The Conveyancing Process

Below you can see a summary of the typical steps in the conveyancing process for the sale or purchase of a property. In reality, no two property transactions are ever the same, but these guides should give you an indication of the key steps, what's expected of you and what you can expect from us if you instruct us to carry out your conveyancing work. If you have any questions about the process, call us on 01535 610011 or contact us through the website for more information.

Buying a home is a process with multiple steps. The team at Gaines & Wilkinson have put together this home buying guide so you can look at all the steps in once place. We’ve even included a short description of each stage to give you more information.

Choose a Mortgage

Choosing a mortgage is the first step in buying a home. People often find their mortgage provider through an Independent Financial Advisor, broker or lender. Once you’ve chosen your mortgage provider, you’ll then get an ‘agreement in principle’ to show how much the lender is likely to offer you – it also includes interest rates. This agreement will be finalised later in the process, usually after you’ve found a property.

Find a Property and Make an Offer

This part of our guide to buying a home can often be the most difficult and time consuming as finding a property can take time. You should always do your research at this stage too – finding out what similar properties have sold for on property websites is always useful. Once you’ve found a property, it’s then a case of putting an offer in.

Find a Conveyancer

Once you’ve put an offer in, it’s then time to find a conveyancer who will then help you throughout the buying process. You should always shop around when looking for a conveyancer – reading reviews is a great way to help make your decision.

Arrange a Property Survey

You should always get a surveyor to inspect the property you’re buying to check for any issues. This will give extra information on the property itself and will beneficial for you in terms of the valuation report. Ask your surveyor for a Home Buyers Report or full structural survey.

Conveyancer to Submit Searches

Your instructed conveyancer will submit searches relating to the property. This is to see if there are any planning or local issues that might affect the property’s value.

Lender’s Valuation

The mortgage lender also carries out a valuation of the property to see if its value is sufficient in relation to the level of mortgage you have requested.

Energy Performance Certificate

The Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) should be available from the estate agent and needs to be reviewed. This is important to give you an idea of the energy costs for the property as you might want to invest in improving the energy performance if it’s particularly poor, for example.

Finalise the Offer and Mortgage

Taking into account the lender’s valuation, the EPC and the survey findings, you should finalise the offer and mortgage at this stage. The information you get from these reports might mean you renegotiate the price and, if a lower price is agreed, then you’ll have to advise the lender so that they can prepare a new offer.

Instruct the Lender to Proceed

Once the mortgage has been approved and all parties are happy, then you should get in touch with your lender or mortgage advisor and move to the next stage.

Mention any Specific Requirements

Now is the time to mention to your lender if you have any plans for an extension to the property or specific uses in mind. This is to give enough time for checks to be done so we can be sure there is nothing to prevent your plans going ahead.

Review Contract and Title Issues

Anything that was revealed during searches by your conveyancer will be brought up at this stage. From here, you can work with your conveyancer to discuss how to approach any of these issues.

Negotiate a Completion Date

You’ll be able to negotiate a completion date for the purchase of the property with the seller. This estimated completion date will take into account the length of the chain and any other problems that might have been flagged by a survey, for example.

Review Contract with your Conveyancer

A contract, Transfer, Mortgage Deed and any other documents will be sent to you to review and sign. You should review these documents with your conveyancer before signing, however. It’s also important to note that the signature on the Transfer must be witnessed by an independent adult that isn’t a relative.

You should also check the plans of the house to ensure they show the property and grounds in full. Once you’ve signed this contract, it doesn’t mean the sale is done – you will only be committed to the purchase once the formal exchange of contracts takes place.

Exchange Contracts

Once signed, contracts must be exchanged, and the deposit will be paid. This exchange of contracts legally commits both parties to the transaction and, should you pull out of the purchase without due reason, you’ll lose your deposit and could face legal action. And, if the seller pulls out, then you’ll receive your full deposit back and you’ll have the option to take legal action against them.
If you’re using the sale of an existing property to fund your latest purchase, you’ll need to ensure that the contracts for both properties are exchanged at the same time.

Get Building Insurance

You should take steps to protect your new property by purchasing the appropriate insurance. However, you must also make sure that the building insurance you buy complies with your mortgage lender’s requirements.

Completion of Purchase and Final Steps

To complete your house purchase you must:
• Ensure your mortgage money must be received by your conveyancer and the purchase funds will then be transferred to the seller’s conveyancer.
• Transfer deeds of the property between conveyancers to ensure the property changes ownership.
• Get the keys for your property, usually through the estate agent.
• Check that the Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is with the HMRC and that the purchase and mortgage have been registered with the Land Registry.

Organise your Mortgage

The first step in selling your home is to inform your lender that you’re intending to sell. You should find out the amount outstanding on your mortgage and if there are any early redemption charges. If there are, you might delay the sale until the end of the penalty period if you’re able to.

Check your Energy Performance Certificate

You should get an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) if you don’t already have one.

Get a Recent Valuation of your Property

Get an up-to-date valuation of your property as soon as possible so your selling price is accurate. We recommend getting more than one valuation from different estate agents to get the best idea of what your property is worth.

Set the Asking Price

Decide what price you want to market your property for by using the information you’ve gathered from estate agents.

Put the Property on the Market

Decide how you want to advertise your property and put it on the market. If you want to use an estate agent, you’ll have to sign a contract that establishes their terms.

Find a Trustworthy Conveyancer

Find a conveyancer that you can trust and can work on your behalf throughout the selling process. It’s worth doing your research when choosing a conveyancer – go with one that’s highly rated and don’t just look at price.

Gather Documents

Gather all the documentation you have for the property and get it all in order and ready. You’ll need to retrieve items like the planning consents, building regulation certificates and other guarantees and servicing information, for example. If your property is leasehold, you’ll need to show evidence that ground rent and service charges are paid up to date.

Complete the Forms

Provide the buyer with the relevant information about the property by completing all the relevant forms and questionnaires provided.

Consider the Offers

Review your offers as they come in and see if any of them meet your requirements. We recommend considering each offer individually to see which would suit you best.

Take the Property off the Market

Once you’ve accepted an offer that you’re happy with, instruct your estate agent to take the property off the market.

Request the Contract

At this stage, it’s time for your conveyancer to draw up the legal contracts needed to transfer ownership of the property.

Answer any Queries About the Property

It will be your responsibility to answer any questions about the property that your conveyancer passes over to you from your buyer. Some questions will be handled by your conveyancer, but any questions that are specific to your property will be down to you to answer.

Negotiate a Completion Date

Work with your conveyancer and seller to establish a completion date for the sale of your property. Remember to consider the length of the chain (if any) and any problems flagged up by the surveys.

Review the Contract with your Conveyancer

Ensure you’ve fully reviewed the contracts with your lawyer to check all the details are correct. You won’t be committed to the sale until the contracts are formally exchanged.

Exchange Contracts

Exchanging contracts legally commits you to the transaction. If you’re moving to another property, make sure the contracts for both properties are ready to be exchanged at the same time.

Completion and Final Steps

The sale is finished when the following steps are completed:

  • Accept payment
  • Property changes ownership
  • The deeds of the property are transferred between the conveyancers
  • Keys to the property are handed over by the estate agents

Mortgage and Fees

Your conveyancer will finally:

  • Pay off the mortgage for you using the money transferred from the buyer
  • Pay the estate agent fees
  • Take their agreed fees and pay the net proceeds to you

You’ve now successfully sold your property! Congratulations.