Do you remember watching the Generation Game on Saturday evenings?
Every series, it seemed, featured a demonstration from an expert plate spinner.
The plate spinner would take a pole put a plate on top and start spinning – and then proceed to balance about 19 or 20 other plates in the same fashion, speedily running between each to ensure none fell off.
I like to think the Conveyancing process as akin to spinning plates except with many, many, more plates. Each part of the conveyancing process needs to be spun to avoid the sale or purchase falling down.
Welcome to Chapter 10 of our Series, your Conveyancing Questions Answered All in One Place: The Conveyancing Process
Next up, the Conveyancing process, or from your perspective, whatever will my Conveyancer do next?
The Conveyancing Process
Conveyancing is the transfer of the title (legal ownership) to a property from one person to another.
The Conveyancing process involves the stages required to successfully transfer the legal title.
Your Conveyancer’s responsibility is to ensure all the relevant legal, non legal and financial matters are concluded satisfactorily.
There are four main stages in the Conveyancing process, three of which you will be involved with and a final administrative stage: -
1. Pre-Exchange, 2. Exchange, 3. Completion, 4. Post Completion
The Conveyancing Process in a Map
You may already be familiar with our Slideshare on the Conveyancing Process which you can view here.
We enlisted our Cap’n Hoot to bring the Conveyancing process to life.
Cap’n Hoot explains the Conveyancing process by arranging the steps you can expect during your home moving voyage onto a treasure island style map.
The cartoon version of the Conveyancing process is here:
We’ve set out below both the visual stages through the conveyancing map and slightly more sober written stages of the Conveyancing process.
The Conveyancing Map:
1. Setting sail – or when you’ve found your dream home and your offer of has been accepted what happens next!
2. What happens when your Conveyancer receives the draft contract and why would she raise “preliminary enquiries”
3. What will Local Authority Searches reveal? ( more on Searched later in the series)
4. What other reports are available that you might need when you buy a house
5. Surveys – why you should always commission a survey when you buy a property.
6. Mortgages – if you need one why it pays to arrange your finances as early as possible
7. Why sometimes you are all ready to move but you have to wait for someone else in the Conveyancing Chain.
Cap’n Hoot calls it entering the “Sea of Becalming”
8. What will happen when you “exchange contracts” and indeed what does that even mean? When will it all be legally binding? ( again, we’ll reveal all later in the series)
9. What do you need to do in order to be ready for moving in day – the Big Day as we like to call it.
10. Completion day – What happens and a little bit of advice about celebrating
The Non Pictorial Conveyancing Process:
1. Pre Exchange
Your Conveyancing Solicitor will request a draft contract from the Seller’s Conveyancing Solicitors, along with the replies to the Property Information Form and Fixtures and Fittings Questionnaire
You cannot have a contract to buy property unless it is in writing or there is some written evidence of it.
This gives the Buyer’s Conveyancing Solicitor time to investigate the title contained in the draft Contract documentation.
The Buyer will at this stage arrange mortgage finance and have the property surveyed. The Seller will find another property to purchase or look at alternative accommodation.
Whilst investigations are being carried out all correspondence should contain the phrase “subject to contract”.
This is used to ensure that both the Buyer and the Seller are not committed to a contract without having all of the necessary information.
Once your Conveyancing Solicitor has received the contracts, this usually takes around a week, the following will occur:-
- Your Conveyancing Solicitor will look through all of the paperwork provided and will raise necessary further enquiries.
- Usually, this is because the documents provided do not contain all of the information required or the information contained within the documents raise further questions. Once the replies to these enquiries are received your Conveyancing Solicitor will report back to you, by letter, email or over the telephone or in person.
- Your Conveyancing Solicitor will apply for any searches that are deemed necessary in relation to your chosen property and once the results are received a report is forwarded to you for information and comments
- A local search varies around the country so expect between a couple of days and a few weeks to come back.
- A copy of your mortgage offer will be forwarded to your Conveyancing Solicitor and once this is received a report is made to you regarding the contents. You should check your mortgage offer carefully to ensure that the offer you received relates to the mortgage product that you applied for. You should also ensure that you are able to satisfy any conditions attached to that offer before you accept the mortgage offer, usually by signing one copy and returning it to your lender.
2. Exchange of Contracts.
Before giving your Conveyancing Solicitor the go ahead to exchange contracts you should be satisfied with all of the search results, enquiries raised, your mortgage offer, your Surveyor’s report and have Buildings Insurance arrangements in hand for your new property.
At this point, your Conveyancing Solicitor will request a deposit, usually 10% of the agreed purchase price. The Seller may if agreed in advance, a smaller amount depending on circumstances.
Once you have provided the deposit to your Conveyancing Solicitor, provided all other parties in the chain are also ready, an exchange should be imminent.
If not already agreed, now is the time to discuss a completion or moving in date.
Once contracts have been exchanged, usually via a telephone call between Conveyancing Solicitors, both parties become legally bound by the terms and conditions of the contract and will be required to complete the contract on the agreed completion date.
You will not be able to change the completion date once contracts have been exchanged and if you cannot complete on the contractual completion date your deposit may be forfeited and you could be sued for further out of pocket expenses.
The completion date is the date when you will be able to collect the keys for your new home and/or hand them over if you are selling.
Between exchange and completion your Conveyancing Solicitor will be required to carry out final searches with the Land Registry, either a Land Charges search or an Official Search, and will also report to your lender that the title to the property makes it a suitable security for their needs and request release of the mortgage advance.
You may also be required to finalise and sign some paperwork if this has not already been carried out. Prior to completion, your Conveyancing Solicitor must be in possession of a signed mortgage deed and Transfer.
Usually about one week before completion you will receive a completion statement. This sets out exactly how much is needed to complete your purchase and will include any Stamp Duty Land Tax that may be payable.
On the day of completion your Conveyancing Solicitor will transfer to the Seller’s Conveyancing Solicitors the purchase price, less any deposit paid on exchange via their Bank electronically.
This process should be virtually simultaneously, but in practice can take up to one hour or two hours to be received by the Seller’s Conveyancing Solicitors. (Banks can have bad hair days as well!). Once they have received the funds they will call the Estate Agents and arrange for the keys to be released to you.
Congratulations you are now officially now a new home owner (and/or an ex home owner)
4. Post Completion
For the Conveyancing Solicitor though, your transaction does not end there and there is still work to be done.
Your Conveyancing Solicitor will arrange for any Stamp Duty payable to be paid to HMRC, in accordance with their requirements. Any fee for Stamp Duty has to be provided to HMRC within 30 days of completion and upon receipt of payment they provide your Conveyancing Solicitor with a certificate that enables the registration at the Land Registry to be carried out.
The Land Registry can take several weeks to complete their part but once everything is checked your Conveyancing Solicitor will send all the deeds to you for safe keeping, unless you have asked them to store the same on your behalf, in which case they will make arrangements to store them in their vault and confirm any details to you in writing.