Understanding conveyancing: how a solicitor adds value

There is a lot of information on the process of buying or selling your house, however, sometimes the information is oversimplified, and/or over complicated. Here we try and simplify the process for you, while still keeping some of the core information that you would need, especially highlighting why sometimes it is better to have a specialist to help guide the process.

Moving home couldn’t be simpler, with the right help:

  • Step 1 - offer and acceptance
  • Step 2 - exchange of contract
  • Step 3 - completion of transfer

The government website offers a simple guide which outlines the basic steps (summarised above) to be taken when buying or selling a house. According to the guide, within three months of accepting an offer a buyer can move into their new home. If only it was always that simple. There is a lot that happens before an offer of sale can be made and after a property is transferred to its new owner. However, moving home need not be stressful if you have the right solicitor to help make the transfer of a property as smooth and quick as possible.

The conveyancing process

Conveyancing is a diverse process that rests on the foundations of land law, contract law and in some cases equity and trusts law. It involves the transferring of ownership and/or a right to a property from one party to another. It also involves the preparation, exchanging and negotiating (not to mention painful scrutinising) of a number of key documents such as the all-important contract for sale. This is why the process isn’t as simple as outlined on the government website.

Whether you are buying or selling your home, your solicitor will act on your behalf to complete the conveyancing transaction, which will include:

Step  Process Responsibilty
1 Preparation and issuing of the home information pack and draft contract Seller
2 Pre-contract searches and enquiries Buyer
3 Preparation and issuing of the title deeds Seller
4 Investigation of the title deeds and approval of draft contract Buyer
5 Exchange of contracts Both
6 Preparation for completion e.g. obtaining mortgage redemption figure or applying for a mortgage Both
7 Preparation and issuing of the purchase deed Buyer
8 Approval of the purchase deed Seller
9 Pre-completion searches Buyer
10 Completion of the transfer Both
11 Post-completion procedures e.g. paying off a mortgage or land and mortgage registration Both


Ensuring a smooth transaction

At the heart of any conveyancing transaction is the contract for sale but what makes it so important? In a nutshell, without a valid contract there is no deal. The contract outlines the terms of the agreement and is legally binding. As soon as there has been an exchange of a valid contract, as a buyer you gain ownership of the property (in equity) but as the seller you retain legal ownership as a trustee until the full purchase price is paid. What this means, is that as a seller you have a duty to look after the property until completion and as a buyer you usually bear the risk of any loss or damage in the interim. The upside is that as the buyer you are entitled to any increase in the property value and can get insurance to cover you for any risk.

But who is responsible for the insurance? Your solicitor will advise you of the risks involved and should include in the contract that the risk remains with the seller until completion, along with a special condition that the seller insures the property for its full reinstatement value during that period. Needless to say, if you are the seller, your solicitor will negotiate against this on your behalf and should request an indemnity covenant from the buyer to protect you from any future liability once the property has been transferred.

Choosing the right solicitor can be difficult but to help you make the right choice we recommend that you look for value for money, good quality, accessibility, convenience and choice. If you are looking for a conveyancing expert to help you with the sale or purchase of your home, why not contact us for more advice?  

We will take care of the legal aspects of moving house within clear timescales and with same-day responses. With us there is no need to worry about hidden costs. Search for your nearest QualitySolicitors today and find out how else we can help to make moving home easier for you.

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