Conveyancing transactions can be particularly complicated and time-consuming, especially for first time buyers. However, we believe that buying a home for the first time should be an exciting and stress free experience for all involved. This is why our team offer the very best straightforward, friendly service and will guide you through the entire process to make sure your transaction goes through as smoothly and as quickly as possible. We hope that these frequently asked questions, that first time buyers are so often seeking the answers to, will provide you with the basics that you need in order to put you at ease throughout the transaction.
Q1. What are the steps of the conveyancing process for buying a property?
A Conveyancer should be instructed on acceptance of the Buyers offer. The Buyer arranges a survey on the property, and makes an application for a mortgage (if required).The Buyer's Conveyancer confirms instructions by letter, setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs. They will contact the seller's Conveyancer to obtain the contract pack.
Once received, they will raise pre-contract enquiries, carry out the necessary searches and obtain a copy of the mortgage offer. The Sellers's Conveyancer and seller answer pre-contract enquiries and return these to buyer's Conveyancer, who will then review and reports to the buyer on the contents of the contract pack, pre-contract enquiries, the result of the searches and mortgage offer.
The buyer then considers this report and raises questions on anything that is unclear. When the buyer is happy to proceed, arrangements are made for the deposit to be paid to the buyer's Conveyancer in readiness for exchange of contracts. The Seller and buyer agree on a completion date and contracts are formally "exchanged" - meaning both parties are legally committed to the transaction.
The Buyer's Conveyancer prepares a draft transfer deed and completion information form and sends these to the seller's Conveyancer for completion. The Seller's solicitor approves the draft transfer deed and a final copy is made. This may need to be signed by the buyer before being sent to the seller's solicitor for signature by the seller in readiness for completion.
The Buyer's Conveyancer prepares a completion statement, carries out pre-completion searches and applies to the buyer's mortgage lender for the mortgage loan. On completion, the buyer vacates the property by the agreed time and buyer's Conveyancer sends the proceeds of sale to the seller's Conveyancer. The Seller's Conveyancer releases the keys to the estate agent (if one was used) and sends the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer's Conveyancer together with an undertaking to repay any existing mortgage.
The Buyer's Conveyancer sends the stamp duty payable to HMRC, receives the title deeds, transfer deed and proof that the seller has paid the outstanding mortgage on the property. They also register the property in the name of the buyer at The Land Registry. The buyer receives a copy of the registered title from The Land Registry. Any documents required by the mortgage lender to be retained by them are sent on by the Buyer's solicitor.
Q2. What paperwork will clients need to supply?
All clients are required supply their ID and proof of address, usually a utility bill or bank statement dated within the last 3 months. If the clients are selling the property and it is unregistered they must provide us with, or the authority to obtain, the title deeds to the property, and any other relevant documentation to the property. Sellers will be given forms to complete and depending on their answers the form indicates the additional documentation required. If the clients are purchasing a property they will need to provide us with evidence to demonstrate their source of funds, we detail the acceptable documents once we know where the funds are coming from. There may be additional paperwork required and the Conveyancer will review this on a case by case basis.
Q3. How does a solicitor make the conveyancing process easier for clients?
The right solicitor will guide you through the process step-by-step and advise you as to any potential issues that may arise as well as how these can be resolved.
In order to successfully transfer title, buyers need to ensure that the seller is the owner of the property and has the right to sell it. Securing "good" title enables the buyer to acquire a mortgage or later sell the property. Buyers must also avoid other problems affecting the value of the property; unexpected access rights by third parties, requirements for the upkeep of a fence, the list goes on.
Our Solicitors can assist with this process by carrying out searches, investigating legal title, liaising with the lender to obtain any mortgage funds required, repaying any existing mortgage, and registering ownership on completion.
Sellers must ensure that negotiations regarding the sale are made subject to contract until they are satisfied with the buyer and the terms of sale.
Q4. What can first-time buyers do to make the conveyancing process run more smoothly?
When people embark on a house move, many believe that if all parties are willing, it should take place relatively quickly and easily. Unfortunately, there are numerous stumbling blocks that can delay the transaction, ranging from the buyer or vendor being slow to respond to information requests, to conveyancing searches revealing potential issues. These tips should assist first time buyers to ensure that the conveyancing process runs smoothly:
- Have your mortgage in place before you find your home.
Knowing how much you have available to borrow and arranging a mortgage in principle means that once an offer has been accepted you can get on with the legalities. Applying for a mortgage can bring a whole host of problems in itself, so arranging this in advance can really help. Our advice would be to decide how much you can afford to borrow, secure the agreement and then find the property.
- Use estate agents rather than trying to go it alone.
It can be tempting to try going it alone if you're thinking of the money you could save, but a good estate agent will also act as a go-between for buyer and seller, smoothing the waters when things get choppy, advising on unforeseen problems, and help to ensure a smooth transaction.
- Fill in forms promptly and accurately.
The quicker you can respond to requests for information, the quicker your agent and solicitor will be able to move on to the next stage of the process. It is also important to complete forms as carefully and accurately as possible in order to avoid mistakes that will then use up valuable time being identified and rectified.
- Stay on top of the process.
There are a lot of elements to pull together in the house-buying process and it can be easy to lose track of where you're up to. It's important to know how each stage is progressing and to stay on top of what can be a long and confusing process. If one element seems to be slowing things down, find out why and whether there's anything you could be doing to speed things up.
- Prepare your finances.
There are bound to be times during the move when you'll feel like there are constant demands for your cash. Be prepared that there will be lots of fees to pay for - so you'll need to have money available.
Q5. What tips would you give to first-time buyers about to step onto the property ladder?
The biggest tip that we can give a first-time buyer is to instruct a Conveyancer they trust. As a first-time buyer it is all new and potentially daunting, but the right Conveyancer will take the time to guide them through each step of the process. It is not necessary that they know and understand everything straight away, but they can feel secure knowing that the right Conveyancer will take the lead. Your Conveyancer is also crucial when it comes to speeding up the process – but a good one will flag up potential problems and deal with them quickly too. Maintaining the mantra that first homebuyers should enjoy the process of buying their first home as much as possible, our Conveyancers will deal with your case personally, taking responsibility and keep you updated throughout every stage of the process.
If you would like to speak to a member of the Clapham & Collinge Conveyancing team, or you would like a free no obligation quotation, contact us today on 01603 693500 or email us using 'Make an enquiry' form. Appointments available at our Norwich, North Walsham, and Sheringham offices.
*This article is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or other professional advice.
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