Ultimate guide to conveyancing

One of the most important people you will require when selling or buying a property or when remortgaging is a conveyancer. The role of a conveyancer is to oversee the legal requirements and to make sure that the mortgage reaches completion. 

Here we take a look at what conveyancing is, their role, and conveyancing costs.

What is conveyancing

A conveyancer or a general solicitor conducts conveyancing. In the case of a solicitor carrying out these duties, they will have specialised in conveyancing legal work and property law.

The role of the conveyancer is to transfer ownership of land or property from one owner to another. Split into two parts; conveyancers arrange the exchange of contracts, which lays out the agreement and its details. The second part of the process is called completion, and this is when the legal titles get passed from one owner to the other.

Property surveys

It is possible to arrange a mortgage before making an offer, and your bank or mortgage provider will inform you of how much they are willing to lend. This offer is called an Offer in Principal.

Formal property surveys determine if the property is valued in line with the offer you make. A survey may also check the structural state of the property.

There are three types of property survey:

  • Valuation survey
  • Homebuyer’s report
  • Full structural survey

Valuation survey: This is a basic survey but useful for remortgages or new build purchases. This survey does not include a structural check.

Homebuyer’s report: This will check the condition of windows, roof, and general state of repair, including a check for subsidence.

Full structural survey: This is essential for renovation projects, and although it is more costly, it makes sense for renovations. 

Draft contracts, exchange of contracts, and completion

When an offer is made, a draft contract is drawn up by the seller. The draft contract states the purchase price, planning restrictions, and boundaries, as well as other details. The draft also stipulates the transaction completion date and includes the Energy Performance Certificate. You should take a close look at the contract, and if required, negotiate new terms with the guidance of the solicitor or conveyancer.

Once the draft contract has been agreed upon, the seller and buyer sign the contract. This exchange of contracts is legally binding, so it is vital to be sure of the purchase and its details. A deposit is typically paid at this point; the buyer becomes responsible for the new property and home insurance.

The completion day is the final step in the conveyancing process. While completion can occur within a few hours, most buyers wait between one and four weeks to allow the last checks to be completed.

The remaining payment is now made. The mortgage lender or bank will transfer the funds, and you must wait until this is completed before taking ownership of the property or land. Once paid, you can collect the keys and enter the property. The conveyancer’s final duties include registering the ownership of the property with the Land Registry and paying your stamp duty.

Conveyancing costs

The costs that the conveyancer issues are split into two distinct categories:

  • Disbursements – This covers work completed by third parties, who for example, conduct surveys and searches 
  • Legal fees – This includes the basic work of the conveyancer

Conveyancing costs and fees vary, and they are affected by the following:

  • Property value
  • Property tenure
  • Legal fees
  • Disbursements

Property value: Conveyancers often take property value into account with fees set as a percentage of the properties value.

Property Tenure: Freehold and leasehold properties have different legalities and associated paperwork, which effects the conveyancing fee.

Legal fees: These vary from case to case and depend upon whether you are selling, buying, or both.

Disbursements: Searches and surveys differ in each case.

Why you should use a conveyancer’s

You can do the duties of a conveyancer yourself, but this role takes a lot of time and is complicated. You can end up in serious trouble if something goes wrong. It would be best if you chose a licenced conveyancer because they are experts.

In England and Wales, conveyancers are regulated through the Council for Licensed Conveyancers or CLC. In Scotland, the selling and buying process differs, so it is advisable to use a local conveyancer.

How to choose a conveyancer

It makes a lot of sense to choose a conveyancer that is recommended to you and works in the local area of the property or land. You should check legal fees and what they include before instructing a conveyancer. You should also review if legal fees still apply if the sale falls through because these can run into hundreds of pounds.