Estimated reading time: 10 minutes
Knowing the basics
‘Conveyancing’ is the name of the legal process of transferring ownership from one person to another. It is usually carried out by a solicitor or specifically licensed conveyancer.
In a nutshell, the conveyancers’ key role is to secure the property title, along with the rights to the land. They will also look for any restrictions or covenants before you legally commit to purchase.
Fees for the service can range from £700 – £1,500. This will not include your Stamp Duty land tax liability.
The entire process should take between 8 – 12 weeks to complete. However, this can be longer if the case is complex or the chain is long.
Before you make an offer
Line up your mortgage
Get your agreement in principle
Once you have an idea on which lender you are likely to choose, you can instruct your mortgage broker to apply for an agreement in principle. Your agreement in principle is the first time your broker will send your information to a prospective lender. At this point the lender will run a credit check and calculate how much they could lend you subject to underwriting.
Choose your conveyancer
Similarly to choosing a mortgage broker, you should choose the conveyancer which suits you best, not the estate agent. Do your due diligence, read reviews online and make an informed decision on who is going to be the best for you.
Speaking to friend and family who have recently moved would be a good idea, and see whether they would recommend the conveyancers they used to move.
Find a conveyancer who offers a ‘no sale, no fee’ service. This will protect you against unwanted costs if the sale aborts.
Consider homebuyers insurance to protect you from lost survey and search fees which can cost in excess of £1,000.
Preparation is key
Instruct your conveyancer
Telling your solicitor or conveyancer that you want them to work for you is called instructing.
If you want to be prepared then it’s a good idea to do this prior to putting any offers forward. Doing so will give the seller, and their estate agent confidence that you are able to start the transaction quickly.
Once you do this, your conveyancer will send you a ‘letter of engagement’ or ‘client care letter’. This letter is their agreement with you and will outline their terms of business, fees and confirm that you have formally instructed them as your representative.
What will the conveyancer need?
You should carefully read all the paperwork and ask questions about anything you are unsure of.
They will request your ID and something which proves what your address is. It is also at this point that they may request monies from you so they can buy searches on your behalf. Typically this will cost somewhere in the region of £300.
‘Searches’ or ‘property searches’ are completed on behalf of your chosen solicitor. Your conveyancer will work with local authorities and other organisations to find out important information about the property. This will include any nearby planning applications, drainage issues among other things.
You will also need to provide proof that you have funds available to proceed with the purchase. This could be your bank statements, along with your the agreement in principle provided by your mortgage broker.
Get all of these forms and proof sent back to your conveyancer as soon as possible to ensure you are able to proceed with the purchase.
Make an offer
Before they accepting your offer, the estate agent should request your proof of funds, along with your chosen conveyancers information.
Once your offer has been accepted, the work can begin.
Now you have reached this point, it’s reasonable to request that the property is removed from the marketplace.
Get back in touch with your conveyancer and mortgage broker and tell them that your offer has been accepted and that the memorandum of sale should be expected from the estate agency.
Memorandum of sale
The memorandum of sale is a legal document which records the details of the sale of property. It is used to documents that the sale of property has been agreed between the buyer and seller STC (subject to contract). The memorandum will include any details relevant to the sale, such as the property address and agreed price.
Now that the process has begun, now is the time to provide the conveyancer with a list of queries you have about the property. It’s important that you pose these questions to your conveyancer and not the sellers estate agent, as your conveyancer will ensure they are formally answered and request proof where necessary.
Discuss a timeframe with your conveyancer, the estate agent and your mortgage advisor, don’t assume that they’re all in constant contact. Communication is key here.
Request paperwork and ask more questions
Your conveyancer will write to the seller’ conveyancer and request a copy of the draft contract and legal pack.
They will also make sure that all searches have been ordered which will give information on any potential planning, drainage or environmental issues.
Your conveyancer will raise specific enquiries (questions) with the seller’ conveyancer following receipt of the legal pack.
As the searches come back, the your conveyancer will thoroughly check through them and investigate into any issues. This is often the point when any additional enquiries will be raised to the sellers conveyancer.
Finalise your Mortgage
You will now need to finalise your mortgage and provide the details to your conveyancer so they can check the terms of the offer. They will make sure there aren’t any terms or conditions which could cause any problems.
Review the legal report
Once all of the searches have been reviewed, enquiries answered, and the mortgage offer has been checked your conveyancer will write you a report on all matters.
Read everything they send and raise any questions about anything you want looked into further.
Make sure you read the ‘fixtures and fittings’ and ‘property information’ forms carefully. Make sure that everything you agreed with the seller and agent is as it should be.
E.G. Did you ask for the blinds to be included? Then make sure it’s documented
Once you and your conveyancer are happy with all the information provided by the seller, your conveyancer will send you the final contract and TR1 form to read and sign.
Return thee documents by tracked or next day post to make sure they are received quickly.
Always double check with your conveyancer that they have been received.
Before you can exchange, your conveyancer will need to hold your deposit as cleared funds.
Usually deposits are 5-10% of the total purchase price. In chains the deposit can be ‘passed up’ from the buyer at the bottom and used by all parties.
Agree a completion date
The conveyancers will negotiate a completion date between themselves and once this has been agreed by all parties it will be included to the contract. Make sure you have told them any dates which you can’t move on.
Get buildings insurance
Buildings insurance is a condition on every mortgage offer. You must supply confirmation of building insurance cover on your new property before exchange of contracts can take place.
Exchange of contracts
Until contract are exchange any party can pull out of the deal at any time.
The formal exchange of contracts usually takes place by a recorded telephone call between the two legal representatives working for the buyer and the seller.
Exchange can only take place when everyone in the chain is able to proceed.
Your conveyancer will contact you to request authority before exchange.
Between exchange and completion
The time between exchange and completion is usually 1 – 2 weeks but in some instances it can be longer. You can use this opportunity to finish packing up for the move and for contacting utility providers of the upcoming change.
Your chosen mortgage lender will usually transfer the remaining funds to your conveyancer the day before completion.
You will need to sign the ‘mortgage deed’ so the money can be handed over in readiness for legal completion.
Your conveyancer will order and review ‘pre-completion’ searches to make sure nothing has changed since exchange.
Ownership of the property now changes hands and it’s time to move.
The sellers must leave the property completely empty, so the buyer can move in. The seller’s conveyancer must be in possession of the TR1 transfer document signed by the seller as this document will be exchanged for the balance of the purchase price sent over by bank transfer.
Once the monies have been received by the sellers solicitor they will call the estate agent and authorise the release of the keys.
The closer you are to the bottom of the chain the sooner you will receive your call. The general rule of thumb is that buyer can access the property from 1PM on completion day.
Once you have your keys you are free to move in. You may want to get your locks changed and definitely take meter readings to ensure you aren’t paying for utilities you haven’t used. Don’t forget to do this at the property you are leaving too.
Your conveyancer will pay the stamp duty and file this with the inland revenue. They should also register you as the new owner of the property with land registry by sending your mortgage deed and TR1 document. Be sure to get confirmation of this.
Roughly 20 days after completion you will receive ‘Title Deeds’ which prove your ownership of the property. Your conveyancer will send a copy of these to your lender for their records and also keep them until you repay your mortgage.
If you have purchased a leasehold property your conveyancer will let the freeholder know you are the new owner of the lease.
Tying up any loose ends
Make sure you have registered tax, utilities and services in your name.
Keep all of your documents together in a safe place as you may need them again. These include:
- Fixtures & Fittings
- Guarantees and warranties
- Boiler Service Record
- Insurance Documents
That’s all folks
That was Prospect Tree Mortgages step-by-step guide to the process behind purchasing a property in the United Kingdom.
Prospect Tree Mortgages are independent mortgage experts based in the UK. We can help you compare mortgages from across the whole of the marketplace to ensure we help you find the best mortgage tailored to your unique circumstances.
Our aim is to to help you save money, time and reduce the stress that moving home can cause. We do this by project managing your application from beginning to end and communicating with you every step of the way.
Been great working with Graeme and Fred, always been helpful, talking me through everything i needed to know and told me what to expect from the solicitors and estate agents always giving helpful advice at every step. Will be recommending to everyone moving house