The Conveyancing Process – a general guide
Whilst every transaction is different, there are a number of crucial steps in the legal process that are common to each sale and purchase transaction and we have outlined these below by way of a general guide.
SELLING A PROPERTY
Once you have accepted an offer, the estate agents will issue a ‘memorandum of sale’ to the parties involved and their conveyancers, which provides each party with confirmation of the deal agreed, the other parties details and initiates the conveyancing process .
Sending the Contract Out
The first major step is for us as the seller’s conveyancer to send the contract pack out to the buyer’s conveyancer. We will ask you to complete a ‘Property Information Form’ and ‘Fittings and Contents’ form and request that you provide us with any relevant deeds and documents that you are holding, these include documents such as any planning and building regulation consents, or reports relating to the central heating and electrics. If the property is leasehold, you may also hold a copy of the original Lease. These are then sent to the buyer’s conveyancer and the next stage will be to deal with any enquiries/questions they raise. We endeavour to issue the contract and supporting paperwork as soon as possible as any long delay in issuing the contract will ultimately delay the conveyancing process.
At this stage, the buyer’s conveyancer will be reviewing the paperwork supplied and obtaining any searches required and will also send through a list of enquiries relating to the property. We will guide you through this process of dealing with the enquiries, rather than simply forwarding you a list of questions to be answered and will provide you with advice as to what information is required. This stage may be repeated a number of times, depending on whether the buyer and their conveyancers are happy with the responses supplied. Additional information may need to be obtained from the freeholder or managing agent when dealing with a leasehold property.
Exchange of Contracts
The next stage will be exchange of contracts. Once this has taken place, you are legally committed to sell the property to the buyer. In order to exchange contracts we will need to hold a contract signed by you and will need your authority to proceed which can be taken by email or phone. Once exchange has taken place, the completion date (i.e. the moving date) is fixed and should there be a delay in completing on this date, the party at fault may face financial penalties.
On the completion day, the money is transferred from the buyer’s conveyancer’s account to our account. Once the monies have been received, we will check if you are ready and the property is vacant, before contacting the estate agents to release the keys at which stage the buyer can then collect the keys and move in. We will also arrange to repay any mortgage secured on the property and pay the agreed commission amount to the estate agents.
BUYING A PROPERTY
Once the seller has accepted your offer, the estate agents will issue a memorandum of sale to the parties involved and their conveyancers, which provides each party with confirmation of the deal agreed, the other parties’ details and initiates the conveyancing process.
Following your offer being accepted you should deal with the following:-
Instruct your chosen solicitors or conveyancers.
Finance – you should finalise any arrangements, which if purchasing with the aid of mortgage finance, would include finalising your mortgage application.
Survey – We recommend that you obtain a survey before proceeding. It is your responsibility to satisfy yourself as a buyer regarding the structural condition of the property and that the price you have agreed to pay reflects the value. No warranty will be given the by the Seller as to the state and condition of the property.
Enquiries and reporting
The seller’s conveyancer will provide a draft contract and supporting documents, usually including title documents, property information forms and any relevant copy documents such as consents, guarantees and reports. Following receipt we will check the title of the property (which means the legal ownership and all legal matters which affect the property) and review the information supplied by the seller. At Macdonald Oates, your conveyancer will report to you at an early stage on all the paperwork received. This means that any potential legal problems can be assessed and resolutions sought at an early stage, minimising any unnecessary delays.
Property searches are enquiries that reveal information relating to the property you wish to purchase. We will obtain the searches on your behalf and they usually include a local authority search, water and drainage search, environmental search and a chancel check.
Exchange of Contracts
By this stage we will have reported to you on the title to the property, the information and replies provided by the seller and on the results of any searches obtained. It is important that you are certain that you wish to go ahead with the purchase of the property as once contracts are exchanged, the completion date will be fixed and you will be legally bound to proceed with the purchase of the property. If you pull out after exchange, you will usually lose the deposit that you have paid on exchange. Before exchange of contracts takes place, the following should also be dealt with or considered:-
• If purchasing with a mortgage you will need to have your mortgage offer in writing.
• You will have agreed and checked what is included in the sale, e.g. fixtures and fittings and have agreed this in writing.
• Arranged to forward to us the deposit amount and checked that all funds are in place for the purchase.
• Signed and returned the contract for sale.
• To have agreed a completion date for the purchase with both the seller and the rest of the chain, if applicable.
• Organised buildings insurance to be put in place from the date of exchange.
This is the date you will be able to move into your new property. Prior to completion, you will need to transfer to us any funds required to complete and if you are purchasing with a mortgage, we will obtain the loan from your lender. On the completion day we will arrange for the money to be transferred to the seller’s solicitors and once received they will confirm receipt and authorise the estate agents (if any) to provide you with the keys so that you can move into the property.
Other matters to consider, both shortly before and after completion are:-
• Check the position of any meters at the property and that all fixtures and fittings are in place as expected.
• Take meter readings upon moving into the property and ensure that you register with, amongst others, the utility companies, water supplier and local authority.
• Confirm your change of address to people such as your employers, bank, DVLA, mobile phone company etc.
Both selling and buying a property can be a daunting process and purchasing a property usually involves one of the largest financial commitments you are likely to make throughout your life. It is therefore important to ensure that you are appointing solicitors/conveyancers who can guide you through the transaction and deal with it both diligently and efficiently, otherwise significant delays may be experienced. With a purchase, guidance should include advising you on the title of the property, information provided by the Seller along with advising as to any potential issues or risks that may need to be considered in relation to the purchase. At Macdonald Oates LLP client service is of the upmost importance to us and every property transaction is dealt with personally by either an experienced qualified Solicitor or Legal Executive who will be your main contact throughout the transaction, from start to finish.
N.B. Please note that the above information is a general guide only and does not constitute legal advice. We recommend seeking specialist legal advice on your own particular circumstances.