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What Is a Conveyancing Solicitor?

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A conveyancing solicitor is a solicitor that specialises in residential property (the law and procedure which applies to houses and flats that people live in). Whilst in theory it is possible to do your own conveyancing, in reality a good conveyancing solicitor is essential for buying or selling any type of property. There’s a common misconception that a conveyancing solicitor does little more than fill out all of the legal paperwork involved in a property sale or purchase. The truth is that there’s a lot more to the conveyancing process than that and a good conveyancing solicitor is very hands-on in coordinating a lot of things going on at once and making things happen for you.

The role of a conveyancing solicitor will change depending on whether they represent the buyer or the seller of the property. If you are moving from one property to another, your conveyancing solicitor will often represent you in your sale and your purchase (and we always recommend this so that your wishes on the coordination of the two can be most easily managed). The buyer’s conveyancing solicitor will have more to do and has more responsibilities in all cases.

For most people, buying and selling property are amongst the most high value and important transactions they do in their lives, so you want everything to be right. That means knowing exactly what’s being bought and ensuring that the buyer owns the property when everything is complete. What is conveyancing solicitors’ work, and why is it so important?

What Is Conveyancing?

Get the conveyancing process wrong, and there could be future disputes, such as car parking restrictions or finding out that the land where a property sits is owned by someone not involved in the sale.

Conveyancing covers the work needed to carry out all administrative and legal work required to transfer property ownership from the seller to the buyer. It’s a process that usually begins once the buyer has made an offer on a property that’s been accepted by the seller.

The conveyancing process is finished once all of the contracts have been signed, money has been transferred, the Stamp Duty has been paid, and the land registry has sent a copy of the necessary legal documents to the buyer’s conveyancing solicitor.

What Does a Conveyancing Solicitor Do?

So what are a conveyancing solicitor’s responsibilities and tasks? A conveyancing solicitor has to juggle taking care of all the details (and there are a lot of details!) whilst keeping everything moving in the right order (usually a number of things are going on at once such as property searches being returned and mortgage offers being issued) and keeping everyone who needs to know in the loop. As you can imagine, transferring legal ownership of a property from one person to another means a lot of paperwork, but conveyancing solicitors do a lot more than simply filling out forms. As a broad overview, a good conveyancing solicitor will:

Seller’s Solicitor Buyer’s Solicitor Both Solicitors
Communicate with any mortgage broker involved to keep them in the loop from start to finish. Communicate with their client, and any estate agent involved in the transaction to keep everything on track and everybody in the loop from start to finish.
Send seller’s property information form(s) to the seller for completion, help them with anything they are stuck on/unclear about (there are a lot of questions!) and get these back from the seller along with any supporting documentation they have e.g (planning documents, guarantees) ID their client(s), get them ‘signed up’ and take initial payment
Put together the ‘Contract Pack’ (the Draft Sale Contract, Title (the documents that show the seller owns the property) and seller’s property information form(s) (detailed form(s) filled in by the seller giving lots of information about the property being sold).
Issue the ‘Contract Pack’ Check and advise on the ‘Contract Pack’
Advise on and arrange all appropriate property searches and answer any questions the buyer has on organising their survey (the survey is organised by the buyer in discussion with their lender if they are using a mortgage).
Reply to enquiries raised by the buyer’s solicitors Make enquiries of the sellers solicitors
Act for the buyer’s lender as well as the buyer if they are using a mortgage.
Exchange contracts (this is when the Buyer is legally committed to buying the property).
Complete contracts (this is when the buyer gets the keys).
Receive payment Transfer payment
Send payment to discharge any mortgage and/or other debts secured on the property File the stamp duty information with the revenue and send the appropriate stamp duty payment to them
Correctly register everything at the land registry (register the property in the buyer’s name and register any mortgage in the lender’s name).
Advise their client to register with the land registry’s free property alert service to help prevent future fraud on the property. Advise their client to consider updating their will

What Is a Conveyancing Solicitor?

A conveyancing solicitor is a member of the Law Society and is a qualified solicitor. They will specialise in conveyancing and will likely have other legal experience.

While all solicitors are considered to be qualified when it comes to conveyancing, the fact is that not all of them have experience in doing so. That’s why it’s always smarter to hire a solicitor for your conveyancing who has specialised in this area of the law. For your added peace of mind, Lockings Solicitors are accredited members of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme.

What Does “Caveat Emptor” Mean?

One of those Latin phrases still used in today’s legal profession, caveat emptor simply means “let the buyer beware”. It puts the responsibility for spotting any property defects or legal restrictions about that property onto the buyer rather than the seller.

Because of caveat emptor, someone buying a property will have no legal claim if property ownership is transferred and the buyer then finds out the property is not as it was sold. The only time that can be contested is if the seller went out of their way to hide any building restrictions or property defects.

That’s why it’s so important to have a good conveyancing solicitor on your side when buying a property who will have the training and the experience to know what might be an issue and highlight risks that you might not be prepared to take. Some of the most common legal issues, and the areas where your conveyancing solicitor will conduct heavy research, include:

  • The right of the seller to sell the property
  • Planning permission
  • Rights of way
  • Use restrictions such as whether you can have pets on the property
  • Window guarantees
  • Gas boiler certification

Even the slightest mistake can have long-term effects on you and your property so it’s essential to go with an expert conveyancing solicitor who can get things done without missing something important.

Use a Conveyancing Solicitor

It takes time and hard work to go through the entire process of buying a new property. From viewings to making an offer, there are a lot of hoops that have to be jumped through. With the right conveyancing solicitor, the process becomes much easier.

If you’d like to learn more about the conveyancing process, you can download our handy Conveyancing & Property Guide. If you’re interested in buying or selling a property, whether it’s your first home, an upsizer or a downsizer, you can contact us today for a free, no-obligation chat about what you need.

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