While you may instantly fall in love with a house and decide to buy it, there are numerous small details involved with what is in reality a legal transaction, before you are handed the keys and move in.
Some buyers might even ask the question is conveyancing necessary? The answer is a definite yes.
Conveyancing is actually a vital part of the house buying process and involves the transference of ownership to another person, but only once all the relevant checks have been made and questions answered satisfactorily.
Who does the conveyancing?
In theory, you could actually do the conveyancing yourself but with so many legal technicalities and potential pitfalls to navigate before you are ready to proceed with the purchase, it is not something you should really consider doing just to try and save some money.
Most buyers will use either a licenced conveyancer or a solicitor who specialises in conveyancing. You will probably find that if you are buying through an estate agent, they may well recommend a firm to you. They will probably be perfectly acceptable but may not be the cheapest option as there will probably be a commission involved, so shop around for the best price and service that you can find.
The first task for the conveyancer that you appoint is to produce a draft contract and terms of engagement with you, which will provide details of their proposed charges in writing and how much deposit you will be required to pay.
The conveyancer will also write to the appointed solicitor acting for the seller to confirm their instruction and ask for a copy of the draft contract together with basic information such as the property’s title to help get the process underway.
Enquiries and searches
There are a number of searches and enquiries to raise that will probably take a few weeks to resolve and gather all the information together that is needed.
Your conveyancer will primarily examine the draft contract they receive from the seller’s solicitor and raise any enquiries that they have from the details provided. This may include checking details relating to the tenure of your proposed purchase, to clarify if it is freehold or leasehold.
If the property you want to buy is leasehold, this will normally involve some extra enquiries to confirm how long is left on the lease, especially as a short lease remaining is not an attractive proposition.
There are also local authority searches to carry out, which you have to pay for. These searches will reveal any proposed developments near your purchase property that could affect its value such as an application for a large development or even a new road that is being proposed.
In addition to the local authority searches, your conveyancer will also carry out some essential legal property searches in order to confirm that there are no detrimental issues that you need to be aware of.
They will check the title register of the property to confirm if the person selling is the legal owner, and they will also carry out water authority searches to reveal how water is supplied to your property, where the public drains are located.
Checking for flood risks is another search that is often required and in certain parts of the UK, there are specific additional enquiries required, such as Radon gas searches in Somerset and Tin Mine searches in Cornwall.
Another key role of your conveyancer is to liaise with your mortgage lender and confirm to them that their proposed security against the loan will actioned after they have answered all the relevant queries.
Your conveyancer will receive a copy of the mortgage offer from your lender and they will confirm to them when the anticipated exchange and completion date is, so that they can arrange to send the mortgage monies to them in time for the completion date, once it has been set.
Once all the enquiries have been answered and all the searches are satisfactorily returned and checked, your conveyancer will propose a date to exchange contracts and a completion date when the property will become yours.
The exchange of contracts is a legal commitment to buy the property and will involve you paying an agreed deposit which is normally 10%, and you will not get this back if you subsequently do not go ahead with the purchase after exchanging.
Buying your home is in theory a relatively simple process that involves a number of checks and searches to ensure everything is in order. In reality, it can become quite complicated and any vital details missed could spell disaster somewhere down the line.
This is why a conveyancer is an integral part of buying a house.
Edward Cross is a property investor and consultant. He has been building up his investment portfolio over the last decade and a half which now consists of 24 residential properties and 2 commercial properties. He enjoys sharing his property investment insights online.