Solicitors & conveyancing
Finding the right Solicitor or Conveyancer for you
Whether you’re buying, selling, or refinancing, you need a conveyancer to oversee all the legal requirements and ensure everything progresses to successful completion.
In the current world of DIY tutorials for everything on YouTube, it is possible for you to learn how to complete the conveyancing yourself, however, this decision should not be taken lightly, as it is a complex process requiring a considerable amount of work. It is also worth noting that mortgage providers and insurers almost always require that you engage the services of a qualified professional third party, to process the transaction of a property sale.
We can introduce you to a solicitor or conveyancer that is suitable for your circumstances.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal steps that are taken to transfer the ownership of a property from one party to another. This is the process that everyone has to go through to buy or sell residential property. Your conveyancer is the person that helps you through this process and can be any legally qualified person, normally a solicitor or a specialist property conveyancing firm. Conveyancers are solicitors who focus on property law and are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) in England and Wales. They can sometimes provide the service cheaper than a solicitor, but a licensed conveyancer can only deal with conveyancing. If any problems arise that do not relate to property law, you would have to call in a solicitor and this may be more complicated than if you had a ‘full service’ solicitor firm.
What is a draft contract?
You can apply for a mortgage before putting an offer in on a property. Based on the information you gave your mortgage lender, they will evaluate how much they are willing to lend you. This will provide you with an ‘offer in principle’. Before your lender will provide you with a formal mortgage offer, you will need a survey carried out by a qualified surveyor, to ensure the property has been accurately valued. A survey is also important for you to understand the structural state of the building, any limitations on how the property can be used and other aspects that could affect its suitability for being your next home or investment. There are three types of survey and the most basic is a valuation survey. This is fine if you are refinancing or buying a new build. It provides an indication of the property's value, however it doesn't look at whether the building is structurally sound and will not highlight any potential issues. In most instances, it is advisable to pay for a more in-depth survey. The most popular type of survey is a homebuyer's report. This will look at the general state of the building, its roof, and its windows. It will also highlight any problems such as signs of subsidence. Some problems can still go undetected i.e. the surveyor won’t remove anything to inspect, such as lifting the floorboards. If you’re buying an older property or a property that you plan on renovating, it is advisable to have a full structural survey completed. While this will cost more than a homebuyer’s report, it is far more comprehensive and needs additional work and it will give you the most detail about the state of the property you’re looking to purchase.
What is the exchange of contracts?
When the buyer and seller are satisfied with the terms of the contract, they sign and exchange the contracts. At this point the transaction is now legally binding, so there is no going back without considerable financial implications and this is why it is important to engage the services of a quality solicitor or conveyancer that can protect your interests. The buyer will normally pay a deposit on exchange and is now responsible for insuring the property they are purchasing.
When is your completion day?
Completion day is the final stage of the conveyancing process. You can exchange and complete within a matter of hours, but most people prefer to leave 7 to 28 days for any final checks to be carried out. Once everything has been verified as okay, the balance of the purchase price can be paid. It can be a nervous wait on completion day because you need to wait for your mortgage lender to transfer the money to the seller's bank account. This can take several hours to appear. Once the funds are in the seller’s account, the property is yours and you can collect the key (normally from the sellers estate agent) and move in. Your conveyancer will then register ownership with Land Registry and arrange for you to pay any stamp duty that’s owed to HMRC.
What is important when choosing a conveyancer?
Familiarity with your local area will provide considerable advantage in some situations and can be more efficient for communication. Consider the track record and either base this on trusted professional recommendations or the recommendations of other customers through online comparison sites like Facebook, Trustpilot and Google. Discuss the cost before you formally instruct a conveyancer (and start incurring costs) as the charges will vary widely. If you have different estimated costs, ask what the is additional value that is being provided for this extra cost. As with any service, cheap does not necessarily mean good value. Make sure that you understand exactly how their fees work. Some firms do not charge if the sale falls through, which could save you hundreds of pounds in legal fees and allow you to move quickly on the purchase of an alternative property. Our team at Resides Swindon has worked in the Swindon property market for over 22 years and we have been part of 100’s of property transactions. We only introduce firms that we have had personal experience of and we fully consider the circumstances of our clients before we introduce a firm that we believe could be suitable. You must carry out your own due diligence to ensure that your conveyancer can meet your individual requirements and will protect your property transaction.
How long does conveyancing take?
The length of the process varies massively according to how busy the national market, is or sudden surges in demand caused by mortgage rate changes or other events. The average time seems to be around six to eight weeks to completion. Do consider that this will be directly affected by the complexity of the transaction, the number of related property transactions (i.e. the length of the chain) and other factors such as probate. At Resides Swindon we work with all of the parties to understand the chain and complexity of the transaction and will encourage proactive action to eliminate issues and move the process along as quickly as possible. Find out more about our sales progression service click here.
What are the disbursements and how much do they cost?
A disbursement is the name we give to a service that is ultimately charged to the fund that results from a property transaction. There are many different types of disbursements that may be necessary when buying or selling property: •Bankruptcy search - Your solicitor will check all named parties listed on the mortgage application to ensure that no one has been declared bankrupt (£2 to £4) •Drainage search - This will vary based on different water companies. It will make sure that the property is connected to a freshwater supply and to sewage systems (£30 to £40) •Environmental search - An environmental search looks at factors such as subsidence and ground contamination (£30 to £35) •Land registration fee - This is based on the value of your property (£40 to £910) •Land registry office copies - Your solicitor will complete searches to make sure the seller is the legal owner. This price is for one transaction (£4 to £8) •Local authority searches - This can be based on the borough that the property is in or the postcode. These searches determine factors like planning applications (£100 to £200) •Telegraphic transfer fee - This is the charge incurred by the bank to send the money to the seller (£25 to £45)
When will I need to pay a solicitor or conveyancer?
On average, money is spent in three stages when buying property or land: •Start of the transaction - You’ll be asked by your conveyancer to put up some money to pay for searches and surveys for the property you’re looking to purchase •The deposit - When it’s time to exchange contracts, you’ll be required to pay 10% of the purchase price. Once the contracts have been exchanged, you are then legally bound to complete the purchase on the day of completion •Completion - On the day of completion, you’ll be required to provide the rest of the funds.
Will I need to pay conveyancing fees if the house sale falls through?
If you instruct a solicitor or conveyancer who offers a no-sale, no-fee package, you’re unlikely to pay conveyancing fees should the sale fall through. That said, you may still have to cover other costs and fees, especially if any searches have already been carried out. If you’re unsure, make sure to carefully go through your conveyancer's terms and conditions before you instruct them so you will know what to expect if the property sale does not go according to plan.
Where can I get impartial advice on a property purchase or sale?
Citizens Advice offers impartial advice on most aspects of residential property selling and buying in the UK. The Citizens Advice guide to selling your home is here Citizens Advice guide