Conveyancing for home buyers
If you are buying a house or flat in the UK then you will need a conveyancing solicitor to carry out the legal work for you.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the legal work involved in transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another.
What will a conveyancing solicitor do on my property purchase?
Once you have had an offer accepted, your solicitor will receive an initial contract pack from the seller’s solicitor. This pack contains a comprehensive set of property forms and legal documents from the seller.
Your solicitor will review these documents and raise further enquiries about the property. Your solicitor will also need to obtain various property searches. If the property is leasehold, the solicitor will need to review the lease and the management information provided by the freeholder.
Once all of the information has been collated and reviewed, the solicitor will investigate the legal title of the property, review the contract of sale and report back to you with their findings and recommendations on how to proceed.
Throughout the conveyancing process, your solicitor will be communicating with numerous parties including the buyer, the mortgage lender, the estate agent, the seller's solicitor and the local authority.
Everything must be timed and coordinated to complete in concert with the seller and all other parties in the property chain.
What property searches will I need?
Your solicitor will need to apply for various property searches. These searches will reveal any local issues including risks to the property and information about local development.
The searches required can vary between locations but most purchases will require the following:
- Local authority search
- Land Registry search
- Drainage and water search
- Chancel indemnity
- Environmental search
If the searches reveal a particular issue, such as local mining activity or nearby flood risk, further searches may be required.
Your mortgage lender will require searches to be carried out. If you are a cash buyer and in a hurry, you may be able to progress without searches. You should speak to your solicitor about this for more information.
Will my solicitor also act for my mortgage lender?
If you are funding your purchase with a mortgage, your lender will need to will instruct a solicitor to act for them. The solicitor will need to confirm that the value of the property offers safe security for the loan. The solicitor will also need to register the lender’s interest (known as a ‘charge’) in the property at HM Land Registry.
It is more efficient for the lender to instruct the same solicitor that carries out your conveyancing. However, your chosen solicitor will need to be a member of the lender’s approved solicitor panel. Not all solicitors can act for all lenders.
It is critical that you confirm that your solicitor is an approved member of your chosen lender’s panel. If they are not you could face weeks of unnecessary delay and added expense.
What happens at completion?
Once you have exchanged contracts, your solicitor will carry out the final checks and formalities before completion. The mortgage will be drawn down and the purchase funds forwarded to the seller’s solicitor.
The solicitor will then arrange and coordinate the completion day with the seller and other parties in the chain. Once You have completed you will receive the keys from the agent and you can move in.
Shortly after completion, the solicitor will formally register you as the new owner at HM Land Registry.
What about Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT)?
Your solicitor will complete the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Return for you. The tax return will be filed with HMRC and the Stamp Duty payment (if applicable) will be transferred a day or so before completion.
Your next step
If you are buying, selling, remortgaging or transferring equity in a home, we can help you find an expert conveyancing solicitor.
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Frequently asked questions:
- How do I speed up the conveyancing process?
- How much Stamp Duty (SDLT) will I need to pay in 2021?
- Why do I need to check my conveyancer's lender panel status before instructing?
- What do buyers need to know about conveyancing in 2021?
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