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Conveyancing

What is a conveyancing solicitor and do I need one?

Private Legal Services

7th September 2020

Home sales and purchases are among the most complicated, time-consuming experiences you’ll encounter in your life. The associated legal procedures are together called conveyancing, and most people find that they need expert help to navigate them. A conveyancing solicitor assists with all aspects of the process to mitigate hurdles and ensure that both purchases and sales happen smoothly.

What a Conveyancing Solicitor Does

Many people assume that conveyancing solicitors only handle the paperwork regarding a home purchase, but in fact, they also facilitate the title transfer, inspect the property, and address legal issues that come up during the process. They’re well versed in multiple areas of law so that they can assist clients with all aspects of a home transition.

Whether you’re selling or purchasing a property, conveyancing solicitors are responsible for helping the transaction meet both parties’ satisfaction. This entails acquiring the title deed from you, your current solicitor, or your mortgage lender; preparing the property information form; and communicating with the other party’s solicitor. It’s a good idea to use the same solicitor for both buying and selling.

Here’s a brief overview of how the conveyancing solicitor operates during the transaction:

  • The conveyancing solicitor conducts property searches and helps you get a full, accurate portrait of the property’s risks, liabilities, amenities, and other attributes.
  • The seller’s conveyancer will provide a draft contract that defines the conditions of the sale and the completion timeline.
  • The seller’s conveyancer will also obtain the title deeds and other key documents.
  • After the seller signs the contract, it will be sent to the buyer’s conveyancer for approval.
  • Next, the conveyancers exchange contracts, and the buyer’s deposit is transferred to the solicitor. The contract is legally binding and the prospective buyer is required to pay 10 percent of the property value if they drop out.
  • On the completion date (usually 1–4 weeks after the contract exchange), the property is legally transferred to the new owner, who pays the outstanding balance, and the seller must vacate the property and turn over the keys.

Conveyancing solicitors are not to be confused with licensed conveyors, whose legal expertise is limited to property law. However, they are fully certified to handle conveyancing, and indeed, they help establish regulatory standards in the practice. Still, if you need assistance with other legal issues associated with your home transition (e.g. divorce-related division of assets, tenant agreements, etc.), it’s best to bring a full-service conveyancing solicitor on board.

Why You Need a Conveyancing Solicitor

Some property buyers attempt to carry out conveyancing themselves, but given the process’ complexity, it’s strongly recommended to hire an expert. It’s too easy to overlook key contract provisions or potential issues on the property itself.

For example, some buyers have purchased homes only to discover that the land itself is a leasehold. Without a conveyancing solicitor checking for this, buyers could unwittingly pass their property to the landowner once the lease expires. Other buyers have learned that their new property ownership entails a vulnerable site, such as archaeological remains or abandoned mines. A conveyancing solicitor will assess all characteristics of a property, including the risk of floods, ground contamination, and underground infrastructure, so that buyers can make the best decision.

Conveyancing solicitors also help the transfer of property go smoothly. If you attempt to handle the process yourself, you’ll likely find yourself struggling to juggle contract exchange, funds transfer, keys pickup, and the overall completion timeline. The process can take several weeks and be nerve-wracking for both the buyer and seller. As it is, you’ll have lots of forms to fill out, so it’s a good idea to let your solicitor handle what they can. When both parties have solicitors, it’s typically much easier for all tasks, documents, and funds to move in a stepwise fashion, leading up to the joyous moment of final, legal homeownership.

Conclusion

Conveyancing is a multi-faceted process that must be executed in a timely, orderly fashion to ensure smooth property transactions. Buying or selling a home is already quite stressful and emotional, and so it’s wise to select a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer to assist you. This way, you can gain the peace of mind that you fully understand what you’re purchasing or get the most out of the property you’re selling, and have expert help during the process. Moving house is stressful enough! We are committed to making the process of buying and selling a house run as smoothly as possible. For expert professional conveyancing services, contact Elizabeth Middleton Solicitors and get the next chapter of your life started!