Legal Conveyancing – How to Guide.

How I was buying my first house – Beginners Guide to a Legal Conveyancing process


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When I decided that it was the right time to buy my first ever house, I was very excited and apprehensive at the same time. I did have an idea that it will not be the same as doing your usual weekly food shopping or probably slightly more complicated than buying a new car! Little did I know that apart from sorting my finances out, I had to enter the whole new world of legal conveyancing! What’s involved in conveyancing process? Could I do my own, DIY conveyancing, surely they sell conveyancing kits at B&Q? Or is it better to leave to the expert conveyancing lawyers? If it is, I want the best conveyancing lawyers and the cheapest conveyancing quote! Too many conveyancing questions and not a single answer! Having being blessed with inquisitive mind, I did some research but was baffled by terms such as “official copies”, “title plan”, “title deeds”, ” conveyance”, “easements”,” searches” “exchange and completion”, etc. I nearly changed my mind and remained an eternal tenant.
Beginning of the conveyancing procedure
I telephoned few conveyancing companies (solicitors) to compare their conveyancing quotes and to find out what conveyancing services were offered. I found that some conveyancing specialists did not charge for certain searches, like bankruptcy search. Other conveyancing lawyers offered discount conveyancing (quotes) quotation if you were prepared to use their online (conveyancing) services. A lot of residential conveyancing firms offered fixed (conveyancing)fees in respect of their services and some would only offer conveyancing estimate.

Finding a property – instructing property conveyancing specialists
When my seller finally succumbed to my offer, I telephoned my chosen conveyancing solicitors formally instructed them to deal with the legal side of the property purchase. This involved giving them my personal details, address of the property I wished to buy, estate agents details. In the meantime, my seller was doing the same with his conveyancing firm.

Finding out about the property – start of conveyancing procedure
My conveyancing solicitor then contacted my vendors solicitors direct and requested standard information about the property. They received the following documents: official property plan and copy of all the entries on the property register from the land registry, draft contract, completed fixtures and fittings form (kind of inventory form of what is and what is to be left at the property following its sale) as well as answers to my conveyancers questions. They retained their copy of contract for the sellers to sign. In the meantime my mortgage offer came through and my conveyancing solicitor requested a local search, water and drainage search and environmental search from relevant authorities to ensure that I knew what I was getting myself into with my property. Once the above documents were received, my conveyancer again checked everything, requested further information and clarification from sellers conveyancing firm. In the meantime they filled in Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) return form and prepared a Transfer Deed and sent it off to vendors conveyancers to check.

Signing documents
My conveyancers having checked all the docs and having made themselves satisfied with all the information relating to the property and my finances, invited me for an appointment. I was then basically explained what exactly I was buying and what I was getting myself into from the physical boundaries of the property to drainage pipes and nearby roads. We went through the mortgage offer to. Although, they did not act as my financial advisors, they were also acting as my lenders conveyancing specialists and had to ensure that I was aware of all the relevant terms and conditions. It was a good day for practicing my signature as I found myself signing lots of documents: Contract, Transfer Deed, SDLT form, Mortgage Deed, and of course my cheques (in respect of the deposit, conveyancing charges and fees). And what about my sellers? Guess they were busy signing their part of contract.

Exchange of contracts
Once the actual date of when the property was finally to become mine was agreed, my signed contract was exchanged with my sellers signed contract. No I did not meet my seller to physically exchange our copies, neither did our solicitors, although they say this is how it used to be done. Our conveyancing solicitors simply spoke to each other over the telephone, confirmed sellers and buyers names, property address, purchase and deposit amount and entered the date they spoke to each other (exchange date) and the date I was to became a legal owner (completion date). They then sent each other their copies to complete the exchange. My conveyancing solicitor, however, also sent them my deposit.

On this day I was more concerned with logistics of moving into my house, but had to wait for my conveyancing solicitor to let me know when I could actually do it. I guess that day was probably more stressful for my conveancers as they had to ensure that they received my mortgage funds and transferred the balance to vendors conveyancers. Once they received the funds, I could move in (providing my sellers moved out by that time and left their keys with the estate agents!).

Post completion – final stage in conveyancing procedure
My conveyancer also had to ensure that my stamp duty and mortgage brokers fees were paid. They also had to wait for vendors conveyancing firm to forward other relevant documents, such as signed Transfer Deed, confirmation that sellers mortgage was repaid, etc. Only then, my property could be registered in my very name at the land registry. Phew, it was over and I was living in my own house! Never again, I thought, until… but that’s another adventure of not so inexperienced buyer… The stages described above vary depending on what services you are after: commercial, residential or remortgage conveyancing, whether the property you buy is freehold or leasehold. It’s a simplified guide to residential conveyancing. Please also note that conveyancing process in Scotland differs from the conveyancing process in England.