Whether you are buying or selling a property, you will need a conveyancer to oversee all the legal requirements and ensure your transaction successfully completes. Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from one person to another, and a property sale can’t complete without it.
The cost of a conveyancing transaction will depend on a number of variables, including the cost of the house you are buying or selling, whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and the complexity of your transaction.
This may include, for example, whether you are buying a second home, a buy-to-let, using a Help to Buy equity loan or ISA, utilising a Right to Buy or shared ownership scheme, buying a new build property, using a gifted deposit or whether you are redeeming an existing mortgage. For a typical residential property purchase, conveyancing services cost an average of between £800 and £1,800, though this is by no means a given. This amount includes charges for the solicitor’s time (including calls and letters), as well as searches and Land Registry fees, but won’t include things like Stamp Duty.
A conveyancer handles the legal and administrative work involved in the transfer of property ownership, from undertaking the initial searches to checking the contracts and liaising with the mortgage lender, and will make sure things like Stamp Duty payments and Land Registry requirements are taken care of.
The conveyancing process begins when you’ve had an offer accepted on a property and ends when the transaction completes. One of the first steps is to conduct the required searches, including those with local authorities and utility companies. This will ensure that there’s no unexpected building work due to take place close by, for example, and will reveal things like whether the property is in a flood risk area or comes with any financial liabilities from past inhabitants.
Then they’ll look at the incurred or disbursement costs involved, such as Stamp Duty, and will check the contracts drawn up by the seller’s solicitor, making sure there aren’t any boundary disputes or similar. They’ll liaise with your mortgage lender (if applicable) to make sure that everything is in place to proceed, and the final step is paying any related fees and registering you as the new owner.
You need conveyancing because, quite simply, you can’t buy a property without it! Conveyancing is needed on all types of housing transaction – buying, selling and remortgaging – and while it may technically be possible to do everything yourself, the legal and administrative complexity involved means that, unless you’re an expert, you should really leave it to the professionals.
Then there’s the fact that most mortgage lenders will require you to instruct a solicitor, and with good reason. The whole process is designed to ensure that the buyer secures the title to the property, together with all the rights that accompany it, ensuring that they’re notified of any restrictions ahead of the purchase. Problems that could arise include property boundary issues, improperly registered paperwork and even potential fraud, so having an expert on your side in such cases can be vital.
Remortgaging is the process of paying off your mortgage with the proceeds of another mortgage, secured against the same property. You will need a conveyancer to complete all associated legal requirements and ensure your transaction completes successfully, including liaising with your existing and new mortgage lenders.
To buy the new property, you’ll need to provide proof of funds and/or the mortgage offer, together with two forms of identification to show proof of identity and your current address.
To sell your current property, you’ll need the identification documents again, together with property title deeds (though these tend to be digital), TA10 fittings and contents form, TA6 property information form, any additional documents referenced in the property information form (such as building regulations, boiler service records and guarantees for new appliances), warranties (if the house is less than 10 years old) and an energy performance certificate (EPC). If the property is leasehold you’ll also need the Management Information Pack and a copy of the lease.
Many of these forms will be provided for you to fill in, and remember to keep track of insurance and survey documents too.
If your purchase transaction falls through, through no fault of your own, you will not be required to pay any legal fees, excluding any completed searches at that point.
Allows you to budget upfront, with no nasty surprises along the way, based on known property information such as jurisdiction, property use and tenure. Also includes Stamp Duty where relevant.
The length of the process varies between each case. The average time can be around six to eight weeks to completion, however this depends on multiple factors including the complexity of the case and the number of transactions in the property chain. The shorter the chain, the quicker the transaction can be, but there’s no guarantee.
Searches are a key part of the conveyancing process, and typically take two to three weeks to complete (though local authority searches can take longer depending on the area). However, bear in mind that the results of a search may prompt your conveyancer to make additional enquiries, which could add to the overall time taken.
To avoid the risk and cost of owning two houses at once, people usually elect to buy and sell simultaneously. A number of linked transactions therefore arise, each dependent on the other, and exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously in all transactions; this is known as the chain, and means that the speed of progress is dictated by the slowest link in that chain.
Once contracts are exchanged a legally binding agreement arises and neither party can back out. At this point, the new property is yours. Until that point either party may withdraw from the transaction.
Disclaimer: This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.