9 July 2017
We have put together a step by step general guide to the conveyancing process for buyers, which we hope you will find helpful:
1. You should inform your solicitor that you would like them to assist you with the purchase and let the estate agent know which solicitor you have instructed. You will then receive an initial letter from that solicitor which confirms your instructions and outlines their terms of business. You will need to sign the solicitor’s terms of business and produce your identity documentation. Your solicitor will require money on account to cover the cost of searches which your lender (if you have one) requires are done before they release mortgage monies. If you are not having a lender, your solicitor will usually advise that you obtain the usual searches in any event. Your solicitor will write to the seller’s solicitor, confirming instructions and requesting the contract pack. If you are purchasing a property with someone else, your solicitor will give you advice and ask you to complete forms with your instructions as to how you would like the property to be held i.e. joint tenants or tenants in common. Your solicitor will also ask you to provide them with proof of funds so that they can ensure that you have the required amount of money to purchase the property.
You should let your solicitor know at the outset if you are also selling a property.
2. Once your solicitor receives the contract pack, they will then be able to submit the searches (the solicitor requires the property plan provided by the seller to submit the searches). Your solicitor will examine the contract pack and raise any required questions with the seller about the property. Your solicitor will ask you to read through the forms provided by the seller and raise any concerns you may have so that your solicitor can address them. As your solicitor receives the search results, your solicitor will report to you the results and ask you to read the search report and highlight any concerns you might have.
Your solicitor will also review your mortgage paperwork (if you are having a mortgage) and report to you any important conditions.
Once your solicitor has made all necessary enquiries and you are satisfied with the responses, the next stage is for each party to review and sign the contract and other relevant documents. You will also be asked to sign the mortgage deed (if you are having a mortgage) and approve the Stamp Duty Land Tax return. Your solicitor will prepare a completion statement which shows how much money you are required to pay ahead of exchange of contracts. You will be asked to agree a “completion date” with the seller. Your solicitor will ask you to make arrangements to insure the property effective from the date of the exchange of contracts.
3. Once a completion date is decided, you will be required to pay your solicitor the costs of the purchase as detailed on the completion statement. Once the solicitor has the purchase monies in cleared funds in their client account, they will be able to proceed to exchange of contracts. The exchange of contracts is a process where each solicitor obtains their clients express authority to “exchange contracts.” Your solicitor will call the seller’s solicitor (or vice versa) and confirm that they are holding a signed contract and they will run through the details and confirm contracts are exchanged. Your solicitor will then send your signed contract to the seller’s solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will send their clients signed contract your solicitor in the post. Your solicitor will send over the deposit to the seller’s solicitor on exchange of contacts. Once contracts have been exchanged, you will be legally bound to buy the property and the seller will be legally bound to sell it. If either party withdraws from the transaction after exchange of contracts, the other party will be entitled to claim compensation.
4. After exchange of contracts, your solicitor will advise you of the necessary steps you must take to get ready for completion. Your solicitor will also make arrangements to receive the mortgage advance from your lender in time for completion (if you are having a mortgage).
5. On the day of completion, your solicitor will send over the purchase monies to the seller’s solicitor and wait for confirmation of receipt. Once the seller’s solicitor has received the funds, they will make arrangements to authorise the release of the keys to the property. It is typically the case that you will collect the keys from the estate agent but other arrangements can be made. Your solicitor will submit the Stamp Duty Land Tax return and settle the tax payable, settle their account and the search provider's account. Usually on the first working day after completion, your solicitor should receive the title deeds from the seller's solicitor. Your solicitor will then make the necessary arrangements to register you as the owner of the property at the Land Registry.