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Understanding the Conveyancing Process | Key Steps & Timescales

Buying a new home is an exciting time but can also be quite overwhelming as there is a lot of legal paperwork to sort out. This article aims to give you an idea of what takes place in the conveyancing process and the timescales involved.

When you buy a house there are normally several people involved – an estate agent, developer or housing association, a mortgage broker, a surveyor, a mortgage lender and a solicitor. Everyone involved in the process is working towards the same goal… to get you moved.

Solicitor’s Role

When you instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf, one of their first jobs, which is required by law, is to verify your identity, and in the case of a purchase, details of your source of funds. They will also need to collect payment for items they will need to purchase on your behalf. Most transactions take between 10 and 12 weeks, especially if there is a chain. New build purchases usually have to proceed much quicker, as housing associations impose a 28-day deadline for exchange of contracts. However, if you are buying a property from the open market, it can take a little longer as there is a lot more information required.

Contract Preparation

Following the initial checks, the legal process starts with the seller’s solicitor obtaining a copy of the title to the property from the Land Registry and preparing a contract pack – this includes the contracts, title and an official plan of the property. They will also get the seller to complete some information forms about the property and what is included in the sale. Those documents are then sent to your solicitor. In the case of new build properties this contract pack will also include planning permissions and other documents regarding the construction of the development.

Searches and Enquiries

When your solicitor receives the contract pack they will order searches, which are a standard set of questions answered by the relevant authority. Your solicitor will then check the results when they come back. It is worth noting that some searches take a few weeks to process before the results arrive. For this reason, on some new build developments, the seller’s solicitor will provide searches relating to the whole development in order to speed the process up. After checking the title and other documents contained in the contract pack, your solicitor will raise any enquiries they have with the seller’s solicitor. It can often take some weeks before satisfactory replies to all enquiries are received.

Mortgage Approval

Most buyers will need a mortgage in order to buy a property. After the property has been valued, a mortgage offer is issued by the lender. Copies are then sent to you and to your solicitor, who will need to check the offer to ensure that they comply with the lender’s requirements. In the case of a shared ownership purchase, the housing association will also have to approve the offer.

Exchange of Contracts

Once all enquiries have been answered and search results and a mortgage offer received, your solicitor will send you the contract for signing. You will also be asked to provide an exchange deposit. The seller’s solicitor will also send their client a contract for signing. Exchange of contracts can, however, only take place once everyone in the chain is ready.

Completion

Shortly before exchanging contracts, the parties involved in the transaction need to agree a completion date, unless you are buying a new build property that isn’t finished yet, in which case you exchange on the basis that completion takes place once the property is ready to move into. Once the contracts are exchanged and the deposit has been paid, then everyone is legally bound and can get ready for their move. Between exchange and completion, your solicitor arranges for the lender to send them the mortgage monies and collects the final balance due from the buyer. On the day of completion the money is sent to the seller’s solicitor and at the point it arrives the purchase officially completes. The seller’s solicitor calls the representative to release the keys and then you will be able to move into your new home!

Shared Direction Conveyancing is the only law firm in the UK dedicated solely to acting for purchasers of new build shared ownership properties. If you are buying a new build shared ownership property, Shared Direction Conveyancing is your ideal choice of law firm to share your journey into homeownership, as we have the experience and expertise to guide you through the process as quickly and simply as possible.

For further information visit sdc-legal.co.uk or for an instant quotation call 0808 273 0273.

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First Time Buyer is an exciting bi-monthly glossy which takes a stylish and comprehensive look at all the options available, setting them out in an entertaining and informative way, and helping potential customers navigate their way through what is often a daunting and complex process. We dispel the myths, reinforce the facts and arm the reader with the tools necessary to make their homeownership dreams a reality.

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