Conveyancing is an essential part of the process of buying a property. Whether you’re a first time buyer, or you’re upgrading to a bigger home, you’ll need to ensure you have this covered. It’s best practice to work with a solicitor or a conveyancer to ensure that the conveyancing relating to your property is professionally and comprehensively completed. This is everything that you need to bear in mind during the process itself.
What Does the Cost of Conveyancing Include?
It’s essentially all of the legal and administrative work that is involved in transferring property ownership. Conveyancing starts when an offer on a property has been accepted and will continue through the purchasing process. For simple transactions (e.g. buying direct from a developer) it is often easier to use a conveyancer as they tend to be cheaper – you can check the credentials of a conveyancer with the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. The other option is a conveyancing solicitor – if your property purchase may have complications (such as an old property or one with planning issues) this can be the better choice. All solicitors must be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority. Conveyancing fees tend to vary but are usually somewhere within £300 – £1,100. This generally does not include disbursements such as:
- Local authority searches – £100 – £200
- Water and drainage search – (£30 – £40 + VAT)
- Land registry office copies – (£4 – £8)
- Land registration fee – (£20 – £910)
- Environmental search – (£30 – £35 + VAT)
The conveyancing fee won’t cover the cost of stamp duty, which is charged as a percentage of the overall property price. First time buyers are currently able to enjoy a stamp duty holiday on the first £300,000 of properties worth up to £500,000.
The Step by Step Process of Conveyancing
Most conveyancing takes between two and three months to complete. However, there can be significant delays depending on the results of searches or where complex negotiations are required. Generally this is the order of activity:
- Find a property that you like the look of and make an offer
- While you’re looking for properties research your options in terms of a conveyancing professional
- Make sure you already have the process of obtaining a mortgage under way before you make an offer on the property
- Instruct a conveyancing solicitor when it looks like your offer is going to be accepted
- At this stage you may need to commission a survey of the property – the type of survey you’ll need will depend on the age and condition of the property
- Your conveyancing solicitor will get in touch with that of the seller to obtain a copy of the contract pack. This will be analysed by your conveyancer who will also start the process of carrying out searches against the property. There may be negotiations involved in the process of handling the contract. You’ll need to read the contract carefully and make sure you’re happy with the results of the searches before signing the contract and returning it to your conveyancer to hold onto
- The process of exchange takes place when the signed contracts are passed to the solicitor/conveyancer acting for the other side and the deposit is paid to the seller’s solicitor
- Documents, such as the completion statement and transfer deed, are prepared by your conveyancing solicitor to be signed ready for completion
- Your conveyancer will request the mortgage money from your lender so that payment can be arranged on the day of completion
- On the day of completion your conveyancer will transfer the remainder of the purchase price to the seller’s solicitor – less the deposit that you’ve already paid. In return you will receive documents such as transfer deeds and proof that any outstanding mortgages have been redeemed. On the same day you’ll receive the keys to your new property and can move in at any time
- After the process of completion, your solicitor will take care of sending transfer deeds and stamp duty to the Stamping Office and registering your ownership with HM Land Registry. Title deeds received from HM Land Registry are then sent to the mortgage lender
Conveyancing can be a frustrating process at times so it’s essential to have the right kind of professional support on your side. This is especially so as a property is often the most expensive purchase that many of us will make in our lifetime. Working with a conveyancing solicitor will give you the peace of mind of knowing that all the important details are being taken care of.