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What does conveyancing mean?
Conveyancing is the legal transfer of a property from one owner to another and covers the legal and administrative work required to ensure a house sale or purchase is valid under law.
Why do I need a conveyancer to buy or sell my house?
Your conveyancer will provide you with advice relating to your individual property transaction. They will guide you through the process, which includes undertaking searches on the property, reviewing issues that have been raised by your surveyor and any issues that may arise with the title of the property.
If you are getting a mortgage, they will also act for your mortgage lender ensuring that all aspects of the mortgage and its conditions are satisfied before receiving the money on your behalf to buy your property.
What is a realistic timescale to sell/buy a house?
There are many factors that can affect the timescale of a conveyancing transaction and these can include:
- The length of the chain (ie how many other properties are involved)
- How long it takes to get the results of searches
- Issues with a survey that may need to be rectified before completion
- How long it takes to get a mortgage offer - and many other factors
Between 8 – 12 weeks is a reasonable timescale. However it has to be remembered we can only go as fast as the slowest person in the chain. We will do everything we can to keep things moving as quick as we possibly can for you.
Why do I need to have searches?
The searches are necessary so that we can find out if there are any issues that you need to be aware of before you take ownership of your home.
Searches are mandatory for all transactions with a mortgage lender involved and as a standard, we must undertake a Local Authority Search with the local council and a Drainage and Water Search with the local water company.
Even if you do not get a mortgage, we would recommend that you carry out these searches.
The costs weighed against the price of the property are so minimal that it makes sense to pay and be aware of any issues that may need action before you make a legal commitment.
What do the searches reveal?
The local authority search gives us information on the highways surrounding the property, if there are any planning or building control applications or issues, whether the property may be in a conservation area, or even a listed building and much more.
The drainage search will tell us if the property is connected to the foul and surface water drainage system and mains water. If not connected, it may be that your property drains to a sewage treatment plant or septic tank and at this stage, further enquiries would need to be made of the seller's solicitors.
The search will also reveal the location of the known sewers in the vicinity of the property. If you are planning any development this information is very useful.
As well as the local and drainage searches, there are a number of other searches that we may need to undertake which are dependent on the area of your property and these can include a coal mining search, an environmental search, a flooding search and also a planning search.
If you require any further information on any of these searches please ask a member of the residential conveyancing team.
If I buy a property with my partner but am putting more money in than they are, can I protect this?
When buying a property jointly, we will discuss co-ownership with you. There are different options available to you including:
- Owning the property as beneficial joint tenants, so that if anything happened to one of you, the property would automatically pass to the other. There is an assumption that all money put into the property is joint and equal.
- Owning the property as tenants in common in equal or specific shares. This could be where you are both putting equal or different amounts into the property, you want to protect this, perhaps for children, and you would each need to reflect your respective shares.
- If either of the above options do not fit your situation, then we will discuss with you the option of preparing a Declaration of Trust on your behalf to set down in writing your interests in the property and this is something that we can advise on during the transaction.
When does the sale or purchase become legally binding?
It is legally binding when the contracts are exchanged and this is referred to as “Exchange of Contracts”. Once this exchange has taken place you are all legally committed to the transaction and no one can change their mind.
On exchange, the completion date will be fixed and this is the date the keys will be handed over and you can move house.
What happens on the completion date?
If you are buying a property, your conveyancer will arrange for the money to buy your house to be transferred to the bank account of the seller's solicitors. Once the money is received by them, the keys will be released to you from the seller directly or through an estate agent if there is one.
If you are selling your property, you will need to pack up all your belongings and ensure that you move out of the property. Your conveyancer will tell you once the money has changed hands and you can then hand over the keys to your buyer or leave them at the estate agents for your buyer to collect.
It does take a little longer when there are a number of properties involved in the chain, but we will ensure that this is as quick and as stress free a process as we can make it for you.
Do I need a solicitor to act for me?
No, you can do it yourself, however this in not a route we would recommend. The process can be complicated and the risk of getting something wrong is just too high. If a mortgage is being obtained, the bank or building society will insist on their rights being protected by the involvement of a conveyancer.
A residential conveyancer is experienced in handling conveyancing transactions and in most cases it is advisable to engage one.
At Burnetts, we have a very experienced and dedicated team who are always on hand to assist with any queries that you may have throughout your transaction.
If you would like to discuss any other factor concerning your purchase or sale please contact a member of the residential conveyancing team.