What is Involved in the Conveyancing Process

Selling a property can seem like a complex procedure. What steps does a conveyancing solicitor go through?

Buying or selling any big ticket article can seem stressful and complicated, and for most of us the biggest and most valuable of them all is a house. The legal process of transferring ownership of property from one person to another even has a name of its own. So what is conveyancing actually all about, and what goes on behind the doors of the solicitor’s office?

First steps

The conveyancing process generally begins when you have accepted an offer from your prospective buyer. However, it makes sense to appoint your conveyancing solicitors before then so that you have them primed and ready to go. This will also minimise any additional delays in what can already be a lengthy process.

For this reason, most sellers appoint their solicitors around the same time they put their homes on the market. Choosing the right one is much the same decision making process as with any other type of professional advisor. Past experience, recommendations from friends and online reviews are just as important as looking at who will charge the most competitive rate.

Questions, questions, questions

Your conveyancing solicitor will give you plenty of homework in order to get the legal process going. This will be in the form of questionnaires related to the property and the sale. The questions you will have to answer will include, among other things:

Information on boundaries and who is responsible for them

  • Any disputes with neighbours
  • Details about utilities, sewerage and so on
  • What fixtures and fittings will remain
  • Information regarding the freehold if you do not own it
  • Details about mortgages and liabilities
  • Any planning information or preservation orders

Searches

Of course, you must answer the above questions truthfully and to the best of your knowledge, and failure to do so can lead to liabilities later down the line. But there are some things you might not know about, so the buyer’s solicitor will also perform searches. These are to establish whether there are factors such as nearby planning applications or environmental preservation orders that could affect the property, its value or its usage by the buyer.

Draft contract

The information from the questionnaires and the searches will provide the basis of the draft contract. The seller’s solicitor sends it to the buyer’s solicitor and they agree the final terms. These include, for example, the date of completion, the fixtures and fittings to be included or excluded and final confirmation on the sale price.

Exchange of contracts

When contracts are exchanged, the parties involved are in a legally binding agreement to go through with the sale. Sometimes, there can be a long chain of buyers and sellers, and exchange of contracts must take place between all parties in the chain on the same day. It only takes one person pulling out or delaying to bring everything crashing down, which is why this is often the most stressful step in the whole process. When contracts have been exchanged, you should immediately receive the buyer’s deposit, which is typically 10 percent of the total property price.

Completion

This is the final step in the process. On completion, the final transfer of funds takes place and the house is now the property of the buyer, so you can hand over the keys and wish them happiness in their new home.