Conveyancing is the legal process of dealing with title (legal ownership) of property. It covers a wide variety of transactions such as property sales and purchases, property transfers, leases and mortgages. It covers residential as well as commercial property transactions.
Why is Conveyancing Needed?
The conveyancing process, depending on what type of transaction is being dealt with, can involve a considerable amount of specialised paperwork. Not just anyone can draw up a contract for the sale of a property. It is a criminal offence for anyone who is not suitably qualified to draw up a contract and certain other documents involved in conveyancing so it is essential to ensure that you involve a competent conveyancing solicitor from the outset. Transactions can involve hundreds of thousands of pounds so getting the right legal help from the start is important.
How does it work?
The residential conveyancing process usually takes approximately six weeks and begins with the seller’s solicitor obtaining a copy of the title to the property from the Land Registry. This can now be done online and is a speedy process. andrews ritson has full access to the Land Registry database and can usually obtain a copy of the title to any property in England and Wales at the touch of a button. The contract for sale is then prepared and sent to the buyer’s solicitor together with copies of the seller’s title to the property and other documents called “Protocol Forms” that provide the buyer with basic information about the property.
The buyer’s conveyancing solicitor then applies for searches. These are usually from the relevant local authority and water company together with an environment search to check whether the property is in the vicinity of contaminated land and also area specific searches such as mining, brine extraction and flooding. Enquiries are usually raised at this stage based on the title to the property and the search results and once the buyer’s solicitors are satisfied with the terms of the contract, the results of the searches and the replies given to enquiries, contracts can be exchanged. It is important to remember that if there is a chain of transactions, exchange of contracts can only take place when everyone in the chain is in this position.
The process of exchange of contracts usually takes place during a telephone conversation between the solicitors acting for the buyer and seller and it is usual that the buyer pays a deposit (usually 10% of the purchase price) to be held by the seller’s solicitor at that time. Once contracts are exchanged, there is a legally binding agreement between the seller and the buyer. The contract contains an agreed date for completion (the date legal ownership of the property is transferred from the seller to the buyer). This date is called the “completion date”.
If either the seller or the buyer default on their obligation to complete on the completion date then the contract specifies penalties payable by the defaulting party which could ultimately lead to the buyer losing their deposit or the seller having to refund it, depending on who is at fault.
It is therefore extremely important that a competent legal adviser looks over the documentation to check that all is in order as there is potentially a lot at stake when things go wrong. Conveyancing is one of the oldest branches of the law and there are still many old words and phrases used, particularly if title to the property being dealt with is “unregistered” (where the title to the property has not yet been registered at HM Land Registry and consists of a bundle of old deeds and documents – some of which may be hundreds of years old). Some of this old terminology can be confusing and meaningless to the un-trained eye.
Whether you are buying, selling, transferring or mortgaging a property, an experienced property solicitor can provide you with invaluable professional advice and guidance on the many pitfalls involved in dealing with your property transaction. The right solicitor can make all the difference: ensuring the transaction progresses swiftly, advising you of potential pitfalls and interpreting the legal jargon.
andrews ritson offers a comprehensive residential conveyancing service and can assist you with a wide range of property transactions.
We have a wealth of experience in dealing with property in Bridgnorth, Telford, Shropshire and neighbouring counties and are Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme accredited.
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