Richard Hamilton – Head of Property at Davis Blank Furniss – talks us through the conveyancing process

housebuying2

Selling a house/flat

  1. Usually an estate agent will be instructed and the property will go up for sale. Viewings will then take place and the sale price will be agreed.
  2. You should then instruct either a solicitor or a conveyancer to deal with the sale on your behalf. They will send their terms of business/engagement letter to you setting out the likely cost and disbursements. Disbursements are payments that need to be made to third parties such as search fees and stamp duty land tax. They will also carry out identity checks required by their governing bodies.
  3. Your representative will then provide you with a ‘contract pack’ which should contain the following documents for you to complete:
  • Fittings and content form;
  • Property information form;
  • Leasehold information form (only if the property is leasehold); and
  • Leasehold property enquiries form known as LPE1 (this will need to be sent to the landlord/managing agents only if the property is leasehold).

You will note that the documents will vary depending on whether the property you are selling is freehold or leasehold.

  1. Your representative will also prepare the standard form contract and order official copies of the register entries for the property (if the property is registered) or review your title deeds (if the property is unregistered).
  2. They will also need to know whether there is an existing mortgage on the property and the amount that is outstanding.
  3. The Buyer will have also instructed a solicitor/conveyancer and their representative will raise enquiries with your representative. You will then need to answer these and the response will be sent back to the Buyer’s representative.
  4. The Buyer’s representative will be responsible for preparing the transfer deed that is needed for completion. Once this has been agreed you will be asked to sign this along with the contract and return the originals to your representative.
  5. Once all enquiries have been satisfactorily answered, you and the Buyer will agree a date for exchange of contracts and completion. This may take place simultaneously or there may be a gap in between. Exchange of contracts means that both you and the Buyer are legally bound by the contract that you have both signed and completion is when the monies are paid.
  6. If necessary, your representative will then obtain a ‘redemption figure’ from your existing mortgage provider which confirms the outstanding sum owed.
  7. On exchange of contracts (if this does not happen on the same day as completion), your representative will be in contact with the Buyer’s and they will usually speak over the phone and simultaneously date the contracts that they are holding. They will update you once contracts have been exchanged.
  8. By mid to late morning, on the day of completion you will need to have vacated the property. The Buyer’s representative will send the completion monies to your representative and you should return your keys to your estate agent (unless you have made alternative arrangements with the Buyer).
  9. Your representative will send all the original documents relating to the property and provide an undertaking that they will redeem the mortgage to the Buyer’s representative. Using the purchase monies, your representative will then pay the estate agents fees, redeem the mortgage (if necessary) and usually take payment for their own fees and disbursements.
  10. They will then transfer the remaining balance to you. However, if the property is leasehold, your representative may need to retain an agreed sum in the event of apportionment of any service charge due. This will be released to you once they have received confirmation that there are no arrears.

Buying a house/flat

  1. Once your offer has been agreed you should instruct a solicitor or a conveyancer to deal with the purchase on your behalf. They will send their terms of business/engagement letter to you setting out the likely cost and disbursements. Disbursements are payments that need to be made to third parties such as search fees and stamp duty land tax. They will also carry out identity checks required by their governing bodies.
  2. You should ensure that your mortgage is in place and notify your lender of your representative’s details.
  3. Your representative will then carry out standard searches of the property (and may request money up front to carry these out).
  4. Once your representative has received a copy of the contract pack and the search results are back, they will raise necessary legal title enquiries for the Seller to answer.
  5. Your representative will prepare the transfer deed that the Seller will need to sign ahead of completion. If you intend to jointly own the property, your representative will ask you whether you want to hold the property as joint tenants or tenants in common. Your representative will explain this difference to you.
  6. Prior to exchange or completion, your representative will report to you on the title of the property highlighting any particular information that they feel you should be made aware of.
  7. Before exchange and completion take place they will also ask you to sign the following documents:
  • Contract;
  • Transfer deed (if you are buying the property jointly or if any information is contained at panel 11); and
  • Mortgage deed (if you are purchasing the property with a mortgage).
  1. Once they have received these documents, they will ask you for your preferred date of exchange of contracts and completion. This may take place simultaneously or there may be a gap in between. Exchange of contracts means that both you and the Seller are legally bound by the contract that you have both signed.
  2. Your representative will ask you to transfer the deposit and depending on when completion is set to take place, may ask for all the purchase price monies.
  3. They will then agree the dates with the Seller’s representative and conduct a bankruptcy search (if there is a mortgage) and an official search of the whole of the property.
  4. In the meantime, your representative will liaise with your lender to ensure that the mortgage monies are released on the date of completion. The lender typically requires 5 days’ notice.
  5. On exchange of contracts (if this does not happen on the same day as completion), your representative will be in contact with the Seller’s representative and they will usually speak over the phone and simultaneously date the contracts that they are holding. They will update you once contracts have been exchanged.
  6. It is likely that you will need to insure the property from exchange of contracts.
  7. On the day of completion your representative will then send the completion monies to the Seller’s representative. Once this has been received, the keys will be released and you will be able to enter the property.
  8. Following completion, your representative will need to submit the stamp duty land tax return within 14 days of completion. You will therefore need to ensure that they have the money and all necessary information to be able to do this.
  9. Your representative will also submit the land registration application to transfer the property into your name. This must be completed within 30 days of the official search being carried out.
  10. You will then receive a copy of the registered title from the Land Registry and all other documents relating to the property if there are any originals held by the Seller or their lender.

www.dbf-law.co.uk

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