Conveyancing When Selling A House
Selling a residential property in the UK requires going through the conveyancing process to legally transfer ownership from seller to buyer. Conveyancing ensures the seller’s interests are protected, obligations are met, and the transaction is completed efficiently. For the seller, conveyancing focuses on gathering information about the property, providing this to the buyer’s conveyancer, addressing any enquiries, and executing the contractual paperwork. When done right, conveyancing facilitates a smooth sale. This guide examines the conveyancing steps and requirements involved when putting your house on the market.
Instructing a Conveyancer
The first step upon deciding to sell is appointing an experienced, regulated conveyancer or solicitor to act on your behalf. They should specialise in residential conveyancing within the area where your property is located. Conveyancing professionals belong to organisations like the Law Society or Council for Licenced Conveyancers and must follow strict codes of practice. Ask for recommendations or search online to find someone reputable. Schedule an initial meeting to discuss the property, your situation, and the conveyancing process. Be ready to provide the key details listed below.
Preparing Documents About the Property
Your conveyancer needs documentation describing the property and proving your ownership. This includes:
- Title deeds – These show legal ownership and rights attached to the property. They may consist of the latest title register showing the Land Registry’s record of ownership, as well as any original conveyance deeds.
- Filed plans – These show the property layout lodged at the Land Registry when registering ownership. The official plans define legal boundaries.
- Land Registry title information – This confirms registration details and any loans secured against the property.
- Planning consents – Details of approvals granted for construction, extensions or alterations.
- Building regulations consent – Permissions granted for structural work.
- Leasehold documents – If leasehold, provide the lease, deeds of variation or assignment, and regulations for common facilities.
- EPC certificate – This Energy Performance Certificate assesses the property’s energy efficiency rating.
- Instruction manuals – For any systems and appliances included in the sale.
Your conveyancer will check through these documents, highlight any issues impacting the sale, and use the information to draft the contract package for the buyer’s conveyancer.
Pre-Contract Property Enquiries
The buyer’s conveyancer will raise standard enquiries about the property. Your conveyancer sends back formal written replies with legally binding answers covering:
- Fixtures and fittings – Clarifying what items are included or excluded from the sale. The fixtures and fittings form provides this detail.
- Occupiers – Confirming who currently lives at the property and their associated rights.
- Charges – Providing details of debts or loans secured on the property that will be paid off when selling.
- Notices – Disclosing any legal disputes or claims affecting the property.
- Alterations – Outlining changes made, like extensions, during your ownership along with the necessary consents.
- Boundaries – Identifying any boundary disputes or responsibilities.
- Environmental matters – Declaring issues like flooding, subsidence and radon gas.
- Disputes – Stating any disagreements over shared or adjoining property, for instance, rights of way disputes.
- Major works – Describing nearby developments that can impact the property.
Your honest responses protect against future claims once the sale is completed.
Property Information Forms
You must complete various property information forms that the buyer relies upon when proceeding with the purchase. These require disclosing:
- Property defects – Any structural or non-structural issues present.
- Alterations – Unapproved construction works conducted without consent.
- Boundaries – Confusion or disputes over the extent of ownership.
- Neighbour disputes – Arguments over rights of way, tree ownership, noise etc.
- Notices – Any current or recent planning or building notices.
- Flooding – Susceptibility to flooding or previous incidents.
- Subsidence – Any ground movement experienced.
- Asbestos – Presence of asbestos-containing materials.
- Environmental issues – Contamination, radon gas, landfill, fracking etc.
- Services – Problems relating to drainage, water, gas, electricity or phone lines.
- Guarantees – Any warranties or protection schemes valid for the property.
Answering thoroughly protects you from future liability once the property changes hands. Omitting known issues can invalidate insurance and lead to legal claims down the line. Most buyers request a Redbook RICS HouseBuyers Report detailing any property defects.
For leasehold properties, additional information is needed such as:
- Lease terms – Including length outstanding and provisions for renewal.
- Restrictions – On alterations and property usage.
- Service charges – Costs payable to the management company covering shared upkeep.
- Ground rent – The annual rent payable under the terms of the lease.
- Regulations – Governing shared amenities and leaseholder responsibilities.
- Notices – From the freeholder regarding service charge arrears, breaches of lease etc.
Your conveyancer can advise on your lease obligations and what needs clarifying during conveyancing.
Draft Contract Package
With all property information gathered, your conveyancer prepares a draft contract package and sends this to the buyer’s conveyancer. This includes:
- Draft sale contract – Recording the agreed price and identifying the property.
- Title documents – Title register, filed plan, original conveyance deed etc.
- Fixtures and fittings form
- Property information forms
- Leasehold information if applicable
- Energy Performance Certificate
- Supporting documents like planning consent
The buyer’s conveyancer will investigate this pack, validate your ownership, raise extra enquiries if needed, and ultimately advise the buyer on proceeding with the purchase.
Once the buyer is satisfied with having reviewed the property information, contracts can be exchanged. Your conveyancer will request the buyer’s solicitor or licenced conveyancer provide:
- Signed sale contract and deposit – Typically 10% of the purchase price.
- Confirmation of mortgage finance – If needed.
- Completion date – The date ownership will transfer.
Exchanging commits both parties to complete on the agreed date typically 1 to 2 weeks later for residential property. If either party withdraws at this point, penalties apply.
Between Exchange and Completion
After exchanging, your conveyancer handles outstanding tasks including:
- Arrange to discharge any mortgage – Repay outstanding lending secured on the property.
- Transfer utilities – Inform utility providers and read meters on completion day.
- Apportion ground rent and service charges – Between you and the buyer for the period of their ownership.
- Vacate the property – Remove all your belongings and any excluded fixtures.
- Conduct final checks – No further property damage or alterations have occurred.
- Agree on receipt of funds – Confirm transfer method and account details.
This marks the final step where legal ownership transfers to the buyer. Your conveyancer oversees the simultaneous exchange of money and keys to complete the transaction.
- Funds arrive – The funds are electronically transferred from the buyer’s conveyancer’s account.
- Keys released – Your conveyancer authorises the estate agent to release the keys.
- New owner – The buyer can pick up the keys and take possession as the new legal owner.
Your conveyancer files the transfer deed at the Land Registry to register the change of ownership. Once registered, the Land Registry issues an updated title register to the buyer as proof of legal ownership. The entire conveyancing process now concludes.
Conveyancing when selling a house involves collating documentation, disclosing property information, responding to enquiries, signing the contract, and ultimately overseeing exchange of the funds to facilitate completion. Your conveyancer guides you through meeting your legal obligations as a seller. Conveyancing may seem like unfamiliar territory but with an expert conveyancer acting in your interests, the process can be straightforward. They will handle the complexity leaving you confident your sale progresses efficiently.