The conveyancing process starts when the offer on your house is accepted, and it finishes when you receive your keys. It is the legal transfer of homeownership from the seller to the buyer and can typically take around 12-16 weeks.

A solicitor or conveyancer conducts the conveyancing process when you are taking out a mortgage, so before anything can progress, you will need to find the right solicitor or conveyancer. It is always best to use a recommended conveyancer and we can help you with this. Once appointed, they will draw up a draft contract or terms of agreement with you which will set you their costs and any deposits required.

Your solicitor will then write to your seller’s solicitor and confirm that they have been instructed by yourself and request a copy of the draft contract, along with other details such as the property’s title.

What happens next?

Your solicitor will start by examining the draft contract and supporting documents and they will raise any enquiries with your seller’s solicitor. You will go through any forms that the seller has completed, which will include the TA6 form, which is designed to give the buyer important information on the property. Make sure at this point that you check if the tenure of your new home is leasehold or freehold as this makes the difference between owning your own home outright and having a landlord.

Property searches

As part of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will do a set of legal property searches to make sure that there are no other factors that you should be aware of. Some searches are recommended for all purchases, and some will be provided by your mortgage lender to protect them from any liabilities that the property may have.

Some of the searches include:

  • Local authority searches – these will look at things such as if there are plans for a new motorway in your garden, or any radioactive gas detected.
  • Land registry checks – the title register, and title plan are legally required in order to sell.
  • Environmental search – will give information about contaminated land, detailed flooding predictions, ground stability issues etc. You can also get an additional detailed flood risk search.
  • Water authority search – to find out how you get your water and if there are any public drains on the property that may affect extensions or future building works.
  • Chancel repair search – this is to ensure that there are no leftover medieval liabilities on the property to help pay for church repairs. You can also take out Chancel repair insurance to cover this.

Conveyancing with a mortgage

Alongside the conveyancing, you will need to get your mortgage in place, obviously ensuring that you have the finance available for your mortgage deposit. The solicitor will receive a copy of your mortgage offer and read through all of the conditions. It is always recommended that you get an agreement in principle in place prior to offering on a property.

You will be required to get a mortgage valuation, which is carried out on behalf of the mortgage company so that they know the property you are purchasing will provide sufficient security for their loan. Some mortgage lenders ask you to pay a fee for this, while others will include this free as part of the offer.

At this point, you may decide to get a more detailed independent survey done. The survey for mortgage valuation is simply for the mortgage lender to check that if you default on your payments there will be enough value in the house for them to sell it, and recover the outstanding amount of the loan, and not to determine whether the property has defects that will require significant sums to rectify in the future or whether the purchase price is a fair open market price for the property.

The type of house survey you’ll require depends on the age and condition of the property that you’re buying.  Buyers most commonly choose a mid-level survey (such as the Rics Home Survey – Level 2 or RPSA Home Condition Survey), but for older properties, a more comprehensive survey may be recommended. You can find out more about the different types of surveys here.

Before contracts are exchanged, your lender will require you to get buildings insurance in place for your new home, as you are responsible for the property the moment the contracts are exchanged. We can help to find the right buildings and contents insurance for you as we work with the UK’s leading insurers.

Signing contracts

Before signing the contract, your solicitor will need to ensure a number of things including:

  • All enquiries have been returned and are satisfactory
  • The fixtures and fittings included are what you expected
  • The completion date has been agreed between both parties
  • You have made the arrangements to transfer the deposit into your solicitors account, ensuring it will be cleared in time for an exchange.

It is a good idea to visit the property with the estate agent with a fixtures and fittings inventory list to make sure that everything you agreed on is still there and that the house has not been damaged in any way.

Exchanging contracts

Together, you and the seller will agree on a date and a time to exchange contracts. Your conveyancing solicitor will exchange contracts for you which is usually done by both solicitors reading out the contracts over the phone, whilst being recorded, to make sure they are identical and then immediately sending them by post to one another.

If you are in a housing chain, then your solicitor will do the same thing and will only release it if the other people in the chain are happy to go ahead.

Once contracts have been exchanged, you are in a legally binding contract and have a fixed date for moving. If you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit. The seller is legally bound to sell to you, or you can sue them, and they can no longer accept another offer or be gazumped.

What happens between exchange and completion?

One of the final steps in the conveyancing process is your solicitor needing to lodge an interest in the property, which means that the deeds to the property are frozen for 30 working days in order to allow you to pay the seller and lodge the application to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds into your name. The seller may move out then or wait until completion day and your solicitor will send you a statement showing the final figure for you to pay, which will need to clear into your solicitor’s bank account at least one day before completion.

Completion day!

  • Usually, you will have packed all your belongings in the few days before completion day, meaning that you are ready to move quickly – particularly if you are selling your home and have a buyer waiting to move in
  • If you require a mortgage, your solicitor will ensure that your mortgage conditions have been satisfied. If so, they will then request the money from the lender.
  • Once all final checks have been made and the money has been drawn down, your solicitor will transfer the money to the seller’s solicitor.
  • The seller’s solicitor will confirm receipt of the funds and confirm completion.
  • The keys to your property will then be available for you to collect from the estate agent.
  • You can now commence removals! It is courtesy to be as quick as you can if you are in a chain, meaning that your buyer can access the property you are selling. The further down the purchase chain you are, the later that you are likely to move in.

Post completion

There are a few things that your solicitor will tie up once you have completed and moved in. They will pay the stamp duty land tax on your behalf and send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender who will hold these until your mortgage loan is paid off. They will notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold and you will receive your legal documents about 20 days after completion after your solicitor has sent them to the Land Registry.

How KB Mortgage Services can help:

If you are house-hunting in Huddersfield, Halifax or Brighouse and require mortgage advice, please contact us for your free, no-obligation consultation today:

Call 07834 818805 or email [email protected].

Your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up repayments on your mortgage.

Fees may be payable at a later stage.

Approval no: Sol11440