The essential conveyancing guide for sellers in 2018

We explain the conveyancing process when selling a property. Insider tips show you how to save time & money and avoid being a victim of slow conveyancing.

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Pre-Exchange

Exchange

Pre-Completion

Completion

How has conveyancing progressed in 2018?

The conveyancing process when selling a property

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring ownership from an existing owner to a new owner. In this simple guide we explain the steps involved in selling a property.

With 30% of sales falling through nationally (often due to slow conveyancing) we offer tips on reducing the risk of an 'abortive transaction' and saving time, money and stress on your move.

The Pre-Exchange Phase

Offer Accepted - instruct a solicitor.

  • Instructing a solicitor before you find a buyer is a very good idea. Find one that works on a no sale no fee basis so if you decide not to sell you won't incur any fees.
  • Choose a solicitor with a proactive attitude to communication e.g. a preference for email and phone communication, will you get their personal phone number, can you track the case online, are they open evenings etc.
  • If you are selling a leasehold flat, instructing a solicitor early on in the process is doubly important. This approach will enable the solicitor to obtain management information from the freeholder whilst you are marketing the property. Most leasehold sale transactions are delayed as a result of waiting for the freeholder to provide the management pack.
  • Tell your estate agent who your solicitor is without delay as they will need to send a 'memorandum of sale' to the solicitor.

The solicitor will send a starter pack containing their terms of engagement, a formal instruction form, a verification of ID form and a copy of the quote.

The pack should also include a set of property related forms for you to complete.

Look through the small print to see if there are any additional fees that don't appear on the front of the quote.

  • Ask your solicitor to send you the starter pack by email.
  • Prioritise the completion and return of the lengthy forms in the pack.
  • Find your passport or driver's license asap you may need to provide these so the solicitor can verify your identity.
  • If your property has been modified, find any planning documents, warranties, building regulations certificates etc and send these back with the completed forms.

Be aware that the solicitor will do nothing until these forms have been completed and returned.

The forms the solicitor will send include:

  • Verification of ID form
  • TA6 - Property Information Form
  • TA7 - Seller's Leasehold Information Form (if leasehold)
  • TA9 - Commonhold Information Form
  • TA10 - Fittings and contents
  • TA13 - Completion information and undertakings

These forms must be completed accurately and honestly as failing to do so can have legal implications and will, at the very least, undermine the buyer's trust.

Gather any correspondence, service charge bills and insurance documents asap. Think about what fixtures and fittings you are going to include in the sale. Find all utility supplier information. Complete these forms as soon as soon as you have them. Don't be afraid to write 'don't know' on a form. Better to get the forms back quickly and supply any outstanding information later on.

Solicitor receives completed forms and obtains the title deeds from the Land Registry.

Solicitor draws up a draft contract and sends it to the buyer's solicitor.

On receipt of all of the sale information the buyer's solicitor will raise further questions called 'Additional Enquiries' Your solicitor will consult with you about these.

Be ready for the additional enquiries. Solicitors are trained to read between the lines and will most probably spot any issues with the property such as missing permissions, defective leases, missing certificates etc. Be ready for these questions.

The buyer's mortgage lender will carry out a mortgage survey to confirm the property's value.

The buyer may also carry out a RICS Homebuyer's survey or structural survey.

Mentally prepare yourself for the seller to want a price reduction if the survey uncovers any issues. 2018 is becoming a buyer's market so it may be increasingly common for this to occur. If, for example, the surveyor recommends that the property will soon need a new roof at a cost of £10,000, the buyer will probably want the price reduced to cover the cost of this.

Contractual negotiations will then follow. These will include:

  • Agreeing a target completion date
  • Agreeing what, if any, fixtures and fittings are included in the sale
  • Potential negotiations around price

Your solicitor will also need to know how much is outstanding on the mortgage. The mortgage will need to be redeemed (paid off) on completion.

As you get closer to exchange, you solicitor will send you the contract and Transfer Deed to sign. Again, get these back to the solicitor ASAP - even if you receive them weeks ahead of exchange.

Exchanging Contracts

The contract will be signed by the seller and buyer in readiness for exchange of contracts.

A completion date is finalised and agreed between all parties.

The solicitors will 'exchange contracts' on the date you have agreed with your buyer. Contracts will be exchanged between all other parties in the chain (if there is one) at the same time'.

Your buyer's deposit is sent to your solicitor.

Your buyer is now legally obliged to complete the purchase. If the buyer fails to complete you can keep the deposit (typically 5-10% of the sale price). You will also be able to pursue the buyer for any costs or losses you have incurred.

You too are now legally required to complete the sale or your buyer would be able to sue you.

Pre-Completion

Your solicitor will send you a financial statement with a breakdown of the final mortgage redemption figure, any other loans relating to the property, the agents commission and the solicitors legal fees.

Completion

On the day of completion:

The solicitor will inform the seller that the transaction has completed

Estate agents will be notified and will release the keys to the buyer

Title documents will be forwarded to the buyer

If there is a mortgage it will be redeemed

The estate agent's commission and solicitor's fees will be deducted from the sale proceeds

The remaining money will be sent to the seller.

The seller will vacate the property

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How has conveyancing progressed in 2018?

The underlying conveyancing process for property seller's has not changed much in decades.

However, the tools available to solicitors (who choose to use them) have significantly improved efficiency in the sale conveyancing process. Such improvements have lead to a better experience for home buyers and sellers.

In particular the wider adoption of IT systems including email, case management systems, electronic searches, online files and fraud prevention tools have helped modernise the conveyancing process.

Despite the adoption of technology, the sale of your home and flat can only ever complete as quickly as the slowest member of the property chain. The tips above should help you make sure that you are not the slowest link and, in some circumstances. help hurry along other buyers and sellers in the chain.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert

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