Buying or selling a property is a complicated process and there are all sorts of legal elements that need to be taken care of when a property is sold from one owner to another.
This is why you will need a conveyancer when you are buying or selling a home.
What does a conveyancer do?
Conveyancing is essentially the process of transferring the legal ownership of a property from one party to another, so a conveyancer is the legal firm that handles all of that for you.
As you can imagine, there are an awful lot of legal elements involved in a property sale, for both buyers and sellers.
For example, the conveyancers will need to request local authority searches for the property you are buying, which can flag up things like whether there is a public right of way through the property, whether it is subject to any compulsory purchase orders or enforcement notices, or any planning permission which may be in place.
The results of these searches are important because they may make buyers reconsider whether they want to proceed with the purchase or negotiate the price.
They will also deal with important paperwork that sellers will complete like the Seller’s Property Information Form and the Fittings and Contents Form.
If the conveyancer has any concerns during this process they will make the necessary queries on your behalf.
Your conveyancer will also get details of the property chain and its size, draw up the eventual contract for the transaction, liaise with the mortgage lender and finally ensure that it is signed and all the necessary funds are in place for the sale to complete.
What are common conveyancing costs?
The fees you will have to pay your conveyancer fall into two main categories. The first is the basic fee that you pay the conveyancer for their actual work. This figure can vary based on all sorts of different factors, from the location of the firm to how complicated the transaction is.
The second element is called disbursements, which covers payments that the conveyancer will have to make to third parties on your behalf. There can be all sorts of disbursements involved in a house sale, including:
- Local authority searches (checking for things like planning applications or restrictions which could affect the property).
- Drainage search (establishing that the property has access to correct drainage sewers).
- Land registration fees.
- Bankruptcy search (to assure the lender that you have not been declared bankrupt).
- Title deeds copies.
- Transfer fees (to cover the costs of sending money to the seller’s conveyancer).
- Stamp Duty Land Tax.
What will a conveyancer cost me?
Again, the overall costs will vary substantially by the deal, as well as whether you are buying, selling or both (there are fewer legal elements involved in selling a property).
The different disbursements can come with a wide range of fees.
For example, while Stamp Duty can run into the many thousands, as it is calculated based on the price you’re paying for the property, other elements may only cost a few pounds.
As a result, it’s really important that you are clear about exactly what is included when getting a quote from the conveyancer, and when you will need to pay.
Expect to pay between £850 and £1,500 for legal work, while disbursements are likely to rack up to between £250 and £300.
How to find a conveyancer
There are all sorts of different legal firms that offer conveyancing services, so there should be no shortage of choices open to you. If you have bought a property in the past, then you may want to stick with the conveyancer you used before, while some ask their family and friends, or even their estate agent, for recommendations. If you do ask your estate agent though check whether they are earning a commission for the recommendation.
You can also find a conveyancer through the Council for Licensed Conveyancers, the industry’s regulatory body, via its website.
Some price comparison sites even let you compare quotes for conveyancers operating in your area, in much the same way as you might get a car or home insurance quote.
Do I have to use a conveyancer?
You can handle the legal work yourself, but it’s not recommended.
Most mortgage lenders will suggest that you use a professional conveyancer to handle the legal side of your purchase, as they want to be confident that the transaction is being handled properly.
What if my deal falls through?
How much you need to pay will depend on the deal offered to you by your conveyancer. This is why it’s important to check their terms before you give them your business.
Some firms will offer a ‘no completion no fee’ deal, however, even in that situation there may be some disbursements to pay, for example, if they have already carried out land searches and bankruptcy checks.
What if I am unhappy with my conveyancer?
A bad conveyancer can make a property deal even more stressful, especially if they are slow or are poor at communicating about exactly what is happening with the transaction.
While you can complain directly to the conveyancing firm, you can also raise your concerns with independent organisations like the Legal Ombudsman and the Law Society, as well as the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
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