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What does a conveyancer do?

If you’re buying or selling property then you’ll need a conveyancing solicitor to help you with the legal transaction. But how do you find one and what do they do?

what does a conveyancer doWhat does a conveyancer do?

If you’re buying or selling property then you’ll need a conveyancer – or conveyancing solicitor – to help you.  Conveyancing involves the legal process of transferring home ownership.

It’s possible – albeit rather difficult – to conduct the conveyancing process yourself as long as you’re not taking out a mortgage (as the lender will require a professional legal firm to be involved).

But most people prefer to find the right solicitor or conveyancer and “instruct them” to oversee the conveyancing process.

Where to find a conveyancing solicitor

Research is key. But searching online shouldn’t take long so you will be able to move quickly and appoint someone in no time at all.

Get recommendations from friends and property professionals and by all means get quotes from their suggested firms. But be aware that your estate agent or developers conveyancer may end up costing you more. If you are buying a new build property we would warn against using your developers recommended solicitor. You need someone who can work 100% in your interests.

With our panel of over 150 quality assured firms  you can compare conveyancing quotes from the cheapest, nearest and best rated conveyancers instantly

What your conveyancing solicitor will do first

Once you’ve appointed a conveyancer, they will open a purchase file and draw up a draft contract or terms of engagement with you. This sets out their charges and deposits required.

You’ll also need to give information about the estate agent, whether you will need a mortgage and if so, details of the lender. They’ll also ask to see photo ID, for example your passport.

If selling your conveyancer will then ask the estate agents for a memorandum of sale, or notification of sale, which will have the solicitor details for everyone in the chain. You’ll need to complete some legal questionnaires about your property and what you intend to include in the sale.

Next, your solicitor will contact each party’s solicitors to inform them they have been instructed to act for you with your purchase and/or sale.

Property searches and surveys

There may be things about the property you are buying that you don’t know just from viewings or even from getting a survey. So as part of the conveyancing process, a conveyancer will organise a set of local searches. Your conveyancer will review the results of these local searches and highlight any factors you need to be aware of such as planned new roads or developments near you. Read more about local authority searches what they cover and cost 

You’ll want to get a survey done into the condition of your property. Once the results are in your conveyancing solicitor can look through and advise on next steps. See what to do after a bad house survey

What about my mortgage?

If you are taking out a mortgage on the property you’re buying, your conveyancer will need a copy of the mortgage offer and will go through the conditions.

If you are selling you’ll need to speak to your lender or your mortgage broker to see what they advise.

Most mortgages are portable, meaning that you can transfer them from the home you are selling to the home to which you want to move. For more on mortgages when moving see our guide to remortgages

Deeds and tenure

The seller’s conveyancer will send the draft contract and a copy of the Title – often referred to as the ‘Deeds’ – for the property to your conveyancer.

If the home you are buying is leasehold your conveyancing solicitor will be able to advise on the length of the lease, what restrictions are in place, maintenance fees and ground rent you will need to pay and more.

However, don’t rely solely on your conveyancer to check for the length of the lease. Leases below 80 years are problematic. They can be expensive to extend and you need to have owned the property for 2 years before you are eligible to do so. So look through the lease yourself. Leases under 60 years are best avoided.

Raising queries, carrying out checks

It’s your conveyancer’s job now to go through the paperwork and each search carefully and to raise any queries with the seller’s conveyancer.

For example, they could discover an issue with a boundary between the property and a neighbour or that the house you want to buy is at risk of flooding.

Signing on the dotted line

Once all the queries have been satisfied, your conveyancer will send you the checked documents to sign and return.

Agreeing exchange and completion dates

Phew, nearly there! Your conveyancer’s next job is to negotiate the date of exchange when you legally own your new home/sold your existing home. They will then arrange the date of  completion – this is the day you’ll get keys to your new home.

It can involve some compromise to find a date suitable for everyone, particularly if it’s a long chain.

After completion

Your solicitor will tie up some loose ends. If you are buying they will:

  • Pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf
  • Send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender, who will hold them until you pay your loan off
  • Notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold
  • Give you a bill for their payment

If you are selling you’ll need to pay your estate agent as well.

You will receive your legal documents about your new home about 20 days after completion after your solicitor has sent them to the Land Registry.

You will want to collect together all your paperwork from the purchase of your new home, including the estate agent’s brochure, to file away and keep safe for when you move again.

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