What does a conveyancer do?
Are you not entirely sure as to what a conveyancer is and what role they play exactly? We’ve broken it into steps to make it easier to understand and so you know exactly why you are paying them.
The role of the conveyancer
If you have just accepted an offer on a brand new property, the first step will usually be to ask for the help of a conveyancer in order to help you deal with the purchase. In the majority of cases, this will be a solicitor but you can also choose a property lawyer or a licensed conveyancer. Whichever you choose, you should always ensure they are regulated by either the Council for Licensed Conveyancers or the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Opening the purchase file
The first thing a conveyancer does is open a purchase file and sends a letter to you requesting information from you such as your basic details, details of your estate agents, if you need a mortgage to purchase the property and if you do, where the deposit is coming from (perhaps through a bridging loan) and who is the lender. You might at this point also be provided on a fixed fee estimate based on the information given. However, it is worth noting that this price could be subject to change if the legal work becomes more complex further down the line.
Requesting a fee for searches
On average, you should be budgeting around £300 for Local Authority searches to be carried out by your solicitor. Local Authority searches help to detect any potential problems, like compulsory purchase orders or any outstanding enforcement notices for the property which can sometimes take a considerable amount of time to be processed.
Contacting the estate agent
Your conveyancer will be contacting the estate agents through which the property is marketed to get a memorandum of sale, otherwise known as a notification of sale. This information provides the solicitor’s details for both parties involved. The next step for your solicitors is to contact the sellers in order to inform them that they will be acting on your behalf to purchase the property.
Receiving the seller’s solicitors paperwork
Once the draft contract has been written by the seller’s solicitor it is sent to your conveyancer alongside a copy of the ‘Deeds’ (also known as the tile). These will usually be electronically recorded and available online through the Land Registry, providing that the home has been sold once since 1990.
Your conveyancer will also be sent what is known as ‘protocol documents’ :
- A Fittings and Contents form: starting what will be removed or left in the building
- A Leasehold Information Form: if the property is a leasehold (a flat or an apartment are the most common types_ then it will set out things such as contact details for the management company and rent payable
- A Seller’s Property Information Form: this is any information that the seller must tell the buyer. This may include things such as when the boiler was last serviced, or if there are any neighbour disputes.
Carrying out checks
One of the most important tasks your conveyancer will carry out on your behalf is going through all of the paperwork in order to see if there are any problems or questions that should be raised with the seller’s solicitor. For example, this could be to do with flood risks or a discrepancy on the Deeds. Things like this tend to be lengthy and complicated, taking a matter of weeks.
Exchange and completion
Once you have provided a deposit of 10% of the purchase price to your conveyancer, they will now arrange with you a date in which you can arrange to move into your new home which is known as completion. Before this is finalised, it has to be agreed with the seller’s solicitor too, as well as any other parties along the chain. Once a date has been mutually agreed upon, the conveyancer then helps to sort out a date in which contracts can then be exchanged.
The exchange is the part where the purchase of the property now becomes legally binding, it will be up to the seller’s to release their contract ready for exchange, at this point the conveyancer can help to organise the process of exchanging contracts. The deposit at this point is then paid to the seller through your conveyancer’s account.
The final completion statement
One of the final stages of the property buying process, your conveyancer will now send you the final completion statement. it is at this point also that you must pay the outstanding balance due for the property.
This includes things such as disbursements (the charges a conveyancer pays to third parties such as management company fees or Stamp Duty on your behalf) as well as the cost of the legal work that has been undertaken, and the balance of the mortgage amount. It is worth remembering the funds in question must have cleared in your solicitor’s account prior to completion taking place. If you have paid money in advance for things such as search to be carried out, these will be deducted from the balance at this point.
Registering change of ownership
The final stage involves the conveyancer organising the change of ownership, which must be lodged with the Land Registry. After completion, the signed Deed is sent to your conveyancer who will send this to the Land Registry for this to be registered alongside the mortgage deed, usually electronically. However, if its the first registration (e.g. its a new build) then the application will have to be posted.