If you’re buying a property for the first time, you might feel a little in the dark about what happens in the lead up to getting the keys and moving in so we thought we would explain the conveyancing process.

With a large step such as a house purchase, it goes without saying that it’s important to ensure all the correct legal requirements are in place, to protect both buyer and seller.

Here we outline the most basic steps taken in the conveyancing process.

1. Find a Reliable Conveyancing Lawyer

The conveyancing process begins once you have had a formal offer accepted on a property. When looking for a reliable conveyancing firm to move forward with the purchase, you should look for a legal company which specialises in residential and commercial conveyancing, has plenty of experience, excellent reviews and is regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

2. Seller’s solicitor sends over the contract pack

Once you have instructed your Conveyancer, the estate agents will issue a memorandum of sale setting out the seperate conveyancers instructed to act for the buyer and seller. The seller’s solicitor will send over the contract pack (which includes modern day Title Deeds) as well as other important documents, such as the Property Information Form and Fittings and Contents Form.

3. Independent Property Survey Carried Out

An independent survey (in addition to the mortgage company’s survey) will give you peace of mind that there are no major faults with the property which may affect your decision to buy it. It’s not a legal requirement, but advisable if you are buying a property which traditionally comes with issues, such as if it is a listed building or very old.

4. Property Searches

These are carried out by the conveyancing solicitor to highlight any risks associated with the property. They should include:

  • Local Authority Search
  • Drainage and Water Search
  • Environmental Search

Additional searches may be necessary depending on the location of the property.

5. Enquiries and reports

Your conveyancer will review the paperwork and raise enquiries for the sellers solicitors to answer.  Once replies are received, a full report will be sent to the buyers explaining the paperwork received.  You will be asked to sign your Contract, Transfer and Mortgage Deed (if required).

6. Exchange of Contracts

You will be expected to pay a deposit on the property and at this point the purchase becomes legally binding. You’ll no longer be able to pull out, so it’s important that any issues have been identified and resolved. Your signed Contract will be exchanged with the seller’s solicitor who will in turn send over their client’s signed contract.

7. Completion of Purchase

This is the day when the purchase is complete and the property is officially yours. The conveyancer will transfer the purchase funds to the seller and the keys will be released to you and collected from the Estate Agent.

8. Stamp Duty Paid to HM Revenue and Customs 

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax paid on house or land purchases within 14 days of completion of a house purchase. The amount is based on the value of the property. Your conveyancer will complete the tax form and make the payment using funds already collected from you during the completion process.

9. New Ownership Registered With HM Land Registry

An application will be made to the Land Registry to transfer the ownership of the property into your name and register any mortgage.  Once completed, the updated title will be sent to you with any miscellaneous deeds and documents.

If you have any questions about any specific aspects of the conveyancing process get in touch with a member of our flexible and friendly Sussex conveyancing team today for more details. Why not also read our top tips for completion day.