What is Residential Conveyancing?
Residential conveyancing is the legal and administrative process of transferring land or property from one person or entity to another, known as the seller and the buyer. In the UK solicitors and licenced conveyancers generally use the Law Society Conveyancing Protocol and the framework is used as the ‘preferred practice’ for buying and selling homes.
Many sellers use an estate agent who will value the property and put it on the market. The agent facilitates the physical showing of the property, takes any offers made by potential buyers and presents the offer to the seller.
A solicitor becomes involved when an offer has been made by a potential buyer and accepted by the seller. Each party should instruct their own independent solicitor so there is no conflict of interest.
Solicitors usually send their clients an initial client care letter explaining the process and the costs involved, including Stamp Duty and VAT on estate agents’ fees. The solicitor will liaise with the estate agent and mortgage lender and ensure that the purchase is registered with the Land Registry.
Our fees for acting on your residential conveyancing transaction will reflect a wide variety of factors including whether the transaction is a sale or purchase, your property’s location, and whether it is a flat or a house. Disbursements will also need to be factored into your costs.
Buyers will need to consider stamp duty. First time buyers do not have to pay stamp duty.
The seller’s solicitor will request a copy of the deeds from the seller who may have them at home or at their bank or building society. The seller will need to complete a property information form with details about any disputes with neighbours, boundary and access issues, planning permission/building consent and any neighbouring proposed/planned development.
The seller should also detail the fixtures and fittings to be included in the sale, and include arrangements about what will happen upon completion.
The buyer’s solicitor will ask about finances and how a buyer will be raising the money to pay for the property and will have money-laundering checks in place. They will liaise with the buyer’s mortgage lender to confirm that the funds will be available to purchase the property. The buyer must have the deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price) ready before exchange of contracts which is paid to their solicitor’s client account and transferred to the seller’s solicitor upon exchange of contracts. The rest is paid on completion.
The buyer’s solicitor will undertake property searches to flag any areas of concern. The usual searches are of the title, local authority, mining, utilities, environmental, chancery etc. Any issues flagged will be raised with the buyer’s solicitor.
The buyer’s solicitor will also arrange for any required surveys to be carried out. Surveys available include a condition report which is the cheapest option at approximately £350. It could give some indication of any issues but nothing in detail. A homebuyers report/survey costs a bit more at around £350 upwards and will give a bit more detail depending on what is agreed. A full building survey by a RICS surveyor is recommended, especially on older properties, and will cost around £500. This will give a full, detailed report on the structure of the property. This will give the buyer peace of mind that they are making a good investment or show any issues that may prove too costly to move forward with the purchase.
Both parties will negotiate any issues arising from the searches, fixtures and fittings and the surveys, with the aim of reaching an agreement.
Exchange of Contracts
Once the initial stage is complete, the seller’s solicitor will draft the Contract for Sale and send it to the buyer’s solicitor to check and arrange for the buyer to sign. The contract will include dates for completion which is usually a few weeks after exchange of contracts (up to 28 days) but can vary depending in the parties’ circumstances. If either party is in a chain the solicitors will have to make arrangements with the other parties’ solicitors and keep communicating with them throughout, to try and keep timings running together and on schedule so that the chain does not collapse.
The buyer must ensure that they have buildings insurance cover for the property in place before exchange of contracts.
On the day of exchange each solicitor will usually arrange a telephone call during which they each read out the contracts to check they are the same and then post the signed contract to each other.
The parties are then legally bound to fulfil the contract and complete the sale/purchase. If a party pulls out after exchange of contracts they can be sued by the other party.
On completion day the monies are transferred from the buyer to the seller’s solicitor at an agreed time and the keys exchanged. The seller should vacate the property by the completion date unless otherwise agreed. Both solicitors send their clients a final letter regarding completion and any outstanding client care matters regarding funds etc.
Buying or selling residential property is a big decision with significant financial considerations. Although conveyancing transactions occur every day, many people under-estimate some of the complexities involved in transferring property and the due diligence required when buying or selling.
We have assisted hundreds of clients with their residential conveyancing needs and provide transparent pricing and communication to help navigate your transaction. We find that many customers are referred to us by former customers, which is measure of the service we provide.