Finding the right property solicitor, or ‘conveyancer’
Indemove uses solicitors so we’ll use the word ‘solicitor’ (rather than conveyancers) but you’ll also see that their job is ‘conveyancing’.
In the property world, you'll hear 'solicitor' and 'conveyancer' used interchangeably. It's true there's different training but the professionals agree it usually amounts to the same thing.
You are welcome to find your own solicitor because there's no obligation to use Indemove's services. But if you like to compare the market, we have a qualified and regulated network of solicitors across the UK, which may provide a more affordable service.
It’s important you understand the role of your solicitor because s/he looks after a huge tranche of the purchasing process making sure you are protected and guiding you on next steps.
This includes running various searches on the property and the owner(s) to make sure they’re safe and legitimate, (some of which you pay for separately). S/he checks legal contracts are air-tight, processes the mortgage contract with your lender, communicates with the vendors’ solicitor, organises the exchange of contracts and finally, its completion. Loose ends follow such as arranging Stamp Duty Tax on your behalf.
Using Indemove’s conveyancing solicitors
So here we are, at the beginning of the buying and/or selling process and while finding the right solicitor might not excite or inspire you it’s essential to get it right to prevent future problems, to keep you legally safe and to keep your mortgage process on track.
If you’re buying, selling or remortgaging your home you need a conveyancer or solicitor to oversee the legal transaction. With Indemove’s Solicitor Services you can compare the conveyancing market from the cheapest, nearest and best rated solicitors from our panel of over 150 quality assured firms.
Just to remind you: Indemove uses a regulated and qualified network of UK-based solicitors.
When the time is right to request conveyancing support, Indemove will let you know on your timeline in your profile. Keeping you in the loop and providing prompts to guide you in your process is all part of our charm. We’ll use your personalised information to find you competitive quotes.
What do we mean when we talk about conveyancing?
Conveyancing involves legally transferring home ownership from the seller to the buyer. It starts when your offer on a house is accepted and finishes when you receive the keys. Understanding what it involves will help ensure there are fewer surprises along the way.
Who does the conveyancing?
If you choose to go with Indemove, one of our recommended solicitors will conduct the conveyancing process on your behalf. One of the significant benefits of buying conveyancing rather than doing it yourself is around professional indemnity insurance; if anything goes wrong with the legal side of the purchase (after your purchase), solicitors are insured against damage. However, as an individual you are not insured and won’t be abel to blame anyone else! So yes, while it is possible to do the conveyancing yourself (as long as you are not taking out a mortgage), you need to make a decision with full facts and taking full responsibility for the consequences.
First stage of finding a solicitor
- Once you’ve decided that using a solicitor is the best bet the next step is to find a solicitor (or ‘conveyancer’) and ‘instruct them’ to do it for you. When you use Indemove’s recommended solicitor to purchase a property you avoid an estate agents recommended conveyancer which is likely to be a commission-based recommendation and to cost you more.
- Your appointed solicitor will then draw up a draft contract or terms of engagement with you, setting out their charges and deposits required.
- Your solicitor will write to your seller’s solicitor to confirm they are instructed and request a copy of the draft contract and any other details, such as the property’s titles and the standard forms.
- Your solicitor will examine the draft contract and supporting documents and raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. You will be expected to go through the forms the seller has completed and let the solicitor know if you have any queries or concerns.
- There are things you may not know about the property just from viewing it with estate agents or even getting a survey. The conveyancer will do a set of legal searches to ensure there are no other factors you should be aware of. Some searches will be recommended by the solicitor for all purchases and others will be required by the mortgage lender to protect them from any liabilities that the property may have. For example:
- Local authority searches: are there plans for a motorway in your new garden? How about radioactive gas? Has knotweed been recorded in this area? This costs between £70 and £400 depending on the local authority and usually takes 1-2 weeks, but can take up to 6 weeks
- Checking the ‘title register’ and ‘title plan’ at the Land Registry– these are the legal documents proving the seller’s ownership.Checking flood risk – this can also done at the Land Registry. If you are getting an Environmental Search you might not buy this one separately as the environmental search will contain much more thorough flood information and maps.
- Water authority searches – find out how you get your water and if any public drains on the property might affect extensions or building works. The water authority search will cost between £50 and £75.
- Chancel repair search – to ensure there are no potential leftover medieval liabilities on the property to help pay for church repairs. This is a necessity and costs £18. However, you may decide to take out Chancel repair insurance instead for £20 or so. The laws around Chancel repair changed in October 2013 so now the onus is on the Church to establish and lodge liability with the Land Registry.
- Environmental Search – this report is used on the vast majority of transactions and is provided by either Landmark or Groundsure. Depending which product your solicitor usually uses, the report will give information about contaminated land at, or around, the property, landfill sites, former and current industry, detailed flooding predictions, radon gas hazard, ground stability issues, and some other related information. The cost should be around £50 to £60 including VAT.
- Optional and location specific searches – sometimes extra searches are required or recommended depending on the location or type of property or due to particular concerns raised by the buyer. These could include: Tin Mining searches in Cornwall
Mining searches in various parts of the UK and Cheshire Brine searches
Additional Local Authority Questions such as public paths, pipelines, noise abatement zones, common land, etc.
- You will need to get your mortgage in place. This will include ensuring you have the financing available for a mortgage deposit. Your solicitor will receive a copy of the offer and go through the conditions.
- You will need to get a mortgage valuation, i.e. the lender is satisfied the proposed cost of the property reflects its true value. This is carried out on behalf of the mortgage company so they know that the property provides sufficient security for the loan. You normally have to pay for it, but a mortgage company might throw it in for ‘free’ to attract business.
- You will want to have any other necessary surveys done. Whether you have a survey done and what sort of survey you choose will depend on your specific circumstances.
- Before exchange of contracts can take place your lender will ask you to get Buildings Insurance for your new home – this is non-negotiable so factor in this early cost. You are responsible for the property as soon as contracts have been exchanged so it is in your interests to do so.
- Signing the contract. Since receiving the draft contract from the seller’s solicitor, your solicitor will have been in correspondence with you about what is covered. Before signing the contract your solicitor will need to ensure:
- that all enquiries have been returned and are satisfactory
- that fixtures and fittings included in the purchase are what you expected
- A completion date has been agreed between the two parties, which is usually 4 to 12 weeks after exchange of contracts
- That you have made arrangements to transfer the deposit into your solicitors account so that it is cleared in time for an exchange – speak to your solicitor directly about this because they will have experience of average times in relation to your bank. You may want to negotiate the size of the deposit, which is normally 10% of the value of the property. However, even if you agree to pay less than 10% you are still liable for 10% of the value of the property if you later pull out of the agreement. Therefore, if you pay a 5% deposit and pull out of buying the property you will not only lose your deposit but also legally owe an additional 5% of the value of the property.
- Discuss the property and the fixtures and fittings inventory list with the seller to ensure that everything you paid for is still there and the house has not been damaged in any way.
- You will agree on a date and time to exchange contracts at any time on any given day with the seller.
- Your solicitor will exchange contracts for you. This is usually done by both solicitors/conveyancers reading out the contracts over the phone (which is recorded) to make sure the contracts are identical, and then immediately sending them to one another in the post.
- If you are in a chain your solicitor/conveyancer will do the same thing, but will only release it if the other people in the chain are all happy to go ahead. This means if one person pulls out or delays everyone in the chain gets held up.
- Once you have exchanged contracts you will be in a legally binding contract to buy the property with a fixed date for moving. This means that:
- If you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit and owe the seller more if the deposit was less than 10%.
- The seller has to sell or you can sue them.
- The seller can no longer accept another offer (you no longer need to worry about being gazumped).
Between exchange and completion
- Your solicitor will lodge an interest in the property which will mean that the deeds to the property are frozen for 30 working days to allow you to pay the seller and lodge your application to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds into your name.
- The seller will move out (although they may leave this to the day of completion).
- You should organise the moving.
- The solicitor will send you a statement showing the final figure to pay, which will need to be cleared into your solicitor’s bank account at least one day before completion.
On completion day
- Completion is normally set around midday on the specified date although in practice takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money that is due; this can vary according to your bank. It may be worth having a chat with your bank to ask them about average times and also, to let them know you expect (and want) to complete this transaction on your date and by a specified time. Once this happens the seller should drop the keys at the estate agents for your collection. And finally, congratulations! You can now move in.
- Your solicitor will tie up some loose ends:
- Pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf.
- You will receive your legal documents about 20 days after completion after your solicitor has sent them to the Land Registry
- Send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender, who will hold them until you pay your loan off.
- Notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold.
- Give you a bill for their payment.
- You will want to collect together all your paperwork/web details from the purchase of your new home to file away and keep safe for when you move again.