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House conveyancing – What you need to know.

What is House conveyancing

Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring the ownership of the seller to the buyer. It can also be defined as the legal transfer of a property title from one person to another. House conveyancing or property conveyancing follow a set procedure, but every house purchase is different in its own way and often comes with its own challenges.

House Conveyancing

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What is the difference between a conveyancer and a solicitor?

conveyancer is someone licensed specifically to handle title transfer, but without being a fully qualified lawyer. A solicitor is a licensed legal professional who may also be qualified to handle title transfer. Both conveyancers and solicitors are fully regulated. Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority, and conveyancers by the  Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

The conveyancing process

The process differs from the seller to the buyer.

The Seller

Below are the steps for conveyancing for the seller;

  1. Hiring a conveyancer

If you are looking to sell or purchase your house, the first thing you need to do is find a suitable conveyancer. The role of a conveyancer is to take care of the legal issues involved in buying or selling a house. When finding the best conveyancer to hire, consider the following factors;

  • Location- you need to find a conveyancer located in the same area or province as the property you want to buy or sell. By doing so, you can be sure that the practitioner is aware of all house conveyancing laws specific to a particular area.
  • Price- the cost of conveyancing differs from one person or company to the other. It is also influenced by a wide range of factors that will be discussed later in this post. Before you hire a conveyancer, consider the cost of the process and all the steps involved.
  • Experience- you also need to hire a conveyancer with adequate experience. Remember that transferring ownership of a property is a legal process. It requires a lot of care because a single mistake may be very costly. Therefore, you need to hire someone who knows what they are doing.
  1. Preparing legal documents

If you are the one selling the house, your conveyancer will be tasked with preparing the draft contract and sending it to the buyer. The draft contract contains the financial and structural details of the property.

  1. Responding to inquiries

Naturally, the buyer will have some questions about the draft contract and the property. Your contractor will handle the return of the inquiries.

  1. Signing of contracts

After checking your terms and contract, the buyer will prepare a document and send it to you. You have to go through it with your conveyancer then sign it.

For the buyer

In the case of the buyer, below are the steps involved in conveyancing;

  1. Finding a conveyancer

As the seller, the first thing you need to do is hire a conveyancer to handle the legal process.

  1. Checking legal documents

You will receive a contract from the seller’s solicitor at the beginning. The contents of the contract detail the information and requirements of the seller, including financial obligations.

The first thing your conveyancer will do after getting hired is to check the legal documents. The conveyancer will examine the draft contract and other legal documents. The conveyancer will also collect all information provided on the draft contract.

This information will come in handy during the rest of the residential conveyancing process. Inquiries and concerns about the draft contract are tackled in this step. The inquiries are sent to the seller.

  1. Property searches

The next thing that a conveyancer does after checking the legal documents is legal property searches. There are several kinds of property searches that a conveyancer has to carry out. They include:

  • Local authority searches- The conveyancer will help you apply and review local authority and drainage searches. Through the local authority search, the conveyancer will be able to discover important information about the property. For instance, the conveyancer will determine if the road serving the specific property is under council maintenance and if there are any plans of extensions.
  • Location searches- these searches help to determine specific factors about a location depending on specific factors.
  • Drainage or water authority searches- a drainage search will determine the location of the sewers running near the property. It will also uncover if the house is connected to the main water and sewerage system.
  • Local authority searches- this will help determine if any local authority plans could affect the property. For instance, if there are any plans for any radioactive gases around your area or plans of construction that could affect your property.
  • Land registry searches will help prove to find documents proving the seller’s ownership of the property. This will be done through documents like the title register and the title plan, usually found at the land registry.
  • Environmental searches- through these, the conveyancer will also uncover if the property is located in a flood risk location. Environmental searches can be done by either checking flood information and maps. It can also be done at the land registry. The search will also give information about contaminations around the property. It can be due to an industry that is or was in the area or ground stability issues.

Note that types and number of legal searches differ from one property to the other. The conveyancer will determine which searches are mandatory for a particular property. Some are recommended by the lender to protect them from potential or existing liabilities.

The role of property searches

The searches mentioned above are done to uncover important information about a property. The data cannot be discovered by only looking through the property with a real estate agent or a surveyor. The results of all these searches are recorded in a document and presented to the mortgage lender, owner, and other relevant parties.

  1. Reviewing mortgage lender’s requirements and complying

If you are buying a house, then you will most likely need financial assistance. The most obvious thing to do is to apply for a mortgage. The first thing the conveyancer will do is present your offer to the lender and acquire a list of their conditions. One of the most common conditions required by mortgage lenders is information about the house. Some of this information can be obtained through property searches. The role of the conveyancer in this stage is to make sure the mortgage lender is provided with the right information about the property.

During the house conveyancing process, the practitioner will also handle the mortgage valuation. The mortgage valuation is a practice done by a conveyancer on behalf of the mortgage company to determine if the property you are looking to buy has enough security for the loan.

Depending on the lender and the type of property, the conveyancer may also have to see to the property survey process. A property survey is an inspection of the conditions of the property. The survey will help determine if there are any significant repairs or altercations needed and how much they will cost.

  1. Signing of contracts

Initially, we mentioned that the seller sends a draft contract to the buyer. At this stage of residential conveyancing, after you have complied with all the details provided on the initial draft contract, you will have to sign the contract. Here, you get to sign after the conveyancer gives you a detailed explanation of all the information covered in the contract. You also only get to sign the contract if you have received a response to all your inquiries.

Note that you also need to make sure that you are satisfied with all the details uncovered by your conveyancer about the property. This includes the state of the property as recorded in the draft document.

At this point, you have to prepare the necessary documents for completing the sale. These documents include;

  • The mortgage deed
  • Contents form
  • Title documentation and plan
  • Seller information form
  • A report of key purchases that come with the house

Signing the contract means that you agree with all its contents. Most of the time, one of the contract contents is a payment plan and a first deposit requirement. This means that you will also have to pay the first deposit.

This is also the point where you will also have your conveyancer prepare your contracts. The contract will detail financial information and other requirements. For instance, if there any construction issues with the property, you will include a clause on repairs in your buyer’s contract. The seller also has to sign this contract from the buyer.

After the contracts are signed, the two parties agree on a date and time when they will exchange the respective contracts.

Final Steps

The following steps involve both parties:

Exchanging contracts

This is the stage where documents of contracts from the seller and the buyer are exchanged. At this point, all the searches and inquiries are completed. The documents have also already been signed by both parties. The conveyancers from the buyer and seller will handle the process of exchanging contracts.

The exchange of contracts means that both parties are legally bound to either sell or purchase the property. This means that failure to complete the purchase or sale means that the deposit will be lost or refunded with an added amount. If the seller decides to withdraw from the process, the buyer has the right to sue them. At this point, the seller also doesn’t have the legal right to accept another offer, whether it is better or not. For these reasons, this is one of the most important parts of the buying or selling process.

Completion

This is stage marks the completion of the residential conveyancing process. Before completing the sale, the buyer is afforded some time to conduct final searches and arrange for funds. Completion happens when the funds are transferred from the lender to the seller. Once the sale is completed, the seller’s conveyancer is tasked with organizing the exchange of the ownership documents.

Final Word

After completing the process, the seller’s solicitor has to finish off the legal responsibilities and final steps of transferring ownership.

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