For many first time buyers, conveyancing is a word they hadn’t even heard of before they started researching the house buying process. It doesn’t need to be something to worry about, though, as thanks to changes in the way conveyancers operate in the 21st century, the process is now simpler than ever. Nick Masheder, from conveyancing specialists Beaumont Legal, explains>>
WHAT IS CONVEYANCING?
The act of conveyancing describes the legal side of the house buying process, for both a buyer and a seller. The conveyancer ensures title deeds are checked as well as completing searches into factors that could affect a property in future such as drainage, chances of flooding, or if a large development such as a high-speed rail line is planned nearby.
A conveyancer also deals with the exchange of money, paying stamp duty and Land Registry fees, as well as giving you advice on any extra costs you could incur.
The fact that most of this involves legal documents that can be accessed remotely removes the need for a modern conveyancer to be based locally to the property. This differs from surveying, where a surveyor will visit the house you’re looking to buy to check its structural soundness.
FINDING THE RIGHT CONVEYANCER FOR YOU
While it’s true that some conveyancing firms still insist on using slower, paper-based systems, many have moved on. Technology has opened up competition in the sector, and you can easily shop around for a provider that offers exactly what you want at the right price.
Like with so many everyday services, you can go online to find a conveyancer to help you buy your new home. There’s no need to take time off work to meet with a local solicitor, you can search in the evening or weekend and find a national provider who should be able to offer you the facility to track your case online and keep you updated by email and even text message. All this allows you to stay up to date at all stages of the house-buying process at your own convenience.
Don’t think that means you have to compromise on personal service, though. While some companies use call centres or receptionists to keep the customer at arm’s length, others will give you the name of a dedicated point of contact who’s working on your case. Make sure you insist on this so that, if something does go wrong or there is a delay, you can talk to them directly.
Competition in the sector is strong so you can get all of this without compromising on price. While you shouldn’t just pick the cheapest provider, you should look for a fixed fee to keep costs in check and even ask for a no-completion-no-fee service so that, if the sale does fall through, at least one part of the process doesn’t leave you out of pocket.
So when you get your conveyancing quote for the cost of your purchase, do not regard the amounts charged as further unnecessary costs. While there is sometimes more tax to pay in the form of stamp duty, the costs of the professional fees and disbursements such as the searches will be money well spent to ensure you are fully informed about your new property and should mean you avoid any shocks or surprises later on.
Nick Masheder is a Partner and Head of Conveyancing at Beaumont Legal Solicitors.