Buying or selling a property is likely to be one of the most important and complex transactions you will ever be involved in, and the process can be lengthy and stressful. Enlisting expert legal assistance is imperative, and a conveyancing solicitor can ensure that the transfer of ownership goes as smoothly as possible. Here is everything you need to know about the conveyancing timeline, including the steps involved and typical timescales.
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Once an offer has been accepted and you have instructed a solicitor, your legal team will conduct investigations into your property and the surrounding area. These include local authority searches and environmental and water agency searches, which can take between three and eight weeks. These independent checks are completed to confirm information or obtain additional information to that revealed by the title deeds review and replies to enquiries.
A property inspection is also required at this stage to identify any potential issues. If applicable, a formal valuation will need to be completed by a surveyor on behalf of your mortgage company. A survey or buyer’s report may also requested; the difference between the two is the level of detail involved in the property surveys.
Offer and Acceptance
This stage includes the drafting of the contract, which specifies the price, deposit, expected completion date and any other relevant terms and conditions. This is different to the final contract, as there are numerous variables that can shape the eventual agreement, such as the mortgage, boundary issues, or any other property defects.
Contract negotiations relating to any issues with the property and specifying any goods to be included in the sale price are conducted at this stage. In certain circumstances, the law does not allow a legal firm to do this, but in such a case, your solicitor will relay this information to you. The offer and acceptance process typically takes between six and eight weeks but depends on the complexity of the sale.
Pre-Exchange of Contracts
It is crucial that you are satisfied with every aspect of the contract and conduct your conclusive pre-exchange assessments concerning the feedback from your survey. Additionally, make certain that you have duly signed all pertinent documentation.
All and any legal concerns should be resolved before proceeding with the contract exchange, and any financing should be in place. Ensure that the mortgage approval has been received, if applicable, and that your deposit funds are in one place and easily accessible.
Exchange of Contracts
You have now reached the moment you have been waiting for – the exchange. The buyer’s and seller’s solicitor will exchange signed contracts, entering both parties into a legally binding agreement. The moving date is finalised now, and the deposit is paid to secure the property (the average deposit being 10% of the property price).
Typically, completion occurs one to two weeks after the exchange of contracts. However, sometimes parties agree to complete on the same day or even agree to wait a few months for completion.
Post-Exchange of Contracts
Once the contracts have been exchanged, most of the legal work is complete, but your solicitor has some final tasks. The buyer’s solicitor must liaise with the mortgage lender, if applicable, to ensure the funds can be transferred without delay when required, and both solicitors also prepare a final completion statement with matching financial information and conditions.
Pre-completion searches are last-minute checks on the buyer’s financial security to ensure that they can still afford to purchase the property, and include bankruptcy and land-charge searches. It is a good idea to start packing your belongings at this stage and finalising any removal arrangements as completion nears.
On completion day, both solicitors make final checks and then the buyer’s solicitor will transfer the money to the seller’s solicitor’s. Once the seller’s solicitor receives the funds, they will confirm completion with the buyer and release the keys from the estate agent, ensuring any final charges are paid, including the seller’s estate agent fees.
The legal transfer of ownership has now been completed. To ensure a smooth moving day, ensure that you have your paperwork in order and regularly converse with your conveyancing solicitor. If you are selling your property, lock all doors and windows and ensure you have taken all energy meter readings before leaving.
Following completion, the buyer’s solicitor will register the sale with the Land Registry, pay any stamp duty owed to HMRC, activate any indemnity policies and manage any tax returns. Currently, the chargeable consideration for stamp duty tax is £250,000; for properties under this value, no tax is paid.
The post-completion formalities differ slightly depending on whether a solicitor is acting for the buyer or seller, but these are managed entirely by your expert solicitor, leaving you to settle into your new home.
Tips for a Smooth Conveyancing Process Timeline
If you are thinking of buying or selling your home, instructing legal help should be the first thing you do, helping to prevent any issues down the line. The conveyancing process is complex and, although timescales can differ, typically takes around 12 - 16 weeks. It is, therefore, vital to be patient and have trust in your solicitor’s expertise and experience.
To prevent unnecessary delays, any necessary tasks should be completed by you in a timely manner, including ensuring your mortgage agreement is firmly in place if needed and paperwork returned as soon as possible. Your conveyancing solicitor should keep you updated at every step of the process and ensure that you understand each stage and its likely timescale. Hiring a specialist conveyancing solicitor is essential for a smooth exchange.
How can QualitySolicitors help?
At QualitySolicitors, our expert conveyancing solicitors understand how daunting a transfer of ownership can be and strive to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible for you. We offer a free initial telephone assessment, so you can rest assured you will not pay a penny unless you wish to proceed.
Moving forward, your solicitor will provide their contact details so that you can keep in close contact and will ensure that you are kept updated at every stage. With over nationwide locations, QualitySolicitors has national coverage of specialist help, and guarantees a same-day response, so you have a wealth of experience to choose from at the touch of a button. Complete our Contact Form or call us on 0808 304 7179 today for expert guidance.