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The Conveyancing Process Part II

by Sarah Halloran

In part 1 of our property conveyancing guide we looked at how to instruct a solicitor, the start of the process and the arduous task of completing many forms.  We’ll now take a look at the closing stages of the home buying and selling processes.

Signing the Contract

Once your solicitor is happy that his enquiries have been successfully answered or dealt with he can invite you to sign the contract and a number of other documents.  This will happen once all searches have been carried out satisfactorily and he has a copy of your formal mortgage offer.  The mortgage offer is very important as it proves to all parties that you have the funds available to continue with the purchase.  You may be asked to sign the contract in person, but usually it is fine to do this by post.  You will also be sent a ‘property report’ that contains any striking information that has been raised as a result of the searches.  This report should be read carefully as it may highlight a problem or concerns that need to be raised with your solicitor.  The report will be carefully studied by your solicitor and your mortgage lender to determine whether the property you wish to buy is a good investment.

It should be noted that the signing of the contract does not make it legally binding.  It simply means that your lawyer is now able to exchange contracts.

Exchange of Contracts

Exchange of contracts is the point when many home sellers and buyers breathe a sigh of relief.  This is when the contract does become legally binding.  Exchange usually happens over the phone between the seller’s and buyer’s solicitors each of whom will have a copy of the contracts signed by their clients.  They will go over the contracts to ensure all information is identical.  Once exchange happens the seller and buyer are legally bound to complete the sale and purchase.  A date for completion will then be agreed between the seller and the buyer through their solicitors.


Another very important part of the process, completion is the day when the seller moves out of the property and the buyer moves in.  Depending on the length of the chain, determining a completion date can sometimes be a difficult process.  However, most people want to move as quickly as possible and therefore won’t put up any obstacles that will delay this from happening.  Nobody can guarantee what date completion will happen and completion doesn’t actually occur until the seller’s solicitor receives the money for purchase from the buyer’s solicitor.

Monies are sent by telegraphic transfer which is guaranteed to reach the bank on the same day.  There is usually a charge for this and monies will only arrive if they are sent before a specific cut-off time determined by the bank.  As long as there are no problems you can usually expect completion to happen around lunchtime.  This is usually when you are sitting outside the property with your removals company waiting to move in.  Once the money has been received in the seller’s bank account the estate agent will be instructed to release the keys to you.  Delays can occur, but in most cases you can expect to be moving into your new property in the early afternoon.

Of course, this guide doesn’t highlight the many problems that can occur during the conveyancing process, but we’ll save those for another time.  We hope our guide will give you a little insight into how the process works.

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The Conveyancing Process – Part I

by Sarah Halloran

It’s only when you start the process of selling or buying a home that you realise what a long and drawn out process it all is.  Even if you are a first time buyer with no chain ahead of you the legal red tape can really slow things down.  How well the legal process runs and at what rate will often depend on the firm of conveyancing solicitors you choose.  Choose a poor quality team and you could be waiting around for weeks or even months for just the initial phases of conveyancing to be completed.

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Choosing a Good Firm

Finding a good firm of solicitors should be high up on your list when you want to buy, sell or indeed both!   Your estate agent may well have recommended a company to you and this is sometimes the safest bet.  If the estate agent has built up a good working relationship with a conveyancing company it can often mean things get done at a much faster rate.  Even so, you will still want to make sure you are getting a good deal so now is the time to obtain some quotes from a number of conveyancing firms.  You should be provided with a fixed quote from each giving you details of legal fees, stamp duty charges and disbursements.

Disbursements?  What Are They?

Disbursements are the fees paid by your solicitor to third parties, e.g. Local Authority land searches.  In order to start proceedings you will need to pay a small deposit and this is often non-refundable.  However, some solicitors may have a ‘No move – no fee’ offer although you may need to pay higher fees for this level of service.

Establishing Lines of Communication

If you have any questions for your solicitor before the conveyancing process begins it’s best to ask these before you pay any money upfront.  This will ensure you are completely clear about the whole process before you part with any of your hard-earned cash.  After all, buying or selling a property is not cheap and you’ll want to know what you are getting for your money.  The main complaint when it comes to the conveyancing process is lack of communication.  It’s true that weeks can pass without any word from your solicitor and this can often be frustrating.  Ask your conveyancing solicitor how easy it is to get in touch with them if you suddenly find you have a problem or a query for them.

Property transactions can be unpredictable.  Buyers can pull out at any time and sellers can withdraw their acceptance of your offer.  Whilst there is little you can do to prevent these problems there are other issues that a conveyancing solicitor can assist with.

And so the Form Filling Begins…

You’ll be amazed at just how much paperwork you need to complete especially for a house sale.  Everything needs to be filled in completely, signed and countersigned, but this is all part of the process and is designed to cover everyone in the event of problems or disputes.  The forms you need to complete will depend largely on your situation and whether you are buying outright, buying with a mortgage or buying to let.  You’ll get various forms to look over during the course of conveyancing and returning them in a timely manner will ensure you are doing all you can to speed the process along.

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Look out for ‘The Conveyancing Process – Part 2’ next week!  It might not have a nail-biting ending, but it might give you a little useful information!

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