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5 Mar 2019

Conveyancing – why it’s the pathway to home-ownership

Author: Grace Watson

Buying a home – especially if it’s your first – is an exciting time! Despite the excitement, there’s plenty of hurdles to overcome before you eventually collect your keys, though. Here, we explain the process you’ll go through before unlocking the door to your new home.

Step 1: Instruct a conveyancer

‘Conveyancing’ is the term for the legal process of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another. You need legal expertise from either a solicitor or a licenced conveyancer to do this – it’s not something many people are able to do on their own, especially if you’re buying with a mortgage. A conveyancer’s job is to take ownership of the legal aspects of your home move and make sure the new property legally becomes yours.

Step 2: Consider getting a mortgage

Conveyancers help look at the legal title, Land Registry plans and obtain searches to identify any problems that might come up, such as the risk of flooding, or future subsidence that may affect your property. Surveyors look at the physical property – the actual building and problems it may have, such as damp or structural problems. The older the property, the more likely you’ll want a surveyor to look at it. If the surveyor notices something serious, you may be able to use it to negotiate a lower price.


Step 3: Choose your searches

Property searches give information about the property you’re buying, such as checking if it could be at risk of flooding. They can also give other local information, like any developments planned to be built nearby, or whether the property is built on contaminated land. Your conveyancer is likely to recommend a package of searches, but you may want extras to give you more assurance before proceeding. Your mortgage provider might insist on some searches being carried out, for example, if the home you’re buying is in an area where coal mining has taken place.

Step 4: Title and lease checks

This is where the legal expertise really begins to be needed – your solicitor will look at the title of the property you’re buying and, if it’s a flat, they’ll look at the lease/ if you’re buying through a shared ownership scheme, there will be further agreement to be checked around that as well. The solicitor’s job is to act in your interests and to look for anything that could cause concern – such as a lack of clarity over a boundary, conditions in the lease that mean you have to pay more money than you think, or restrictions that mean you can’t do something you want – such as keeping a pet in the property.

Step 5: Questions

Once your legal expert has checked the key information, they may have extra questions for the person you’re buying a home from, or their conveyancer. Thankfully, nowadays there are standardised forms for areas such as fixtures and fittings, which confirm what will (or won’t) be included with the property you’re buying. These forms helps to make the process smoother. Delays can happen when dealing with any questions, because you’re reliant on the seller and their solicitor getting back with answers quickly. And, of course, if the answers aren’t what you want, it can mean further negotiation might be needed.

Step 6: Contracts

The next step is that you will sign the contracts that have been checked by your conveyancer on your behalf. You should receive a full explanation of the contract details, and all matters relating to the title deeds and the property that you need to be aware of, before proceeding. Once you have signed the contract, provided your mortgage offer has come through, you’ll be able to get to the crucial part of exchanging contracts.

Part 7: Exchange

This is the point where a cash deposit is paid and the purchase is legally binding – signed contracts are exchanged and, after this, neither buyer nor seller can pull out of the transaction without potential legal action being taken. When this point is reached, there is a confirmed date when you’ll be able to move in, so you can start to plan the actual moving day.

Part 8: Completion

Otherwise known as ‘move in day’ – this is the point where the final balance is paid (usually mortgage funds are released from your bank or mortgage provider to the previous home owners) and your new home is finally yours. The day of completion can be a long one for solicitors, especially if you’re buying as part of a long chain. Each home’s completion needs to take place one after another, as the money passes up the chain. When this is done, you can collect the keys from the estate agents and move in!


Step 9: Solicitors

For you, the process effectively ends at completion, but your solicitors still need to complete some other tasks on your behalf. The first could be paying SDLT (Stamp Duty & Land Tax) if you are eligible, which has to be paid within 30 days for every property that costs more than £125,000. This is something you shouldn’t need to worry about, as your solicitor will complete it for you.

Step 10: Registering the Title

The owner of every property in the country is logged at the Land Registry and your legal expert will sort this out for you, making sure the title is changed from the previous owner to you. It’s not something g you8 need to worry about and is completed after you move in. you should expect to receive a copy of the deeds, showing you as the new owner of the home, within a few weeks of completion.

If you’re considering moving in 2019, contact your local Romans branch, or call 01344 985 666 to discuss your property requirements.

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The service was excellent throughout the process and made moving a simple and enjoyable experience " R. Swiatek