Residential Property Conveyancing Explained: Buying a Home

Residential Property Conveyancing Explained: Buying a Home

Whether you’re buying a property for the first time, or have bought and sold many properties before, the legal steps can seem overwhelming. We’ve put together a simple guide designed to give you some help and information as to what happens in the process of buying a house.

Starting the legal purchase of your property

When you have found a property and your offer has been accepted, subject to contract, the legal side now commences. The Estate Agents will send out Notification of Sale to all the parties involved confirming each party’s details, the agreed purchase price and anything that has been agreed between the seller and buyer.

Both sets of Conveyancers will then open files and write to their respective clients and once both sides have confirmed their instructions, the process will begin.

Issue of Contracts:

The seller’s Conveyancer will issue contract documentation to the buyer’s Solicitors which will include the legal title to the property, Property Information and Fittings and Contents forms together with any other supporting documentation. This is often called the “Sellers Pack”. This can take a week or more to be received from the seller’s Conveyancer and it may seem like you have agreed to buy your property and nothing is happening. Unfortunately, until we receive the Sellers Pack, there is nothing we can do as all the information we need to check to ask questions, report to you and progress the transaction is contained in this pack.

Searches, Enquiries & Mortgage Offer:

On receipt of the Sellers Pack we will apply for searches and ask questions (where necessary) of the seller’s solicitors to check all the information is correct and get additional documentation where necessary, such as guarantees and planning documentation.

Searches are questionnaires in relation to the property you are buying we submit to the local authority, water and drainage providers and environmental consultants.

Whilst this is happening, (and it will take anywhere from 2-4 weeks sometimes it does take longer), you will have applied for your mortgage offer (where necessary) and your lender will have carried out a valuation of the property and a mortgage offer will be issued to both you and to us as your Conveyancer. We will also advise you to carry out your own full structural survey at this time.

In this time your search results will also be received.

Once all the enquiries are received and your mortgage offer is issued (where necessary) you will either be sent the contract documentation to sign at home with a report (as we appreciate that sometimes it is difficult for you to come into the office during office hours) or alternatively an appointment will be made for you to attend the office.

Once we have everything signed and all enquiries have been dealt with, we will discuss completion dates with you. This is the only date that is fixed in your purchase transaction. We exchange contracts once everything is ready, we do not do this on a fixed date. When we are ready and a completion date is agreed, if you are getting a mortgage we will apply for your mortgage funds. When your lender confirms that they will send us your money for completion, we will arrange exchange of contracts.

Exchange of Contracts:

Once you have signed everything and the whole chain is ready, we will ask for your deposit funds and then exchange contracts with a fixed completion date.

You must never assume that the matter will proceed until contracts have been exchanged. Therefore, you should not, for example, book a removal van, buy furniture for the new home or give notice to your Employer or Landlord.

You do not need to be present when we exchange as you will have already signed everything by this stage. We exchange contracts by telephone and we will telephone you on the morning of exchange to get your authority to do so.

Once contracts are exchanged, the contract is legally binding and you cannot change your mind.

Completion:

This is the date when monies change hands and you become the legal owner of the property and get the keys. Completion can only take place on a bank working day (Monday­Friday).

We will send the purchase monies to your seller’s Solicitors on the day of completion. As soon as the seller’s Solicitors get your money, they will call us to confirm and that you can collect the keys, we will then call you to confirm that you can collect the keys. The keys are normally collected from the Estate Agents unless you have made alternative arrangements with the seller directly.

There are no specific times for completion and it can vary from mid-morning to late afternoon.

Following Completion:

We will arrange to register the property in your name at the Land Registry. As soon as your title is registered, we will send both you and your lender (where applicable) a copy. We will then arrange to close your file of papers and this brings the matter to a close.

Of course, each property sales transaction is completely unique and therefore this is only a guide to the procedure.   If you would like to speak to a member of our dedicated residential conveyancing team, please call us on 01904 624903.

Jenny Bell

Solicitor at Guest Walker
Jenny has over 20 years’ experience in residential conveyancing and has recently re-joined our team having originally worked for Guest Walker over ten years ago.

Jenny’s work covers all aspects of residential property law including traditional conveyancing such as house and flat sales and purchases, re-mortgages, lease extensions, transfers of equity and equity release.
Jenny Bell

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