Residential conveyancing is the process of transferring legal title in a property from one person to another. We know that moving house can be a significant life event, and you can trust us to ensure everything goes smoothly from start to finish.
Buying and Selling Residential Property
Each property sale and purchase is different, often due to legal issues relating to the title to the property concerned, the length of the chain of buyers and sellers, or the co-operation between firms of estate agents and conveyancing solicitors.
Your transaction will be dealt with by a qualified lawyer within our conveyancing team, with whom you will have direct email and telephone access.
Good communication eases the stress of the transaction, and creates a more positive experience for all parties.
BUYING A PROPERTY
Deciding on the property to buy:
The estate agent office, offering the property for sale, will arrange for you to view the property, and will put forward to the seller, any offer you wish to make.
The estate agent will also be able to let you have a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate for the property.
N.B. If you are thinking of renting out your new property, please be aware that The Energy Efficiency (Private Rented Property) (England and Wales) Regulations 2015 set out the minimum level of energy efficiency for private rented property in England and Wales. In relation to domestic private rented properties, the minimum level is an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating of band E.
Finding a solicitor and applying for a mortgage
You will need to find a solicitor to act for you in connection with your purchase. If instructed, we will also act for your mortgage lender, and do not charge extra for doing so.
At this stage, we will also request from you some money on account, to enable us to apply for searches, once the contract pack has been received.
The solicitor starts the purchase process
The estate agent will write to us with a memorandum of sale including details of the transaction, including the seller’s solicitors’ details.
We will write to the seller’s solicitor and confirm we are instructed, and ask them to send us a contract pack. This will include a Property Information Form, a Fixtures and Contents Form, and if the property is leasehold, a Leasehold Information Form. The pack will also include a contract for our approval, and a copy of the seller’s title to the property.
Searches and Approval of Contract
With our initial letter to you, we will send you a Search Information Sheet. This will list for you the various searches that are available, and which we can obtain for you, should you wish. If you are obtaining a mortgage, the searches required by your lender are Local Authority, Drainage, Environmental and Chancel Insurance. If you require any additional searches to be carried out, you can indicate which ones on the Information Sheet, and we will obtain the results for you.
The time it takes to receive the Local Authority Search varies from Local Authority to Local Authority, but generally takes around 1 – 2 weeks.
At this stage, we will also check over the contract pack, and return one part of the contract, approved, with any amendments we require. We will also raise pre contract enquiries with the seller’s solicitors.
Also at this stage, we would prepare our title report to you, so that you are able to look through the papers included within the contract pack, and raise, with us, any queries you may have.
Mortgage offer, search results and further enquiries
Once the mortgage offer and search results are received, we will review these and prepare reports to you on each. The mortgage deed will be sent to you at this point, for you to sign and return to us, in readiness for exchange and completion. In addition, when replies to enquiries are received, we shall send copies to you, along with the contract for you to sign in readiness for exchange of contracts.
Unless you have a related sale, we will ask you to let us have your deposit, which should be between 5% and 10% of the purchase price, depending upon how much you are looking to borrow from your mortgage lender. We will hold this here, until we are in a position to exchange contracts.
Prior to exchange of contracts, we will speak to you to ensure you are happy with everything, and agree to being legally committed to the purchase.
Exchange of contracts and completion date
On exchange of contracts, the completion date will be written into the contract and this will then become binding on all parties.
At exchange of contracts, it is usual for you to put in place your buildings’ insurance on the new property. Our title report will explain what is required in this respect.
Mortgage advance and Preparing for Completion of your Purchase
Once contracts have been exchanged, we will write to your mortgage lender, requesting the mortgage monies for the day before completion. As mortgage lenders cannot guarantee when we will receive mortgage funds, we request the monies for the day before completion to avoid any delays on the day of completion.
At the same time, we will send you a completion statement, showing any balance of monies we require from you for completion. The statement will show you all the money we have and expect to receive, and all the monies we are having to pay out. We would ask that the monies are sent to us electronically, at least a day or so before the completion date, again to avoid any delays on the day of completion.
We will also carry out a final search of the title at the Land Registry, and obtain a bankruptcy search against you, as required by your mortgage lender.
On the day of completion, we will send the purchase monies to the seller’s solicitors. As soon as they receive the funds, they will telephone the estate agent and authorise them to release the keys to you.
We will pay your stamp duty land tax liability to HM Revenue and Customs.
When we receive the title deeds and transfer of ownership document from the seller’s solicitors, we will submit our application to the Land Registry for you to be registered as the owner of the property. The Land Registry can take some time to finalise the registration, and as soon as the completed registration is received by us, we will send a copy to you and to your mortgage lender.
Once registered, the registers of titles at the Land Registry are open to the public, and therefore anyone can obtain a copy of the title to any registered property.
SELLING A PROPERTY
Selling a property
A seller will approach an estate agent to obtain valuations, with a view to selling their property. Prior to marketing, an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) must be obtained, unless a Certificate has been obtained for the property within the previous 10 years, and no major changes have been made to it. You can check the government register to see if an EPC exists for your property:
Appointing a solicitor
The seller should confirm their instructions to their solicitors and provide any funds required in connection with initial costs to be incurred, as soon as they decide to sell. The seller should provide their solicitor with details of any existing mortgage. We will ask you to complete the property information forms, which will form part of the contract papers.
Appointing an estate agent
Once the seller has decided upon which agent to use, the seller will be asked to sign an agency agreement. Once this is done, and the EPC ordered, the property can be put on the market. Your chosen estate agent should then arrange viewings, and inform you of any offers made. You should pass your solicitor’s details to the estate agents, so that when an offer is accepted, the confirmation can be sent to the solicitor.
After an offer has been accepted
Once an offer has been accepted, the agents will then issue their particulars (giving details of the property, the price and the other party and their solicitors). This is sent to all parties and their respective solicitors.
As the majority of land in England and Wales is now registered at the Land Registry, your solicitor will obtain a copy of your title from the Land Registry, which will enable the contract to be drafted. This is then sent to the buyer’s solicitors for approval, along with the property information forms and other supporting documentation.
Redemption figure from the seller’s lender
At this stage, we will obtain a redemption figure from your mortgage company, to give an indication of the amount required to redeem the mortgage on completion. A final figure is requested once contracts have been exchanged and the completion date is known. The figure enables us to calculate the balance that will be due to you on completion.
Freeholder or managing agents
If the sale property is leasehold, we will obtain management information from the freeholder or their managing agents. They usually charge a fee for providing this information.
Enquiries from the Buyer’s solicitors
When the buyer’s solicitors have reviewed the contract papers they raise pre contract enquiries. We will deal with these as far as possible, from the information provided by you, and pass to you any further enquiries that require your input. The buyer’s solicitor will usually approve the draft contract at the same time as raising enquires, and the approved contract would then be sent to you for signature, ahead of exchange of contracts.
Exchange of contracts
Having dealt with any further enquiries and once a final completion date has been agreed, we should be able to exchange of contracts. We will speak to you before contracts are exchanged, to ensure you are content with the arrangements. On exchange, the completion date is fixed, and the contract is binding on the parties. The deposit paid by the buyer is usually held by us until completion, unless it is needed in connection with your related purchase.
On completion, the buyer’s solicitors send the purchase monies to us, and upon receipt of the monies, we will authorise the estate agents to release the keys to the buyer.
Once we have received the purchase monies, we will repay your mortgage, settle the estate agent’s commission invoice and deduct the legal costs and disbursements. The balance is then sent to you.
The title documents are then sent to the buyer’s solicitor to enable registration at the Land Registry.