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What is conveyancing?

If you need a Remover, then chances are you’re buying or selling a house. This means you’ll need to know about conveyancing. But what exactly is conveyancing?

We asked our friends at John Minnis Estate Agents to explain.  So whether you're an expert property mogul or first time buyer it's worth taking a few minutes to read their step-by-step guide. 

Selling Your Home- Step by Step Guide to Conveyancing 

The term 'Conveyancing' refers to all the legal and administrative work associated with transferring the ownership of land or buildings from one owner to another. The conveyancing process starts after an offer has been made by the Purchaser and accepted by the Vendor to buy a property and solicitor’s details are exchanged by the two parties.

  • The purchaser’s solicitor (p sol) will seek the contract and title deeds from the vendor’s solicitor (v sol) who will also request property certificates and searches (some solicitors wait until a mortgage offer has been received by p sol before requesting property certs and searches) NB certs can take up to 3 weeks to arrive!
  • Once received, p sol will inspect the title deeds, property certificates, searches and EPC for the property.
  • P sol will raise any queries arising from these docuements with the vendor’s solicitor
  • If the purchaser is buying with a mortgage, p sol will review the mortgage offer and ensure that all conditions can be satisfied.
  • Once p sol is satisfied that all pre-contract enquiries, property certificates, searches and mortgage conditions are in order they will arrange an appointment with purchaser
  • At the appointment they will discuss the title deeds, address any queries purchaser may have, arrange for signature of the contract and mortgage deeds and finalise a suitable completion date
  • P sol will forward a summary of the costs relating to the purchase together with payment details to purchaser to ensure that all monies are in place in time for completion
  • P sol will forward the Transfer Deed and contract to the vendor’s solicitor for acceptance together with a note of the proposed completion date and any necessary conditions. The contract (transfer deed) only becomes legally binding when the vendor has signed and it has been returned to the p sol
  • P sol will forward purchase monies to the vendor’s solicitor in time for the completion date. On the day of completion p sol will confirm funds have been received by them and that keys are ready for collection
  • Vendor sol will confirm receipt of funds and contact selling agent to advise that keys can be released to the purchaser
  • P sol will submit a Stamp Duty return and register new ownership with Land Registry. When registration is completed p sol will send the deeds to purchaser’s lender or store if cash purchase.

Selling your home is quoted as one of the most stressful times in your life but it doesn’t need to be. Understanding the process and being clear of what to expect and what is expected of you can take a lot of that stress away. 

If you are thinking of selling your property, then call the team at John Minnis today for a free valuation.

Explanation of Key Terms

Completion Date – The day on which the vendor gives physical possession of the property to the purchaser.

Contract – The legal agreement made between the purchaser and the vendor for the purchase of the land or property. The Contract will contain a description of the property being sold, the purchase price, any deposit required, the completion date and details of the vendor and purchaser. Both the vendor and purchaser must sign the Contract. Once a signed copy of the Contract is received from the vendor’s solicitor, the Contract is legally binding. The Contract will govern the terms and conditions of the sale. The terms and conditions are prescribed by the Law Society of Northern Ireland’s Home Charter Scheme.

Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) - A certificate that illustrates the energy rating and efficiency of a property.

Mortgage – A mortgage is the loan obtained by the purchaser to fund the purchase of the property. A legal mortgage is registered against the property in favour of the mortgage lender as security for the amount being loaned. Any existing mortgage must be paid off (redeemed) by the vendor when a property is being sold.

Mortgage Deed - This is the legal document signed by the purchaser which creates the mortgage thus enabling the lender to register its security over the property.

Mortgage Offer – This is the formal document which contains the terms and conditions upon which the lender is making the loan to the purchaser.

Pre-Contract Enquiries – A standard form of questions prescribed by The Law Society Home Charter Scheme which must be completed by the vendor to the best of their knowledge and provided to the purchaser’s solicitor. They mainly cover practical matters affecting the property such as works undertaken at the property, any ongoing disputes and details of the utilities and outgoings. These are accompanied by a Fixtures & Fittings list which is an inventory of all items included or excluded from the sale.

Property Certificates:-

  • A Department of the Environment (DOE) property certificate will cover matters affecting the property such as roads, water, sewerage and planning applications.
  • A Local council property certificate will cover matters affecting the property such as building control, licensing and environmental health.

Registration – All transactions involving the sale and purchase of land and property are recorded in the Land Registry. Following completion the purchaser’s solicitor will submit the Transfer Deed and Mortgage Deed to Land Registry so that the new ownership and the lender’s mortgage can be registered.

Searches – The vendor’s solicitor will normally provide the purchaser’s solicitor with the following searches:-

  • Statutory Charges Register search
  • Land Registry / Registry of Deeds search
  • Bankruptcy search against the vendor
  • Enforcement of Judgements Office search against the vendor

Stamp Duty – A government tax on property purchases. The purchaser’s solicitor is required to report all residential purchases to HMRC by submitting a stamp duty return on the purchaser’s behalf. To calculate the stamp duty owed use this useful online calculator.

Title Deeds – The official documents which confirm who owns the land or property. The purchaser’s solicitor will check the title deeds and maps to ensure that the purchaser will acquire good legal ownership. They will advise purchaser of any covenants, restrictions or rights affecting the property. If the property is subject to a mortgage the title deeds will be retained by the purchaser’s mortgage lender (bank / building society).

Transfer Deed – The legal document which is signed by the vendor in order to transfer the property to the purchaser.

Vendor – The seller of the property.


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