The first question you will be asked when you put in an offer on a property is the name and contact details of your conveyancer (eg. solicitor, licensed conveyancer or legal executive).
Conveyancing is the legal term for transferring ownership of property, whether you are buying or selling.
A conveyancer’s job is to take care of all legal aspects of buying a property. There are a number of legal documents and procedures that must be completed when buying a property. For the transaction to move as quickly as possible, you will need a reliable conveyancer to take care of the legal and administrative details.
You should begin your search for a conveyancer early in the process, ideally before you start looking for a property to avoid having to make this important decision in a rush, as finding a professional that you feel comfortable with is important. The conveyancing market is large but each firm is different and the speed and quality of the service offered varies greatly.
Make sure that your chosen firm is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales and ideally a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS).
One of the best means of finding a suitable conveyancer is through personal recommendation, so ask friends, family and colleagues or the estate agent or mortgage broker and make sure you instruct a specialist conveyancer and ask whether they are on your mortgage lender’s panel and can act for both you and your lender. You do not want to find out half way through a transaction that your conveyancer cannot act for your lender as this will end up costing you more money and time.
Do make sure that if your estate agent is recommending a firm that they are local, as often buyers can find themselves using a firm at the other end of the country simply because the estate agent gets a higher referral fee from them, and not necessarily based on your best interests.
Be aware of cheap quotes you can find on the Internet as often these firms are in another part of the country, advertise a low basic fee, but then add a lot of extras from the small print. You may also find yourself speaking to a number of different and sometimes unqualified people rather than one dedicated conveyancer who will be able to deal with more complex transactions, or have local knowledge which may assist.
Choosing the right conveyancer can make the difference between getting the move done or not, and can have an impact on how stressful (or not) the move can be.
- DO ask for personal recommendations.
- DO check the firm you use is CQS (and Lexel) accredited.
- DO think about using a local firm, or one which is at least in the same county.
- DO check the firm you use is on the lender’s panel.
- DON’T just go for the cheapest quote, you may end up regretting it!
What does the buyer’s conveyancer do?
- Obtain the client’s formal instruction and verify their identity
- Check the details and terms of the contract bundle when received from the seller’s conveyancer making sure that the details match the buyer’s expectations of the transaction. The contract bundle includes the draft contract, official copies of Land
- Registry Title documents including Plan, lease (if applicable), management information pack (if applicable), the seller’s property information and fixtures, fittings and contents forms, building regulation documents and any other documents that may be relevant and taking appropriate action based on their findings
- Check the boundaries of the property, access and any restrictions
- Undertake searches, assessing the results and raising additional enquiries if necessary. Searches are checks of: the Local Authority planning department for future plans or preservation orders affecting the property; the surrounding environment to check for contamination; church repair (chancel) liability; the water and drainage connections and any location specific searches such as a coal mining search
- Assess the results of any survey report and advise their client accordingly
- Raise enquiries / questions on any aspect of the property or transaction that need clarification such as requesting correct building regulations or planning permission documentation for extensions, or other works
- Act for the buyer’s mortgage lender making sure all their financial and administrative requirements are fulfilled
- Write a legal report to the client based on the information received both for the buyer and their mortgage lender
- Liaise with all parties
- Manage the transfer of monies
- Negotiate exchange and completion dates
- Manage the payment of the Land registry fees and submit and pay the stamp duty
- Register the new buyer with the Land Registry
- Any other legal work that may be required as part of the transaction (such as a Declaration of Trust)
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