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The conveyancing process

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The conveyancing process is not a strictly regimented one. Different solicitors will have their own way and order of approaching things, as well as an entirely different pace of work. It usually takes around two months from the day you agree the sale to the exchange of contracts, though there are no guarantees that it won't be significantly more or less. The main activities that contribute to the conveyancing work are described briefly below.

Throughout the process, keep in close contact with your solicitor. This will ensure that they stay on their toes. It may feel like you are pestering them, and quite frankly you are, but it is better to be a pest in control of the situation than a nice quiet client who hasn't got a clue what is going on. At every stage in the conveyancing process, there should be copies made of all correspondence. If you wish to see how things work from the buyer's perspective, click here. We have split the process into two - the initial conveyancing work, followed by exchange and completion.

Initial correspondence
There should be some initial correspondence to notify the all parties concerned that the sale has been agreed. There will normally be a letter sent from the buyer's side of the bargain with details of the agreed sale price and contact details for the buyer's solicitor. This will come to you via the estate agent and you will normally be asked to confirm details of your own solicitor if you have not already done so.

Serve authority to obtain title deeds to the property for the previous lender
This is something that must be done at this stage. It can take the lender a little while to action any request you make, so the earlier this is done, the better. A solicitor will normally do this as soon as they are instructed.

Property information form and contents list sent to you by the buyer
This form has summary information about many of the things that will go into the draft contract, such as the property boundaries and any fixtures or fittings that are to be included in the sale.

Send back the property information form
Once you have made sure that this is accurate (and quickly let your solicitor know if it is not, so that it can be amended), this should be send back to the buyer's solicitor.

Receive the deeds
At some point, your solicitor will receive the title deeds from the lender. These will then be thoroughly checked to make sure that everything is in order.

Compile draft contract
Again, this is an activity that your solicitor may have got underway soon after they were appointed. The contract is a legal document that sets out the terms of the sale process. It will contain details of the property and items that are to be included in the sale, the buyers and sellers, how much it will be sold for, and the date on which the transaction will take place. The contract has two parts: Particulars of Sale and Conditions of Sale. The Particulars describe the property and details of the lease or freehold. The Conditions have information about the proposed completion date and any deposit required when contracts are exchanged.

  • Solicitor fields enquiries from buyer's solicitor
    Whilst compiling the draft contract, your solicitor will be sent a list of pre-contract enquiries from the buyer's solicitor, in order to uncover some basic information about the property. This enquiry will ask a standard set of questions, which amongst other things is likely include:
  • What is to be included in the sale? Clarify what contents the vendor will be taking with them and what is being left behind.
  • What are the boundaries of the property? Who owns and is responsible for any perimeter hedges or fences?
  • Whether or not the property is connected to all the appropriate utilities

In the case of a leasehold:

  • Who is the managing agent?
  • Who is the freeholder?
  • Is the current owner up to date with service charge bills and ground rent?

Draft contract and other documentation sent to buyer's solicitor
The draft contract cannot be completed until after your solicitor has received the title deeds from the lender, as it is drawn up using certain information from the deeds of the property. It is not a standard contract and is likely to change or clarify in detail quite considerably over the course of the coming weeks, as a result of contract tennis between the two solicitors involved.

Solicitors negotiate and agree completion date
The completion date may be anything from the same day as the exchange to several months later, depending on the circumstances of the sale.

Although many people arrange for a simultaneous exchange and completion, whereby contracts are exchanged and keys picked up on the same day, this is not always possible. If the buyer and seller are part of a longer chain, then it can be quite difficult to arrange a completion date that is going to suit all parties. Your solicitor should co-ordinate this with the estate agent and the seller's solicitor.

Solicitors agree and acknowledge draft contract
Once all the details are agreeable to both parties, the two solicitors exchange letters of acknowledgement, indicating that they are ready to proceed.

Draft contract sent to you for approval
The draft contract is then sent to you for rubber-stamping. Unless you are familiar with complex legal documents, you may well not fully understand the contract, but you should try to read it anyway.

Approve the draft contract
Once both parties are satisfied that all the details of the draft contract are accurate, and your solicitor has made sure that there is nothing that should reasonably either preclude the seller from buying, or warrant your withdrawal from the sale, then the draft contract is approved and sent to both parties for signature.

Contract sent to you for signing
Which you then do…

Sign the contract and send back to solicitor ready for exchange
…Once you have signed it, you should immediately return it to your solicitor.

Parties agree readiness to exchange
You are then ready to exchange contracts and move onwards towards completion of the sale.

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