Introduction to Conveyancing Solicitors
Buying property in the UK is a complex process that requires the co-ordination of several professionals, one of which is a conveyancing solicitor. Conveyancing solicitors are legal professionals who are trained and experienced in the legal aspects of buying and selling property. They handle all the legal aspects of property transactions, ensuring that the process runs smoothly, the contracts are accurate and all the legal requirements are met. This blog post will delve into what conveyancing solicitors do and how they can help you with your property transaction.
A conveyancing solicitor will help you to understand the legal aspects of the sale or purchase of the property. They will advise you on the legal requirements, including legal restrictions on the property, and review the agreements with the other party to ensure that everything is correct. During the legal review, they will ensure that any necessary searches are carried out and will advise you of what results have been found. This information will help you make an informed decision about proceeding with the purchase or sale of the property.
Your conveyancing solicitor will handle all the paperwork required for the sale or purchase of the property. This can include contracts, transfer documents, and other legal forms. They will ensure that these documents are complete, accurate, and contain all the necessary legal information. They will also lodge these documents with the relevant governing bodies to ensure the transaction is recorded correctly.
The solicitors will liaise with the other party’s solicitor to ensure there is a smooth transition of ownership. This can include dealing with any negotiations regarding the sale and ensuring that all legal processes are followed correctly. Your conveyancing solicitor will coordinate with the other solicitor to agree on a date to exchange contracts and complete the transaction.
Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority in the UK. It is always good to check the credentials of the solicitor dealing with your case and the law firm.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal process required to transfer a property from a seller to a buyer.
Our blog What is Conveyancing? gives a more detailed guide to the conveyancing process.
The Draft Contract Pack or Contract Pack – The Seller’s Conveyancing Solicitor
The work a conveyancing solicitor does depends on whether they represent the buyer or the seller. Once a sale is agreed, the seller’s solicitor prepares the Contract Pack (also called the Draft Contract Pack.
- The Draft Contract Pack or Contract Pack (DCP)
- The DCP form the basis for the legal transfer of the property. The DCP consists of:
- The Contract of Sale
- The Protocol Forms
- The Title Plan
- The Property Deeds (or Official Copy Entry)
- Any Leasehold Information if relevant
- Any other information such as planning permission, building regulations or guarantees.
This pack is sent to the Buyer’s solicitor to review. The buyer and the buyer’s solicitors then make sure the details of the property being purchased are correct and are the same as when the original sale was agreed. This is the time to ask any question you have about what is included with the property, light fittings, electrical appliances etc.
The buyers solicitor will usually order searches relating to the property. Searches are enquiries made of organisations to gather information about your property. The main searches are:
- The Local Authority Search
- Water and Drainage searches
- Environmental searches
The results of the searches often bring up additional questions to be addresses by the seller and the seller’s solicitor.
If you are buying with a mortgage, your lender will usually require searches to be carried out. If however you are buying cash, the decision is yours whether to carry out a search or not. If you decide not to carry out a search, then you are taking a risk that there may be issues with the property.
Leasehold Management Pack
The final information required is the leasehold management pack. If you are buying with a lease, your solicitor will contact the landlord, usually via the managing agents, and obtain a leaseholders pack. The Leasehold management pack contains details about:
- The Freeholder
- The Freehold Management
- Buildings Insurance
- The ground rent
- Service charges
- Details of any major work being or to be carried out
- Annual management accounts
- External wall fire review
- Asbestos surveys
- Details of any fees to be paid
- Any other issues
Once all of the enquiries have been received and processed by your solicitor, they will produce a report to you and your lender detailing the property being purchased and any issues identified.
This is the last stage before you exchange contracts, and If you are the buyer, it is essential that you satisfy yourself that everything is in order.
Exchange of Contracts
If everything is in order, and the buyer and seller agree, the solicitors will move to exchange of contracts. The buyer and seller swap and sign the contract for sale. The buyer will usually provide a deposit. At this stage the process is legally binding on both parties. The exchange is usually done over the phone between the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors. The signed contracts (which will have been pre-arranged) are then exchanged by post.
Your conveyancing solicitor will ensure that your rights as a property buyer or seller are protected. They will advise you on any legal implications that may arise from the transaction and ensure that you are aware of your legal obligations. In the event that a dispute arises, your conveyancing solicitor will represent you to ensure that your legal interests are protected.
After exchange we move to completion. Completion is the final handover of the property. The buyer, seller and their solicitors will agree a date to complete. Your solicitor will then arrange the final funds. The buyer and seller’s solicitors will usually prepare completion statements detailing all of the figures. The buyer’s solicitor will arrange for mortgage funds from the buyer’s lender and for any additional funds that may be needed. The seller’s solicitor will arrange for any mortgage to be redeemed by contacting the seller’s lender and obtaining a redemption statement for the day of completion.
On the day of completion, the solicitors will arrange for the final funds to be transferred for the buyer to the seller. The seller’s solicitor will arrange for any mortgage to be redeemed and liaise with the estate agent to release the keys.
Lastly, your conveyancing solicitor will ensure that the necessary taxes and fees are paid correctly. They will calculate the amount due and ensure that the relevant authorities receive the payment. They will also check that there are no outstanding fees or charges on the property before the transaction is completed.
The seller’s solicitor will then register the transfer of the property with HM Land Registry.
In conclusion, a conveyancing solicitor is an essential professional in any property transaction. They will provide advice and guidance throughout the process, checking all legal requirements are met, paperwork is accurate and liaising with the other solicitors to ensure the transaction runs smoothly. Whether you are buying or selling property, a conveyancing solicitor will ensure that your legal interests are protected and help you to avoid any possible legal implications. Therefore, if you are planning on purchasing or selling a property, it is recommended that you seek the expertise of a conveyancing solicitor to help you navigate the legal process.