Moving home can be exciting and life-changing but it can also be stressful and the last thing you should be worried about are the legal complexities involved with buying and/or selling your house. Our conveyancing solicitors will work closely with you to understand your priorities and progress things efficiently to deliver a smooth and effective service. You can come and meet with one of our conveyancing solicitors at your convenience in our Newbury, Thatcham or Maidenhead office.
We have been members of LawNet, a group of over 60 independent law firms, for over 25 years. LawNet is committed to quality and excellence and we make full use of the opportunities which it provides in order to keep improving our service.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the term for the legal process of transferring one person’s property (the seller) to another (the buyer). A conveyancing specialist will lead the process. The specialist could be a solicitor, legal executive or a licensed conveyancer.
What are the key matters conveyancing solicitors deal with?
- Handle the contracts
- Give legal advice
- Carry out searches
- Deal with the Land Registry
- Transfer the funds to pay for your property
When should I instruct my conveyancing solicitors?
You should look for a legal expert who specialises in conveyancing early on. By looking early you can ensure you gain support from a trusted advisor during the stressful period of moving house.
Once you have put in an offer (usually through an estate agent) you should have your particular conveyancing specialist identified as once the offer has been accepted you will need to instruct them and give their details to the estate agent.
How much will it cost to use conveyancing solicitors?
To calculate an immediate estimate of the cost of your move, please use our online e-quote facility below.
Our full pricing policy can be found here.
How long does conveyancing take?
The conveyancing process typically takes 8-10 weeks from receiving the initial contract papers to completion of the sale or purchase. It is important to wait until ‘exchange of contracts’ before making concrete arrangements for moving as issues further up a chain or otherwise out of your control may delay the process.
What does the conveyancing process involve?
Put simply the following gives an idea of what conveyancing looks like from start to finish:
- Before you start looking for a property get your mortgage sorted out so you know what your budget is.
- Find the property you want.
- Put in an offer (usually through an estate agent) i.e. tell the seller what you are willing to pay for the property. This is also the time to raise any conditions you have in relation to the property.
- The offer is accepted: At this point, you should also arrange a survey to check the property’s condition and instruct your chosen conveyancing specialist to handle your transaction.
- The survey checks will include a wide range of examinations including: the structural integrity of the property; whether there is any signs of subsidence, damp or damage; and whether any building works have been carried out at the property. These items are not covered by the legal process which is why a survey (on top of the valuation carried out by a mortgage lender) is always a good idea.
- Your conveyancing specialist will look at the legal papers to the property including the register of title and the title plan to see whether the property benefits from or is subject to any rights, covenants or charges
- The specialist will order searches from the local authority, the water authority and an environmental search provider to find out if there are, for example, common drains serving multiple properties, whether there is any history of land contamination, or whether the nearest road is adopted by the council.
- The conveyancing specialist also receives and will send to you a copy of the Property Information Form and Fittings and Contents Form (completed by the sellers) together with any other papers relating the property i.e. guarantees, planning permission and building regulation documents. The forms also ask the sellers questions about, for example, the property boundaries and whether there are any disputes with neighbouring properties.
- Having reviewed the above items the conveyancing specialist will raise any questions they have about the documents or any queries you have from the forms with the seller’s solicitor
- Once all searches, investigations and queries have been dealt with and your mortgage offer (where relevant) has arrived, your conveyancing specialist will prepare a formal report and arrange for you to sign the contract and transfer the exchange deposit in anticipation of exchange. The exchange deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price (although it is sometimes less). The exchange deposit is sometimes less than the ‘deposit’ your mortgage lender will refer to (which is the sum of money you are putting towards the purchase i.e. not their mortgage).
- Exchange: This commits all parties involved in the transaction (and the chain, if relevant) to the sale and/or purchase. By exchanging contracts you cannot back out of the transaction without losing money. Nobody is legally bound to complete the transaction until contracts are formally exchanged. Once exchange has happened your transaction will be secured and a completion date will be fixed.
- Completion: The completion date is the day you move into the property. At this point the property is legally yours. Before completion you will need to transfer the rest of the money for the house you are buying along with our fees and other payments associated with the purchase (such as land registry searches and registration fee). After completion we will register the property in your name (along with your mortgage) at the Land Registry and, once the Land Registry has completed the registration, we will send you a copy of the register of title for your records.
Are you a first time buyer?
Buying a property for the first time can be an exciting yet daunting process with many things to consider. If you are considering making your first purchase you should read our First time buyer – What do I need to know? page which includes our top tips and answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from clients.
For more information on how we can help you if you are buying or selling your house, please contact one of our conveyancing specialists in our Newbury, Thatcham or Maidenhead office below.