The conveyancing process – what does it involve for sellers?
It’s one of the most vital – if not the most – components of a successful house sale, but conveyancing can still often be clouded in something of a mist for many sellers: confusing, complicated and a little intimidating.
But what does the process actually involve, and what is being done to speed it up to a greater degree?
Here, using our years of experience at Howland Jones, where we’ve helped many sellers through the conveyancing process, we take a closer look.
Filling out forms
Once you have accepted an offer from your chosen buyer and are ready to move to the next stage, it’s time to instruct a conveyancing solicitor for your sale – something your agent can help you with, or one you can choose independently. Your agent will often have a list of recommended conveyancers they have used in the past, and who they know will do the job well, to help you on your way.
Your conveyancer will request your title deeds and ask you to complete a questionnaire. You will need to complete a Property Information Form (also known as a TA6), a Fixtures and Fittings Form (also known as a TA10) and a Leasehold Information Form (also known as a TA7), assuming the home you’re selling is a leasehold.
In the conveyancing process, both the seller and the buyer instruct separate solicitors to act on their behalf, and it’s wise for you to talk with your conveyancer about a completion date so this can be negotiated with the buyer’s conveyancer ahead of time.
Meanwhile, your mortgage lender will send your conveyancer a statement for the total sum that needs to be repaid on completion of your sale.
Exchange and completion
Once the exchange stage has been reached, you and your buyer will then be in a legally binding agreement – one which will prove costly and very difficult for either party to exit. So, before exchanging, it’s vitally important that you’re 100% committed to the sale, as there can be no backing out afterwards – at least not without consequences.
Immediately after contracts have been exchanged, your conveyancer will receive the buyer’s deposit – typically 10% of the property price, but potentially as low as 5% or as high as 30-40%. This will very much depend on the particular circumstances of the sale, and there are no hard and fast rules here.
Once this point has been reached, the buyer is likely to lose their deposit if they back out, which very much incentivises them to be totally sure about the purchase before exchanging contracts.
It’s also important to remember that you can no longer accept another offer once the exchange of contracts has taken place. With this in mind, make sure you have decided on the best and final offer for you and your circumstances – this might not always be the highest offer – before you exchange.
Before the completion date arrives – one you will have agreed upon with your buyer’s conveyancer in advance – your conveyancer will seek payment for their services. All final accounts and paperwork will be put in place by your conveyancer and a final settlement will be created for your approval.
It is your conveyancer’s job to ensure that all deeds and remaining monies have arrived in the correct fashion and that your sale is legally complete. At this point, they will transfer the deeds to the buyer’s conveyancer, so the home is no longer in your name.
Your conveyancer will then pay your agent the fee they are owed for the work they’ve done in helping you to complete, and repay the amount owed to the existing mortgage lender, if this is applicable. What’s more, they will take payment for their own services.
When all costs and payments have been dealt with, the rest of the money from the house sale will be transferred to you on the day of completion. This will typically be by bank transfer unless you have made other arrangements.
Once the completion stage has been reached, you must ensure you then leave the property at the pre-agreed time. There is no obligation to move out before this time, but you may want to move out earlier to save on hassle and stress from last-minute packing and the tying up of loose ends. When you have left your property, you should hand over the keys to your estate agent or the purchaser of your home.
It’s a wise idea to book a removal firm – if you’re not opting for the DIY approach – a few weeks in advance of moving day. This is even more important at the moment, with the currently very high market activity. There are certain days of the week in which costs for removal companies are lower, and certain times of the year, too.
To ensure you are using a reputable company, you should make sure the firm is part of the British Association of Removers (BAR), the trade body that aims to enforce best practice in the removals sector.
Perhaps the biggest thing to be aware of as a seller is pre- and post-exchange. In England and Wales, until the point where contracts are officially exchanged, neither buyer or seller is legally bound into a deal and either party can withdraw at any time. What’s more, sellers can accept a higher offer from another buyer even if they’ve agreed in principle with a separate buyer to sell their home to them.
There is a lot to consider when it comes to the conveyancing process – many forms to fill in and jargon to get your head around – which is where an experienced, reliable estate agent is worth their weight in gold.
They will have done it hundreds if not thousands of times before, and will know the pain points, barriers and little hold-ups that often occur in the conveyancing process and how to solve these.
There are steps being taken, by HM Land Registry and others, to make the process of conveyancing faster, more efficient, more streamlined and more tech-led, with trials including blockchain, e-signatures and the signing of mortgage deeds online.
Still, though, much of the process is paper-based and quite traditional, and e-conveyancing is still some way off – although there have been steps in the right direction.
If you would like more information on all parts of the conveyancing process, and how we can help you complete a sale successfully and for your asking price or above, please get in touch with us today.
Our offices are based in the village of Measham in the East Midlands, and we operate within a 20 mile radius of our base, giving us extensive knowledge of the area. Measham sits on the border of four counties and we are almost equidistant from Derby, Leicester, Nottingham and Birmingham.
We also offer a free, instant online valuation tool, so you can work out how much your home could be worth in the current marketplace.