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The Conveyancing Process Explained

March 4, 2021
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When purchasing a property for the first time, you will quickly have to learn a new vocabulary. There are new terms and processes you need to understand to make sure your home purchase runs smoothly.

At the start of your mortgage application, you will primarily deal with your mortgage broker and your lender. Once the mortgage offer is confirmed, a conveyancer or solicitor will take over as your main point of contact. They will help to formalise the process of transferring ownership from one person to another, including preparing contracts and transferring funds.

Conveyancing can cost in the thousands, which leaves some home buyers wondering what exactly they are paying for. In this guide, we will look at some of the key roles of the conveyancing solicitor and how to ensure the solicitor you hire is up to the task. Remember that mistakes in conveyancing can cost a lot of money to rectify further down the line, so it makes sense to get this done right the first time.

How to choose the right conveyancing firm to represent you

You don’t have to use the conveyancing solicitor recommended by your broker, estate agent or lender. You are free to select your own solicitor, which gives you the option to shop around. Choosing the cheapest option isn’t always a wise choice, as mistakes in conveyancing can delay the process, or cause the entire deal to fall through.

The best piece of advice we can give you would be to check the fine print of any conveyancing quote. A cheap offer might turn out to be less lucrative than you first thought if the conveyancing solicitor also adds on hourly charges for tasks. Look for an all-inclusive quote so that you know exactly where you stand.

You should also choose a law firm that specialises in conveyancing. While any solicitor can handle the process, it can take longer if they are not familiar with the routines. A conveyancing specialist will have processes in place that ensure no steps are missed and things keep moving along.

Ask friends and family for personal recommendations, and always take online reviews with a pinch of salt. Individuals are far more likely to leave a review if they have had a bad experience.

If a customer is unhappy with the outcome of their conveyancing, they might want to “punish” the firm with multiple bad reviews. These can far outweigh the positive reviews. Look for a conveyancing solicitor that responds to reviews instead of simply trying to bury them, as this shows they are engaging with their customers.

Our recommendations for conveyancing

  • Choose a firm with a minimum of 3 practising partners and one that is on the Law Society Register. This will ensure the firm is large enough to give the lender some reassurance. And from a practical perspective, it also minimises the risk of holiday and illness slowing down your purchase.
  • Ask if the solicitor is on the lender’s panel. This means they can transact directly with the lender. Some law firms will say they have “agent permissions” and then subcontract the conveyancing to another solicitor. This can complicate the process as it means you might not be in direct contact with the person handling your purchase.
  • Ask for a fully itemised quote upfront. This should outline everything you are paying for and when payments are due. This will help you to factor conveyancing fees into your purchase.
  • Request a named point of contact. This will make it easier to follow up and ensure your property purchase doesn’t fall between the cracks.
  • Ask if they will accept broker ID verification. If the solicitor has good relationships with your broker, they may accept confirmation from the broker of your ID and proof of address. This can help to speed up the application process and save you from going through this step twice.
  • Ask if they will administer broker fee collection. This saves you the trouble of ensuring everyone is paid on completion. The solicitor will be authorised to make payments on your behalf so no bill is left unpaid.

What does the conveyancing fee cover?

The biggest expenses in conveyancing are drafting and exchanging the contracts, but there are other factors to consider. The amount due will depend on the value of the property and the complexity of the case. A good conveyancing solicitor will be able to anticipate the additional charges from the start so you will know exactly what you are paying for. Your final conveyancing bill will also include the following charges:

  • Searching The Land Registry, if the land is already registered.
  • Searching the Land Changes Department, if the land is unregistered
  • Searching local Land Charges Register.
  • Local authority searches.
  • Environmental searches.
  • Company Register searches.
  • Commons registration search.
  • Water drainage searches.
  • Bankruptcy searches.

What other legal fees should I expect?

In addition to conveyancing, you will also need to budget for the following fees:

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax. This is a tax set by the budget and paid when a property is transferred from one owner to another.
  • Telegraphic transfer fees. On the day the mortgage completes, the buyer’s solicitor transfers the balance to the seller’s solicitors. This is completed instantly by telegraphic transfer. The fee for this transfer is typically around £24-£40.
  • Title indemnity insurance. This type of insurance protects you from losing out if the conveyancing process throws up something that stops the transaction from going ahead. If you later discover that you are unable to purchase the property, title indemnity insurance will ensure you don’t lose out.

For help and advice on the conveyancing process, get in touch with Niche Mortgage Info today, or check out our mortgage advice blog.

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