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What is conveyancing? A step-by-step guide

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What is conveyancing? A step-by-step guide
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When the time comes to sell your property, you need to give significant consideration to the conveyancing process. Although it may not be the most exciting aspect of selling your house, it is arguably the most important.

Your conveyancer deals with the legal complications of selling your house. Whilst you aren’t legally required to hire a conveyancer, it is strongly recommended you do, unless you have the legal understanding to complete it yourself.

The conveyancing process has several stages – and it is important that you understand as much of this process as possible. 

What is conveyancing

Conveyancing is carried out by a licensed conveyancer or solicitor, and it involves the transfer of a property from one person to another. This transaction typically consists of three stages:

  1. Pre-Contract
  2. Pre-Completion
  3. Post-Completion

Typically, a solicitor will do everything necessary and ensure you are prepared for the critical dates during the process. They are also in regular contact with the other parties’ lawyers, dealing with the difficult issues.

Of course, you can fill out all the forms yourself, and save money on conveyancing fees. But this is not recommended, as making sure everything is done properly is extremely difficult without prior experience. Also, if something goes wrong, you run the risk of losing the property and forfeiting your deposit.

If you enlist the expertise of a solicitor and they make a mistake, you will be covered by their professional indemnity insurance (although, of course, we hope this doesn’t happen).

Everything involved in the conveyancing process

Once an offer has been accepted, you should instruct your chosen conveyancer. They can send you the paperwork in advance, so you can get ready. There will be a lot of documents you need to provide, and some of these may take a lot of time to gather/obtain. 

Some of the tasks your solicitor will carry out for you in the conveyancing process include:

  • Preparing and clarifying legal documents
  • Researching about the property and the certificate of title (such as checking for easements, the type of title, and any other information that needs addressing)
  • Calculating the adjustments of rates and taxes
  • Taking care of the settlement on your behalf

Your conveyancer will represent your interests with the vendor or your agent and will complete all legal documents required. 

While you are waiting on your survey and mortgage offer, the buyer’s conveyancer will contact the seller’s conveyancer to obtain the contract pack. The buyer’s conveyancer will check the contract pack, raise any pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer, lender or any other parties. They will also carry out the necessary searches.

Searches completed by the conveyancer

Searches consist of a variety of investigations into various matters that can affect the property. These include:

  • Local authority searches – checking matters such as planning and highways
  • Water and drainage – to determine who supplies, owns and maintains the water and drainage supplies
  • Environmental searches – covers matters such as pollution, subsidence and contaminated land
  • Chancel searches – to check for chancel liability

Conveyancers will also carry out a bankruptcy search on the buyers. If there has been a bankruptcy, then this isn’t an issue as long as your lender is aware of it. 

What is “Dual Representation”?

Conveyancers can act for both you and the lender, on what is called a dual representation basis. Although this may seem like a conflict of interest, this is the most traditional conveyancing route. They are equally liable to both parties however, and will report to both with full disclosure. 

When you pay for your conveyancer, you are also effectively paying for them to act for the lender, too. The lender will have in-house conveyancers or a legal team that will converse with your conveyancer.

What is “Sole Representation”?

Some conveyancers work on a sole representation basis – meaning that they only represent your lender, and not you. You will therefore need to provide your own conveyancer to act for you. 

This usually happens with ‘bridging lenders’ who prefer to have separate legal representation throughout the process. However, they will still stipulate certain requirements with regards to who acts for you, and often don’t allow use of a conveyancer – only a solicitor.

They may require that the firm has a minimum number of partners, and that they belong to a certain regulatory body. You will be expected to meet the costs of both conveyancers.

Some lenders will allow sole representation basis, even where they have provided a dual representation panel of conveyancers, where you prefer to use your own. This may be because you already trust your conveyancer, they have already done a lot of work for you, or there are complex circumstances. A divorce or dealing with an estate or probate would be good examples of that. If the lender allows this, you will be expected to meet the costs of both conveyancers. 

Some commercial lenders offer both sole representation or dual representation, using one of their chosen solicitors. In the case of dual representation, they will charge you, but you have to use the solicitor allocated by the lender (and there may only be a couple available). If you opt for sole representation, then you will still have to pay the lender’s solicitor, and then your conveyancer on top.

It is probably best to wait until your mortgage application has been submitted before appointing a conveyancer. Check with your mortgage broker or lender that your chosen conveyancer is permitted to act for you.

How long does the conveyancing process take?

In the UK, the conveyancing process usually takes 8 – 12 weeks, however there are things which can affect this.

For example, if you are in a long property chain, then everyone has to get their affairs in order to reach the completion date, which can mean that the conveyancing process may take longer than 12 weeks.

If you have lenders or mortgages you have to make sure your customer can comply with their requirements, in order to proceed with the transaction.

If it is a short chain (so, you only have one buyer or seller) – for example, with a cash house buyer – then the conveyancing process can be much shorter. At WeBuyAnyHome, we’ve been known to complete this process in less than 7 days.

It is up to the buyer whether they want to proceed without searches. They don’t have to do it, although they are putting themselves at risk, by not knowing everything possible about the property. So, if the buyer refuses to issue a request for searches, the conveyancing process can sometimes take place slightly quicker than 8 weeks.

Finally, some conveyancers can have very long backlogs of clients and cases, which means it will take longer for them to work for you. It is worth checking how quickly a conveyancer can act for you before you hire them, as this can impact how long it takes before the conveyancing process begins. 

To avoid the time consuming conveyancing process, many people sell their property to a cash house buyer like WeBuyAnyHome. We can purchase your property within days, rather than months, and therefore save you lots of time and hassle.

How much does conveyancing cost?

The conveyancer will typically ask for money up front, to ‘open the file’. This is often around £100 – £200 and represents your commitment to them. This fee enables them to swiftly start searches when ready.

Don’t expect your conveyancer to do any work for you until this fee is paid. The balance of their fees are usually paid at the end when you complete, and they will deduct it from any monies coming in from the lender, or you.

A conveyancer can charge for their services in three different ways:

  • Fixed fee
  • Hourly rate
  • Percentage of the property price

Try to get quotes from different firms on the cost of their service, and do not be afraid to negotiate the price. Make sure the quotes break down all the costs, including the searches, also allowing for VAT, so you are comparing like-for-like. They should also cover in their breakdown bank transfer fees, land registry fees, and stamp duty on fees, where applicable.

The average cost for a conveyancer in the UK (on either a residential purchase or a residential sale) is between £500 – £1000. In addition, you will have to pay legal costs, known as ‘disbursements’, which cover search fees, registration fees, documentation fees, land registry fees and CHAPS payment fees.

The CHAPS fees (transfer fees) are what you will be charged by the conveyancer, for transferring money to and from accounts. This typically costs in the region of £35. 

Most legal fees and disbursements will be plus VAT, which (at the time of writing this blog) will add an additional 20% to most of the items on your bill, except stamp duty.

You can avoid these conveyancing costs by using a cash house buyer like WeBuyAnyHome.

Avoid conveyancing costs with WeBuyAnyHome

WeBuyAnyHome is the UK’s leading home-buying company and one of the only genuine cash house buyers around. We can purchase your property in as little as 7 days – making it easy for you to ensure your sale and purchase go through at the same time. 

With us, you won’t have to go through the typically drawn-out legal processes, as we appoint you a solicitor from our independent panel who are skilled in dealing with quick property sales. You also will not have to pay for this conveyancing support – we will pay for you.

We are experts in selling houses fast, should you be needing a quick sale, speak to us today!

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