Having listened to many a client and customer complain about their solicitor, I could have quite easily drawn my dagger and joined in with that “Et tu, Brute?” moment. Instead I chose to listen to the complaints and in doing so was shocked at what they actually thought solicitors did.
Whilst I appreciate that some solicitors do their job far better than others, the fact remains that they are ‘key’ in the house buying and selling process.
Before you go rushing off to instruct a solicitor, have a look at what they do for you during the process, then get recommendations from friends, colleagues, family, financial advisors and estate agents -Now you can rush off and instruct your solicitor.
Process for Selling a Property
#1. Vendor Instructs the Conveyancer to act on their behalf.
#2. Vendors Conveyancer confirms the instructions by post. This letter will generally be setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs.
#3. Vendors Conveyancer will carry out proof of identity checks and sends out a Fixtures and Fittings Form and a Property Information form for the Vendor to fill in and return as quickly as possible.
#4. Vendors Conveyancer will then be able to obtain the title deeds or official copies of the title register and any other documents required by the Land Registry and details of any outstanding mortgage amounts (if there is any).
#5. Vendors Conveyancer will prepare the draft contract and any supporting contract documentation – this will then be sent to the Purchasers Conveyancer.
#6. Purchasers Conveyancer will go through the contract and supporting contract documentation and then raises pre-contract enquiries.
#7. Vendors Conveyancer, normally with the aid of the Vendor will answer those pre-contract enquiries.
#8. Purchasers Conveyancer will confirm when they are in receipt of results from their searches, have received a mortgage offer (if needed) and are happy with the answers to pre-contract enquiries.
#9. Vendor and Purchaser agree on a completion date and contracts are Exchanged – at this point you are now legally committed to the sale or purchase of the property.
#10. Vendors Conveyancer will obtain a settlement figure to repay any mortgage up until the completion date. Purchasers Conveyancer will produce a draft transfer deed.
#11. Vendors Conveyancer will check the deed which then needs to be signed by the Vendor for the completion to take place.
#12. On the day of completion the Purchasers Conveyancer will send the purchase amount to the Vendors Conveyancer, upon receipt they will then instruct for the keys to be released to the purchaser (Normally through the Estate Agent).
#13. The Vendors Conveyancer sends the title and transfer deeds to the Purchasers Conveyancer together with an undertaking to discharge any existing mortgage. They will then (with the proceeds) repay any outstanding balance with a mortgage company – pay the Estate Agency fees and also collect their own fees.
#14. The remaining money will be transferred to the Vendor on the same day by bank transfer.
Congratulations – You have just sold your home ! Oh… You’re buying one too? Then you better read on …
Process for Buying a Property
#1. Purchaser instructs Conveyancer to act on their behalf.
#2. Purchasers Conveyancer confirms the instructions by post. This letter will generally be setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs
#3. Purchasers Conveyancer will contact the Vendors Conveyancer so that the contract pack may be forwarded on.
#4. Purchasers Conveyancer will then go through the contract pack, raises any pre-contract enquiries that they may have, apply for the necessary searches.
#5. Vendors Conveyancer, normally with the aid of the Vendor will answer those pre-contract enquiries and forward them to the Purchasers Solicitor.
#6. Purchasers Conveyancer will then report to the Purchaser regarding the contract pack, pre-contract enquiries and answers, results on all of the searches and the mortgage offer (If required). The Purchaser can then raise any questions regarding the report.
#7. Purchasers Conveyancer will ask for the Purchaser to make arrangements for the deposit to be paid to their Conveyancer in preparation to exchange of contracts.
#8. Vendor and Purchaser agree on a completion date and contracts are Exchanged – at this point you are now legally committed to the sale or purchase of the property.
#9. Purchasers Conveyancer will then prepare a draft transfer deed and completion information form and sends these to the Vendors Conveyancer in readiness for completion.
#10. Vendors solicitor approves the draft transfer deed, this may need to be signed by the Purchaser before being sent back to the Vendors Solicitor for signing by the Vendor.
#11. Purchasers Conveyancer produces the completion statement, does pre-completion searches and applies to mortgage lender for funds (If Required).
#12. On the day of completion, the Purchasers Conveyancer will send the purchasing funds to the Vendors Conveyancer.
#13. Vendors Conveyancer will ask for the Estate Agent to release the keys upon receipt of the full funds and then sends the title and transfer deeds to the Purchasers Conveyancer together with an undertaking to discharge any outstanding mortgage.
#14. Purchasers Conveyancer sends any stamp duty payable to HMRC
#15. Purchasers Conveyancer receives the title and transfer deeds and proof that the Vendors mortgage on the property has been paid off.
#16. Purchasers Conveyancer can then register the property in the name of the new owner at The Land Registry.
#17. The Purchasers will receive a copy of the registered title from The Land Registry.
I felt I had to bring to the attention of Vendors and Purchasers to be, that Conveyancers (or a majority of them) aren’t paper pushers that spend as much time on a transaction as they can to earn more in fees.
As you can see the its not an easy task, especially when having to deal with other Conveyancers, Estate Agents, Mortgage Companies, Local Authorities, Buyers and Vendors!
Even though Estate Agents will find you your next home, or a buyer for your present one and Financial Advisors will sort out you mortgages – it is the conveyancers who will ensure every little bit of legal paperwork is complete and then take you over the finishing line.