Your step by step guide to Conveyancing
Once a sale has been agreed and solicitors instructed, legal formalities will go through the following stages. Sometimes additional steps will be required - for example, if the property is Leasehold or is yet to be registered with the Land Registry.
Seller's Solicitors Steps
- Obtain a copy of the Title Deeds or Office Copy Entries from HM Land Registry (if the Title is registered)
- Obtain a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
- The Seller(s) will return a completed Property Information Form and a Fixtures and Fittings Form to the Solicitors.
- Copies of the relevant documentation and a draft Contract will be sent to the buyer's solicitors - formerly known as the Contact Pack.
- Additional Enquiries will be raised and answered (for example, specific questions about the property, boundary, and any planning consents etc)
- Agree the Contact and arrange for the seller(s) to sign in readiness for exchange of Contracts.
- All parties agree a completion date and Contracts are exchanged.
Between exchange and completion
- Obtain redemption figures form the mortgage lender and reply to Requisitions on Title.
- Approve the Transfer of Title and arrange for the seller(s) and buyer(s) to sign
- Receive the agent's statement of fee and seek the seller(s) consent to settle out of proceeds of completion funds.
This is the date the ownership of the property passes from the seller(s) to the buyer(s).
- Receive completion funds and instructions are received via the solicitor to release the keys to the buyers. Any mortgage is redeemed, and a financial completion statement is provided. Return any surplus funds (unless being used to fund an onward purchase). Ensure all outstanding fees are settled.
- Forward Transfer documents and Deed's to the buyer's solicitors
- Forward evidence of discharge of mortgage to the buyer's solicitors
Buyer's Solicitor's steps
- Obtain the Contract Pack, including a copy of the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) from the seller's solicitors and raise any additional enquiries
- Initiate relevant searches for example, Local Authority Search, environmental, water, chancel repair etc.
- Raise any enquiries of the seller's solicitors as a result of the above search results
- Approve the Contract when all enquiries are acceptable and complete. At this stage, a mortgage Transfer Deed will be signed and witnessed.
- Receive a mortgage offer and instructions from the lender and deal with any conditions set out by them. Check that buildings insurance is being arranged in readiness for exchange of Contracts.
- Request the deposit, report back to the buyer; and arrange for the Contract to be signed. Buildings insurance and life cover (if applicable) to be in place.
- All parties agree a completion date and the Contracts are exchanged.
Between exchange and completion
- Raise pre-Contact “Requisitions on Title” and prepare the draft Transfer Deed.
- Report on Title to mortgage lender and obtain funds for completion, including Stamp Duty (if applicable)
- Prepare accounts, obtain signature to Mortgage Deed and undertake final Land Registry and Land Charges searches
This is the date the ownership of the property passes from the seller(s) to the buyer(s) and it follows the transfer of funds.
- Forward to the seller's solicitors the balance of funds to enable them to authorise the release of the keys.
- Receive from the seller's solicitors the Transfer Deeds/documents.
- Register the buyer's ownership with the Land Registry and forward the Deeds to the lender or client (as applicable)
Glossary of Terms
The agreement that sets out the terms that have been agreed - for example, the names, address, purchase price etc. Two copies are drawn up and each party signs one in readiness for the exchange of Contracts.
A proportion of the purchase price (usually 10%) which the buyer pays on exchange of Contracts.
Exchange of Contracts
The swapping of signed Contracts by the solicitors together with the buyer's deposit in readiness for completion. After this step, the Contract is legally binding.
Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)
This is a Government requirement and contains information on energy performance, energy use, carbon dioxide emissions and fuel costs.
The Government department that registers and records who owns what land and under what conditions as set out in Office Copy Entries and Title Deeds of properties.
Local Authority Search
A list of questions that are specific to the property and the property surroundings, for example, to determine if there have been any planning applications on the property etc.
Mortgage Redemption Figure
The amount required to repay the outstanding capital/interest of a mortgage including any early redemption fees/terms.
Property Information Form/Fixtures, Fittings and Contents Form
Forms completed by the seller about the property for their solicitor to be provided to the buyer's solicitor. They detail what will be left at the property, who owns what boundary etc.
Legal documentation that proves ownership of property/land and the terms in which they are owned.
Transfer of Title
The document that passes the ownership from the seller to the buyer.
Stamp Duty Land Tax
Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) is a tax paid on the purchase of a property in England and Northern Ireland.
SDLT is charged at different rates depending on the purchase price of a property.
SDLT rates from 23 September 2022
Additional Property Rate
Less than £250,000
£250,000 - £925,000
£925,000 - £1.5m
*An additonal property purchased for less than £40k will attract 0% tax. For purchases from £40k to £250k, the SDLT rate will be 3% on full purchase price.
First Time Buyers
There is relief available for first time buyers for property purchases below specific thresholds. First time buyers will not pay any stamp duty on property purchases below £425,000.
Additional property types include buy to let investments and second homes.