CONVEYANCING is the name given to the transfer of land (and buildings on it) from one person to another. There are four fundamental stages:
Once an offer is accepted by a Seller, the Buyer will commence the necessary investigations to ensure that the property is safe to buy. For example:
The Buyer will:
- Arrange for finance to be available whether from their own resources or from a loan (mortgage);
- Have a survey done to ensure the property is safe to buy and to invest thousands of pounds;
- Ensure they have instructed their solicitor;
- When he is ready to proceed and is advised of such by his solicitor, the Buyer will agree with the Seller a mutually acceptable completion date. This is the date when the Seller must have moved-out and the Buyer may move-in.
The Buyer’s solicitor will:
- Arrange for the usual searches to be made;
- Check title;
- Raise pre-contract enquiries of the Seller about the property and its title;
- Check that the Contract is appropriate and in reasonable terms;
- Report to the Buyer on findings and advise about how to proceed.
When the Buyer is content with the pre-contract findings, he will pay a deposit (typically 10%) to his solicitor and sign the contract. However, no contract will exist until his signed contract is exchanged with an identical contract signed by the Seller. Exchange will take place by telephone between the solicitors acting for the Seller and Buyer. At this point a legally binding contract will exist. Neither Seller nor Buyer can withdraw without serious legal consequences unless they mutually agree to end the contract and do it in the appropriate legal manner.
The Buyer will put insurance in place at exchange so the property is on cover. If it were to burn-down between exchange and completion then the Buyer still has to proceed and buy it.
There is usually a gap of a couple of weeks between exchange and completion. In that time the money from the Buyer and the mortgage is delivered to the Buyer’s solicitor in readiness to pay-over the balance due to the Seller’s solicitor, as soon as possible on the completion day.
The Transfer Deed which legally transfers title from the Seller to the Buyer (once registered at the Land Registry) will be signed and, in exchange for the money, will be given to the Buyer’s solicitor.
Once completion has taken place, the Buyer can move-in.
The Buyer’s solicitor will complete the Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and pay the duty to HMRC. HMRC issue a receipt and the solicitor then makes an application to the Land Registry for the Buyer to be recorded as the new owner and for the mortgage lender to be registered as proprietor of a Legal Charge.
There is no standard time for the conveyancing transaction as there are too many factors which cause variables. Chains where there are many people buying and selling a connected series of properties can be a challenge when dealing with time-scales and can cause frustration. But rough estimates are about six to seven weeks to exchange and two to three weeks after to complete.
The above is a simple out-line of the phases within conveyancing. In reality there is much more detail. Some transactions can proceed quickly and simply. Others can take some time. If there is a particular hitch, whether caused by some legal complexity or the wants and desires of the various sellers and buyers in a chain, your solicitor should be able to assist you.