Top Tips To Help The Conveyancing Process Run Smoothly

Are you in the process of buying your first home?  If so, the conveyancing process may seem a little mystifying.  However, being in possession of some top tips and understanding the conveyancing process can help you dodge some of the common pitfalls when buying your first property

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the term for transferring ownership of property from one person to another. To ensure you, as a purchaser, receive no nasty surprises after you move in, your solicitor will make several important checks on the home and the land it is on.

For most people, purchasing a home is the biggest financial transaction they will ever undertake.  We make sure that you are fully aware of the legal implications of your purchase by conducting the right searches and asking the necessary questions.

For example, does anyone have right of access or rights of way over the land? Does the owner of the property have existing obligations to adhere to, such as a lease or chancel repair liabilities? Is the property in a conservation area or have tree preservation orders which would restrict what you can do with the land? Are there plans by the local authority to build new infrastructure near or on your property which would affect your enjoyment of the land?

What your solicitor does

A conveyancing solicitor will run the necessary searches on the property, such as checking the title, any plans the local authority may have for your land or the surrounding area, along with environmental and flood risk enquiries.

They will also examine the contract drafted by the seller’s solicitor and ask any questions on your behalf.

Exchanging contracts and completion

Your solicitor will exchange contracts for you and take your deposit. This is usually done by both solicitors/conveyancers reading out the contracts over the phone (which is recorded) to make sure the contracts are identical, and then immediately posting them to each other.  A moving in date is set (known as completion) and on that day, your solicitor will pay over all the remaining monies and hand you the keys.

Once contracts have been exchanged, you are legally bound to purchase the property.

On average, straightforward property transactions take between 8-10 weeks to complete.

Tip 1 – Get your finances in place

Before you start searching for your new home, you should know what you can afford.  By obtaining a ‘mortgage in principle,’ you will be in a stronger position when you make an offer, as the seller has the assurance that you can finance your purchase.

Although you may have been with the same bank for years and know the manager well, they may not offer the best mortgage or the most competitive interest rates.  A mortgage broker can quickly scan through all the various lending institutions on the market and find one that best suits you and your circumstances.

Tip 2 – Let an estate agent help you find your perfect home

Finding your dream home these days is more likely to involve an internet search than a trip to an estate agent’s office.  However, property agents are usually aware when a home is going on the market before it is listed online.  Therefore, chat to local agents in your area of interest about the type of home you are looking for and your budget. They can then call you when a property that meets most of your specifications is added to their books.

When you do find a home that fits your requirements, remember the golden rule:

Location, Location, Location!

The worst property on the best street can always be renovated, and you are much more likely to get a return on your investment than if you choose a great house in a not-so-nice neighbourhood.

Tip 3 – Understand how to make an offer

Once you have found your dream home, the next step is to make an offer on the property.  This is usually done through an estate agent.  Making an offer involves some level of strategy; offer too little, and you risk entering a lengthy negotiation or lose the home to a buyer who trumps you.  Offer too much, and you could end up paying more you should.

If there have been other offers made on the property, an estate agent cannot legally tell you how much they were for.  Therefore, it is essential that before you make an offer, you research the market, the seller (they may be after a quick sale) and the house itself.  If you are a cash buyer then make this clear to the seller, often they will accept a lower price to gain the advantage of not having to deal with a chain.

Tip 4 – Invest in a quality conveyancing solicitor

There is no denying that purchasing your first home is a major financial commitment.  It can be easy to try and cut costs on the legal side; after all, all solicitors do is fill in a few forms, right?

Wrong.

If your conveyancing solicitor makes a mistake or has low professional standards, you could wind up paying thousands of pounds later down the line.  There is also a growing risk of cyber criminals targeting conveyancing transactions, siphoning money from accounts during the transfer phase.

So how do you assess whether a conveyancing solicitor is qualified, professional, and experienced?  Look for accreditations such as the Conveyancing Quality Accreditation from the Law Society of England and Wales and Lexcel, which is issued by the same body.  A law firm who has these accreditations must pass strict quality-control assessments to prove they have the required experience and can deliver an exceptional level of service.

In addition, a quality conveyancing solicitor will manage your transaction themselves, from start to finish.  They will also make themselves available to you, promptly returning your phone calls and/or emails and keeping you up to date with the progress of your property purchase.

In summary

In most cases, a residential conveyancing transaction is straightforward.  However, challenges and problems with the title can occur, therefore it pays to instruct an experienced conveyancing solicitor to ensure the sale and purchase goes through quickly and smoothly.

Bennett Griffin are award winning solicitors based in West Sussex with offices in central Worthing and Ferring.  Our experienced and specialist solicitors offer a comprehensive service and will work with you in an honest, considered, and practical manner.  Our residential property department is able to advise and assist you in relation to buying your first home.  Please contact us on 01903 229 999 or by email at recw@bennett-griffin.co.uk for more information.