What Is Conveyancing?

What Is Conveyancing?
Home Blog What Is Conveyancing?
Mike Whitehead

Author: Mike Whitehead

Content Editor

Updated: April 9, 2024

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from one party to another, a critical component of buying or selling a house in the UK.

It encompasses a range of tasks including conducting property searches, handling contracts, managing the exchange of funds, and ensuring that the transaction complies with legal standards. This process ensures both buyer and seller meet their obligations and that the transfer of property is legally sound and binding.

Given its complexity and the legal intricacies involved, conveyancing is typically carried out by solicitors or licensed conveyancers who specialize in property law. For buyers and sellers alike, understanding the conveyancing process is crucial to navigating the property market successfully.

It not only provides a roadmap of what to expect during a property transaction but highlights the importance of professional guidance in securing a smooth and efficient transfer of ownership.

Conveyancing: in a nutshell

A conveyancer is a specialised property solicitor. The act of conveyancing is ensuring the legal transfer of a property from one party to another. Conveyancers are required by both parties to make sure their legal interests are looked after.

A buyer’s conveyancer will arrange for them to take control of the title deeds. So, their key task is to ensure the buyer legally becomes the owner of the property and its land, when contracts have been signed and funds have been deposited on completion day.

On the seller’s side, their conveyancer will make certain the proceeds of the sale are all deposited correctly upon exchange and completion.

The general tasks a conveyancer will carry out as part of the purchase and sale process include (but are not limited to):

Instructing searches

Instructing searches is a vital step in the conveyancing process, involving inquiries to local authorities and utility firms about any past, present, or future issues that might affect the property. These searches can uncover a range of potential problems, from planning permissions and local land charges to environmental hazards and drainage issues.

The goal is to ensure the buyer is fully aware of any factors that could impact the property’s value or usability, providing a layer of protection and peace of mind.

The results of these searches can significantly influence the decision-making process. If issues are identified, they can lead to further negotiations on the price, demand repairs, or even cause the buyer to reconsider the purchase.

It’s a crucial step that requires meticulous attention to detail and an understanding of how various findings could affect the property transaction. Conveyancers play a key role in interpreting search results and advising clients accordingly.

Draft, agree and check Contracts

Drafting, agreeing, and checking contracts are central to the conveyancing process, where the legal framework for the property transaction is established. The contract outlines the terms of the sale, including the price, property boundaries, fixtures and fittings included, and any other conditions agreed upon by the buyer and seller.

This phase requires careful coordination and negotiation skills to ensure that both parties’ interests are fairly represented and protected.

Once drafted, both sides must thoroughly review and agree upon the contract details before proceeding. This includes a meticulous check for accuracy and completeness to avoid future disputes.

The conveyancer’s role is crucial at this stage, ensuring the contract is legally sound, all agreements are correctly documented, and any potential issues are addressed before the exchange of contracts takes place, solidifying the commitment to the transaction.

Communicating with mortgage lenders

Effective communication with mortgage lenders is another critical aspect of the conveyancing process. Conveyancers act as intermediaries between the buyer and the lender, ensuring that all legal requirements set by the lender are met before funds are released.

This includes confirming the property’s value, ensuring the mortgage offer matches the buyer’s expectations and the property’s purchase price, and addressing any special conditions stipulated by the lender.

This communication must be precise and timely, as delays or discrepancies can lead to significant setbacks in the transaction timeline.

The conveyancer’s expertise in navigating the legal aspects of mortgage agreements ensures that the buyer is in a strong position to proceed, and the lender’s interests are also protected, facilitating a smoother path to completing the property purchase.

Stamp duty payments

Handling stamp duty payments is an essential function of the conveyancing process in property transactions. Stamp Duty is due on properties purchased over a certain price threshold, with rates varying based on the property value and buyer’s circumstances, such as first-time homebuyers receiving certain exemptions.

Conveyancers calculate the correct amount of stamp duty owed, advise their clients on any applicable reliefs or exemptions, and ensure timely payment to avoid penalties.

The conveyancer’s role includes submitting the stamp duty return and making payment on behalf of the buyer, typically within 14 days of the transaction completion.

This task requires a thorough understanding of the latest stamp duty regulations and meticulous attention to detail to ensure accurate calculation and compliance, reflecting the conveyancer’s critical role in managing legal and financial obligations in property transactions.

Land registry transfers

The final step in the conveyancing process involves the transfer of land registry documents, officially recording the change of ownership. This step is pivotal as it legally recognizes the buyer as the new property owner.

Conveyancers prepare and submit the transfer documents to the Land Registry, along with any relevant supporting documents required for the registration process. This includes ensuring that all details are accurately reflected, such as the property description and the buyer’s information.

The conveyancer also handles any issues that may arise during the registration process, such as discrepancies in the property’s title or boundaries. Once the registration is complete, the buyer is issued a new title deed, marking the official completion of the property transaction.

This stage underscores the importance of a conveyancer’s role in ensuring that the legal transition of property ownership is executed correctly and efficiently, finalizing the property transaction.

This list is far from exhaustive and often a conveyancer will be required to do far more – such as confirming the source of a deposit or arranging purchases through a special government scheme, such as Help To Buy, for example.

Why do you need conveyancing?

It’s a legal requirement if you want to buy a house. And whilst, technically speaking, it’s possible to carry out the work yourself, most (if not all) mortgage providers will require you to instruct a fully qualified conveyancer. They do so to lower the risk – for both you and your lender – that no mistakes are made during the purchase

An experienced conveyancer can help highlight any issues with a property that perhaps you might miss before you buy it. For example, their searches may identify past or potential issues with subsidence or any boundary disputes that your would-be property is involved in.

How much does conveyancing cost?

There is no single answer to this. The fees you are charged will not necessarily be dependent on the purchase price of the property. The legal work required and the effort involved could be the same for a multi-million-pound property as with a starter home.

Instead, conveyancers all charge or structure their fees differently and every house sale is different too. The costs of conveyancing can therefore vary dramatically – irrespective of the purchase price.

The more complex your house sale, the more your conveyancing fees are likely to cost. Your conveyancer will require payment for the time they have put into your property purchase, so the more involvement needed from them, the more you will have to pay. They will charge for services such as searches, any calls they have to make, any documentation they have to draw up or for Land Registry administration.

How to choose a conveyancer

Given the importance of conveyancing and the subsequent costs, it is vital to know how to choose the right one for your needs.

Before instructing a conveyancer, therefore, it is a good idea to:

You can do this easily online by looking at past reviews or any ratings they have received on various comparison websites.

Finding a conveyancer is therefore tricky at times. The brokers we work with can help with appointing one they know to be of high quality and reliable.

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