The Conveyancing Process
When an offer is accepted for the sale of a property what happens?
Step 1: The conveyancing process begins. The seller's conveyancer, whether they are a solicitor, licensed conveyancer or other conveyancing professional, provides a contract and a copy of the title deeds to the buyer’s conveyancer.
Step 2: The seller is asked to complete Law Society forms giving information regarding their use and occupation of the property. The Property Information Form asks questions regarding boundaries, disputes with neighbours, details of work completed on the house, central heating, flooding etc. whilst the Fittings and Contents Form asks for a detailed inventory of the items the seller will be leaving behind for the benefit of the buyer.
Step 3: The buyer’s conveyancer considers this information and advises the buyer accordingly. They also instruct necessary searches against the property, usually a regulated local authority search, environmental search, mining search and drainage search. The local search reveals information held by the local authority relating to the property, including planning, environmental health, road maintenance, tree preservation orders etc. The environmental search identifies potentially contaminative risks, the mining search identifies past, present or future mining issues and recorded claims, the drainage search checks for connection to sewers and sewers within the property boundary.
Step 4: The buyer's conveyancer may raise queries with regards to the title and the other information provided which the seller's representative, with the assistance of the seller, answers as quickly as possible. In the meantime, the buyer is progressing their mortgage application which is hopefully received around this time. In general, the reason for any delay in a conveyancing transaction is the issue of the buyer’s mortgage offer. The banks and building societies have become much more controlled as to their lending policies and investigate potential borrowers very closely.
Step 5: Once all of the buyer’s queries have been satisfactorily answered and the mortgage offer is in place, both parties sign the contract and the buyer pays a 10% deposit. A completion or moving date is agreed and only at this time are the conveyancers of the seller and buyer able to exchange contracts – it is now legally binding for the seller and the buyer to proceed with the house sale and purchase. Up to this point, either the seller or the buyer could have withdrawn from the transaction. The buyer must have their buildings insurance in place as risk passes with the contract exchange.