When Does Conveyancing Start?
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from one party to another. It is an essential part of buying or selling a home in the UK. The conveyancing process can seem complex to those unfamiliar with the steps involved. An important question for both buyers and sellers is when the conveyancing process begins. Understanding the key events that trigger the start of conveyancing is crucial for ensuring a smooth transaction. This article will examine the typical events marking the commencement of conveyancing when selling or buying a residential property in the UK.
What is Conveyancing?
Conveyancing refers to the legal, administrative and paperwork processes involved when property ownership is transferred from one party to another. It is usually required during home buying and selling but also applies to other property transfers like remortgage. Only qualified specialists like solicitors and licenced conveyancers can provide conveyancing services, as specialist legal knowledge is required. Key conveyancing tasks include conducting searches, verifying title deeds, drafting transfer documents, resolving queries and executing contracts. The conveyancer oversees everything legally required to help a property sale or purchase be completed successfully. Good conveyancers proactively communicate with buyers, sellers and estate agents to ensure swift progress of transactions.
When Does Conveyancing Commence?
The conveyancing process does not begin at a single defined point. It commences in stages, with certain key trigger events marking the start for buyers and sellers respectively. Below is when conveyancing effectively starts from both buyer and seller perspectives during a typical property transaction in the UK:
Seller’s Conveyancing Commencement
For the seller, instructing a conveyancer marks the beginning of conveyancing. This usually occurs once they have:
- Appointed an estate agent to market the property
- Accepted an offer from a prospective buyer
- Exchanged contracts with the buyer
The seller engaging a conveyancer is recommended when initially appointing an estate agent. This prepares a buyer to make an offer and allows conveyancing work to commence immediately after an offer is accepted. If the seller delays appointing a conveyancer until the exchange of contracts, this risks postponing necessary conveyancing tasks and slowing transaction progress.
Appointing the conveyancer early also allows property sales documentation to be drafted in readiness for a buyer’s conveyancer. The seller’s conveyancer can initiate title deed checks and prepare information forms for the buyer. Taking these proactive steps ensures a smoother conveyancing process later on.
Buyer’s Conveyancing Commencement
For the buyer, instructing a conveyancer also indicates the start of conveyancing. The typical trigger points prompting this include:
- Having an offer accepted on a property
- Paying a holding deposit and agreeing on a completion date
- Receiving the draft contract and property information forms
As soon as the seller accepts an offer, the buyer is advised to appoint a conveyancer, pay the holding deposit and provide proof of mortgage funding. This enables the buyer’s conveyancer to immediately request the draft sales contract and property information packs from the seller’s representatives.
With these documents, the buyer’s conveyancer can commence important searches and checks on the property’s title deeds, fixtures and fittings. A prudent buyer appointing their conveyancer promptly can frontload conveyancing tasks to help transactions proceed quickly if they wish to quickly sell the house.
Can Conveyancing Begin Before These Points?
Whilst these points represent the typical commencement of conveyancing, it is possible for certain tasks to begin beforehand:
The seller can instruct a conveyancer to begin preparing property information forms and sales documentation in advance of appointing an estate agent or accepting an offer. This is useful if they know they will sell and allows key details to be ready early. However, the seller will incur fees for work conducted before formally commencing conveyancing by appointing an agent.
Eager buyers can also instruct a conveyancer before any offer is made or accepted. This allows conveyancers to be ready to swiftly execute searches and checks if an offer is suddenly accepted. However, as no property address is confirmed early on, only generic guidance can be given. Fees also apply before formal conveyancing commencement.
In summary, conveyancing unofficially begins for buyers and sellers before defined trigger points if preparatory work is frontloaded by conveyancers. However, this incurs fees whilst awaiting the transaction formally commencing.
Key Conveyancing Stages and Timescales
Below are the typical key stages and timescales involved during a conveyancing transaction, from commencement to completion:
Seller’s Conveyancing Stages
- Instruct conveyancer – Days 1- 10
- Prepare property documents – Days 1 – 20
- Negotiate and agree contract – Days 10 – 40
- Complete pre-exchange searches – Days 15 – 50
- Sign contracts & exchange – Around Day 50
- Buyer completes purchase – Day 80 or agreed date
Buyer’s Conveyancing Stages
- Instruct conveyancer – Days 1-10
- Review draft contracts & property documents – Days 10 – 30
- Conduct searches on the property – Days 15 – 60
- Resolve enquiries with seller – Days 20 – 70
- Mortgage offer received – Around Day 50
- Sign contracts & exchange – Around Day 50
- Finalise move details with conveyancer – Days 50 – 80
- Complete purchase & obtain keys – Day 80 or agreed date
These timescales give broad indications only. Transactions can take 6 -12 weeks from offer acceptance to completion, depending on complexity.
Importance of Acting Fast
As Seen on The Advisory
It is in both the seller’s and buyer’s interests to waste no time appointing a conveyancer and initiating key processes once the typical commencement trigger points are reached. Any delays risk slowing transaction progress, especially if other parties are ready to move ahead promptly.
For sellers wanting a quick, smooth sale, having property documents ready for their conveyancer ahead of marketing the property is wise. This gets the sales process off to a flying start once an offer comes in.
Equally, buyers should appoint their conveyancer as soon as an offer is accepted, so that important searches providing insight into the property and title deeds can commence immediately.
Conveyancing transactions require excellent communication and responsiveness between the parties throughout the process. The sooner it commences, the faster progress can be made towards exchange and completion.
Choosing the Right Conveyancer
To help ensure conveyancing gets off to a prompt start, both sellers and buyers should research conveyancers thoroughly before appointing one. Reviewing online profiles, testimonials and reviews can indicate experience levels and responsiveness.
Opt for a conveyancer who specialises in residential transactions, has extensive knowledge of local property issues and works digitally to communicate quickly. Reputation for proactivity, transparency and completing deals swiftly will give confidence.
Ask conveyancers detailed questions on timescales before instructing one. Avoid firms taking weeks to merely commence work. Delays here set an unresponsive tone for the transaction.
While conveyancer quotes are important, beware of simply appointing the cheapest option. Assess value, service levels and expertise.
In summary, whilst conveyancing commencement timescales are guided by certain events and trigger points, taking a proactive approach is key. As soon as there is an indication a property transaction is advancing, like putting a house on the market, the seller should get documents ready and instruct a conveyancer to shave time off later. For buyers, having a conveyancer ready to act as soon as an offer is accepted prevents delay. Conveyancing commencing quickly and efficiently then has the best chance of completing smoothly and satisfyingly for all parties. The adage ‘make haste slowly’ is very apt.
- Conveyancing officially commences when the seller instructs a conveyancer and the buyer does likewise.
- However, preparatory work can begin beforehand to give a head start when transactions begin.
- The sooner sellers and buyers appoint conveyancers and initiate key processes, the quicker the transaction can progress.
- Choosing an expert conveyancer known for responsiveness and proactivity is vital to start promptly.
- Effectively commenced conveyancing lays the foundations for a streamlined completion.