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Conveyancing FAQ - For Buyers

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Putting your foot on the property ladder may seem daunting. After all, buying a home is one of the most significant financial commitments you will make in your life. Getting everything right first time is absolutely essential; but if you’re a first time buyer, there are plenty of pitfalls waiting to trip you up. Treading carefully is key, but doing your homework is just as important. With a wave of legal jargon headed your way, we thought we’d simplify the conveyancing process to help you understand what to expect over the next few months.

What is conveyancing?

The term ‘conveyancing’ simply refers to the legal process involved with transferring ownership of property.

The conveyancing process begins after you have had an offer accepted on a property. It ends once the property has been successfully registered at the Land Registry. Due to the complexities involved, instructing a solicitor is absolutely essential.

Your conveyancing solicitor will be responsible for preparing all the relevant documents as well as checking meticulously through those received from the seller; addressing any irregularities and raising red flags where necessary.

How long will the conveyancing process take?

Once you’ve settled on your dream home and had your offer accepted, it’s likely that you’ll be itching to move in. One of the first questions that buyers tend to ask their conveyancing solicitor is how long the process will take in total. The problem with this question is that the answer will vary from case to case, and with so many unknown factors in the equation, it can be hard to provide an exact timeframe.

Generally speaking, the conveyancing process tends to take between six to eight weeks on average. However, certain issues can delay the process - for example, if you find yourself in a long chain of interlinked sales and purchases waiting for the seller to complete their property purchase before selling their current home. There could also be a delay in obtaining documents if, for example, the sellers solicitor is slow to respond. Your conveyancing solicitor should keep you regularly updated where they feel there will be potential delays as well as working to tackle them and keep the process moving.

Do I need a survey?

A survey involves a professional property surveyor undertaking a thorough inspection of the property before the transaction is complete. Most surveyors will be members of the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and will therefore carry professional indemnity insurance. Costs of a survey will vary between companies and depend on the size of the property as well as the location.

Getting a survey can be extremely useful, as it can help you to identify potential problems with the property prior to signing the contract. This will allow you to avoid nasty surprises down the line such as an unexpected rewiring job or expensive repairs to the structure itself. Should the surveyor alert you to any significant issues such as necessary alterations or costly repairs, you may choose to reconsider on the property purchase. On the other hand, the information from the survey could potentially allow you to renegotiate the price on the basis that the repairs will add a noticeable increase to the total cost. Alternatively, you might want to ask the seller to repair the property themselves before you finalise the purchase.

What are property searches?

During the conveyancing process, your solicitor will carry out property searches. As with the survey, these searches provide essential information regarding the property you plan to purchase. There are three searches that are normally arranged by the solicitor on your behalf:

  • Local Authority Search
    This search is crucial in discovering information about the land where your property lies and the plans for the surrounding area. Your conveyancing solicitor will send a list of enquiries to the Local Authority on your behalf to find out about any upcoming developments in the area along with crucial information including but not limited to planning permissions, building regulations approval and guarantees, adopted roads and highways and tree preservation orders.In some cases, the results of these enquiries can effect the buyers decision to purchase, making it a vital part of the process. 
  • Environmental Search
    The Environmental search is carried out to check whether the land on which your property lies is safe and uncontaminated. This may seem unnecessary, but in fact, the by-products caused by old industries may still present a health hazard for property owners, for example if the property lies where a landfill site used to exist.
  • Water Drainage Search
    Your solicitor will also raise enquiries with the local water company to ensure that your property is connected to mains water, mains drainage and 'surface water drainage’.

What is completion?

Throughout the process, you may hear your solicitor referring to “the completion date.” Completion happens exactly when you think it would: once the transaction is complete. After contracts have been signed and exchanged, your solicitor will inform you of the agreed date on which the funds from your mortgage will be released and transferred to the seller. Once this has happened, you will be the new legal owner of the property, and all that’s left is for you to pick up the keys and get moving.

At Bird & Co, we love bringing people and property together. With vast experience in residential property transactions, you can rely on our expert conveyancing solicitors to keep the process smooth and straightforward from start to finish. If you have any more questions about your property purchase or are ready to instruct a member of our team, just get in touch today on 01476 591711.