When it comes to buying or selling a property, the legalities can feel overwhelming. Conveyancers ensure that the process is as smooth as possible by handling all of the legal parts of buying or selling a property.
Discover everything you need to know about conveyancing, from what conveyancers do and the searches that conveyancers conduct to how much conveyancing costs with this Stanfords guide.
What is a conveyancer?
A conveyancer is a legal professional who specialises in handling the legal aspects of transferring ownership of a property from one person to another. Conveyancers work closely with both buyers and sellers to ensure that the transfer of ownership is completed both smoothly and legally.
Sometimes conveyancers are known as solicitors or attorneys. However, it is important to make sure that the professional you choose is well-versed in conveyancing and its intricacies to avoid missing important information about the property.
What does a conveyancer do?
A conveyancer plays a crucial role in transferring property ownership from one person to another, ensuring that the whole process is carried out legally. Conveyancers work on your behalf to ensure you know everything you need to know about a property and that all of the necessary documents are completed.
We’ve broken down some of the many tasks a conveyancer undertakes during the process:
1. Get the paperwork in order
Conveyancers are responsible for a range of different forms and legal documents. As well as the title transfer – the transfer of ownership from seller to buyer – conveyancers also oversee contracts of sale, land registry documents, mortgage agreements and among others, title deeds to ensure the seller has the legal ownership of the property.
However, the role of a conveyancer doesn’t stop with the paperwork – despite what many people might be led to believe.
2. Organise searches of the property
As well as ensuring the paperwork is all in order, conveyancers also organise and conduct property searches to confirm the title deeds and uncover any legal issues associated with the property. Conveyancers will identify the types of searches required at each individual property, which could include: local authority searches, land registry searches and among others, environmental searches.
3. Find out if the property is freehold or leasehold
Conveyancers are also responsible for confirming whether the property is freehold or leasehold. Both are ways to own a home, but have different implications for the buyer.
A freehold property means that the buyer will own both the property and the land it is built on, whereas a leasehold property means the buyer will only own the property for the length of the lease. With a freehold property, buyers are responsible for maintenance and upkeep of both the land and the property.
How long do conveyancing searches take?
Frustratingly, there’s no set time for how long conveyancing searches take. However, generally conveyancing searches are returned to your conveyancer within a few weeks. This can increase to a few months depending on the number of searches being conducted and any problems that might arise.
What searches do conveyancers do?
There are several different searches that conveyancers can conduct on a property, depending on the individual case. Some of the most common searches for conveyancers to conduct are:
- Land registry – checks the title register, plan and other documents that are held by the land registry to reveal ownership details and interests or charges which could impact the purchase or sale.
- Local authority – uncovers significant information held by the relevant local council about things such as building control issues, any planning permissions or restrictions and any potential disputes.
- Environmental – reveals any potential environmental hazards relating to the property such as contamination, subsidence or flood risk.
- Water drainage – examines the connection to the sewerage system and mains water supply, revealing information about water quality and any existing or planned drainage works.
How much do conveyancers cost?
As with any professional service, the price you can expect to pay varies from company to company, depending on the value of the property and across different parts of the UK. However, research has found that the average conveyancing fees when buying a house range from £500 to £1,150 with additional disbursements, which can add up to £700 or more.
When it comes to selling a house, the conveyancing fees are generally lower at between £600 and £950. If you have a leasehold property, you can expect to pay more in conveyancing fees than if you had a freehold property.
It’s worth noting that conveyancing fees do not include the cost of the searches that are being carried out. While they are organised by the conveyancer, they are a separate charge which should also be factored into your moving costs. If your property requires many searches, you’ll have several additional charges to pay as well as your conveyancing fee.
When do you pay conveyancing fees?
Each conveyancer will charge their fees in a different way, but most conveyancers will ask for a deposit to be paid up front. Oftentimes, the remainder will be paid in stages as each aspect of the conveyancing is completed, or upon completion of the whole process.
Can I do my own conveyancing?
Yes, it is possible to do your own conveyancing – however, unless you are a conveyancing expert yourself, it is not advisable due to the complexity of the process. Additionally, if you’re hoping to get a mortgage, DIY conveyancing likely won’t be an option. Mortgage companies will typically require the security of a pre-accepted independent conveyancing professional to handle the legal purchase.
As we’ve covered, conveyancing involves more than just filling in some forms and sending them off to be processed. If you attempt to DIY your conveyance without professional experience, you could easily overlook important details regarding the buying or selling of your property. HM Land Registry provides some helpful advice and guidance on conducting your own conveyancing.
Before you get to the stage of conveyancing, you need to find the perfect property! Discover the properties for sale across south east London with Stanfords.