title, Protocol Forms, Mortgage Offer and Searches.
The Title is the legal Title to the property but, as well as confirming the owner and lender details, it also contains vital information relating to the Deeds, such as Rights granted to-and-from the property, covenants that you will need to observe while in ownership of the property and also any restrictions that need to be complied with during the conveyancing process.
Essentially, your conveyancer will be making sure you have the adequate easements for use and enjoyment, and ensuring there are no onerous clauses.
The Protocol Forms are completed by the seller and, while they cannot be relied upon, your conveyancer likely won’t physically inspect the property, so they do assist in building a picture. The Forms include information as to boundaries (as these can be defined one way in the Deeds but are another in practice), details of works carried out to the property so we can ensure the relevant permissions are in place and other points such as environmental matters. There will also be a Fittings and Contents Form, which will reveal the items the seller intends to include and exclude from the transaction.
If you’re purchasing with a mortgage, your conveyancer will check the formal Mortgage Offer to ensure the legal aspect of the property meets the requirements of your lender. They will convert the Offer into simple terms for you – drawing your attention to any important matters – and also make sure the lender’s post-completion tasks are attended to for you.
Your conveyancer will recommend that you have Searches carried out, which are required if you are purchasing with a mortgage, and will review and report to you on these. The most common Searches are:
- The Environmental Search – this reveals whether a property has suffered from any flooding, ground stability, subsidence or similar issues.
- The Drainage Search – this reveals whether the property is connected to mains water and sewerage, as well as whether there are installations within the property boundaries that you need to be aware of.
- The Local Search – this contains lots of useful information which will assist your conveyancer in confirming whether works carried out to the property have the adequate regulations, whether the roads abutting the property are adopted, whether there are planning restrictions affecting the area and a whole host of other matters.
If you’re buying a Leasehold property then the most vital document will be the Lease, which your conveyancer will review thoroughly to ascertain the lease term, parties involved, ground rent and service charge obligations and also rights, covenants and other similar provisions.
What buyers should consider before purchasing a property
Before the conveyancing legal process commences, buyers should keep a few things in mind to ensure they are making the appropriate decision in making such a significant investment.
Making a fully-informed decision about a property will help ensure that the property purchased can meet the buyer’s requirements, financial capacity, and long-term objectives.
- Ownership options
Ownership options will vary depending on the number of buyers involved, how much responsibility each buyer wants, and the property’s legal rights. Options include sole or joint ownership, shared ownership and rent-to-buy schemes.
- Property market conditions
By understanding the current property market conditions, you’ll be able to see whether prices are rising or falling, which can influence the time you purchase. Having knowledge of the market can also impact your negotiation strategy when it comes to securing a deal.
- Financing options
It’s essential to research the available financing options, mortgage rates, and interest rates when you come to purchasing a property. Select a mortgage term that best suits your long-term objectives and financial situation.
- Lender timeframes
Lenders do require a set period of time between being notified of a date and their release of funds. This differs for each lender, but usually sits around five days, so you should consider this should you or anyone in the chain be looking for a fast turnaround.
By evaluating your financial situation, you can directly determine your property budget. However, it is critical not just to consider the purchase price – you must also weigh up extra expenses, such as homeowners’ association fees, property taxes, and maintenance.
Calculating the cost of building and contents insurance can help you gain a better idea of your overall expenses.
- Environmental factors
Buyers should monitor environmental concerns prone to the area, such as flood zones.
- Resale history
If possible, buyers should check up on the property’s resale history. A high turnover may suggest that the property has potential hidden problems.
Buyers should think carefully about their long-term lifestyle before purchasing a property, taking into account factors such as family planning, remote working, and potential future up- or down-sizing.
- The area’s future development
Buyers should research upcoming developments in the area which may impact future property values and quality of life.
How Newtons Can Help with the Conveyancing Process
Our conveyancing solicitors have years of experience in helping guide clients through residential conveyancing, and we will always look out for your best interests regarding residential property. Please contact us for more information today.