Conveyancing is the ‘act of transfer of title to property from one person to another’. In essence it is the legal process of buying and selling property.
Who does the conveyancing?
Property conveyancing, by law, must be done by a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer. The same lawyer cannot act for both parties, as this would cause a conflict of interest so therefore both the buyer and seller will need their own representation.
What is the difference between a Licensed Conveyancer and a Solicitor?
Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)(previously known as the Law Society) and normally practice all areas of law, including conveyancing.
Licensed Conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and specialise only in conveyancing. The processes and consumer protection standards are the same for either type of firm.
What do they actually do?
Essentially the conveyancer is acting on behalf of either the buyer or seller and representing their interests in the property purchase or sale. Their job is to ensure that the terms and conditions of the contract for sale are fair and reasonable and that all of the financial information is correct. The process for what they actually do differs as to whether they are acting for the buyer or the seller.
What is the process?
The seller’s conveyancer will first request a copy of the land registry entry for the property being sold. This is sometimes referred to as the “Office Copies”. They will then prepare a contract for sale incorporating the land registry plan and details before forwarding it to the buyers solicitor.
The buyer’s solicitor will apply for the searches from a variety of bodies including the local authority and will assess the contract for sale that has been received from the seller’s lawyer. Additionally, if the buyer is borrowing money on a mortgage then the solicitor will need to receive a copy of the formal mortgage offer and be satisfied that the buyer has sufficient funds available to complete the transaction.
If there are items in the contract for sale that the buyer’s solicitor is not happy with, then they will raise a query with the other seller’s solicitor.
Once all of the queries have been resolved the searches have been received and proof of funds achieved, then both parties will be in a position to exchange contracts.
Exchange of contracts is the point of no return for both parties and is a legally binding agreement for the Seller to sell and the Buyer to buy the property. At any time up until this point, either party can withdraw from the process with no penalty other than any monies they have spent on surveys, mortgage application fees etc.
At exchange of contracts a completion date is normally agreed when the transfer will be finalised. On the day of completion the monies are transferred between the parties and ultimately the keys are handed over.