Why Do You Need A Conveyancer When Buying A House?
Purchasing a residential property in England or Wales is a major legal transaction involving substantial sums of money changing hands. To ensure their interests are protected when buying a house, smart buyers always appoint a qualified conveyancer. Conveyancing solicitors or licenced conveyancers handle the legal work associated with property transfers on behalf of buyers and sellers. This guide explains what residential conveyancers do at each stage of a purchase transaction and why their professional expertise is essential.
Verification of Title
A key role of the conveyancer acting for the buyer is to verify the seller has legal ownership of the property and the right to sell it. They investigate the title and associated rights attached to the property. This involves checking:
- The title register, deeds and documents are provided by the seller’s conveyancer.
- For any restrictions on use e.g. building covenants.
- If other rights exist over the property e.g. access or drainage rights benefiting neighbours.
- That correct notices have been served if leasehold.
Without this verification, the buyer risks purchasing a property the seller does not own or cannot legally sell. The buyer’s conveyancer confirms the title before the exchange of contracts.
Reviewing Property Information
The buyer’s conveyancer reviews various property information forms completed by the seller. These disclose any issues impacting the property from flooding risks to boundary disputes. Scrutinising this information lets the conveyancer identify potential risks requiring further investigation. These risks may influence the buyer’s offer price. Without expert review, issues may get overlooked by the buyer.
Handling Pre-Contract Enquiries
The buyer’s conveyancer raises pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s conveyancer to clarify uncertainties and flush out potential issues. Typically around 40 standard questions are raised about aspects like boundaries, planning consents and disputes. The seller’s replies form part of the contract. Without a conveyancer, buyers may not identify pertinent enquiries to raise.
Arranging Property Searches
The conveyancer arranges building, water drainage, environmental and other searches related to the property. Any issues revealed, such as plans for nearby developments, can affect the buyer’s decision. Conveyancers know which searches are prudent for each property location.
Advising on the Mortgage Offer
Most buyers need a mortgage to fund their purchase. The conveyancer reviews the mortgage offer terms to check the loan amount, interest rate, repayment period and conditions are acceptable to the buyer. This helps prevent misunderstandings about mortgage affordability later on.
Drafting and Negotiating Contracts
The conveyancer is responsible for drafting the legally binding contracts documenting the agreed terms of sale, ensuring the buyer’s interests are protected. They negotiate terms between the parties and advise the buyer on their meaning. Without this legal oversight, buyers risk agreeing to undesirable terms.
Facilitating Joint Ownership
Where there are joint buyers, such as an unmarried couple purchasing together, the conveyancer can provide a cohabitation agreement outlining ownership percentages and rights if the relationship ends. This clarity safeguards both parties.
The conveyancer exchanges the final signed contracts between the parties to legally bind the sale. This exchange transforms the property’s status from ‘sold subject to contract’ meaning not yet legally binding, to a secure transaction under legal obligation to complete. The conveyancer oversees this intricate process.
Obtaining the Transfer Deed
On completion day, the conveyancer obtains the signed transfer deed document from the seller’s conveyancer which conveys ownership and must be stamped and registered with HM Land Registry. Using a conveyancer means buyers receive this vital transfer deed promptly and securely.
Registration with Land Registry
Once the purchase is completed, the conveyancer registers the buyer’s ownership with the Land Registry. This requires submitting key documents like the transfer deed, mortgage deed and application forms. Registration provides proof the buyer is the new legal owner. Without a conveyancer, buyers may not promptly or correctly register their ownership.
Handling Completion Formalities
The conveyancer deals with completion steps like paying stamp duty, registering council tax details and utility transfers. They also supply the buyer with the official Title Register document from the Land Registry as legal proof of the purchase. Handling administrative loose ends saves the buyer time and stress.
In essence, conveyancers handle the entire legal process, paperwork and formalities involved in buying a residential property to ensure the transaction completes swiftly while protecting the buyer’s interests. Navigating the complexities alone poses a substantial risk for buyers.
Why Conveyancers Protect Buyers
Engaging a qualified conveyancer provides home buyers with considerable legal protection and assurance during the biggest purchase of their lives.
Legal expertise – Conveyancers have specialist qualifications and experience in residential property law which buyers lack. Their legal knowledge protects buyers during conveyancing.
Contract experience – Conveyancers draft watertight contracts while ensuring fairness to buyers. Without this, contractual disputes can arise.
Verification skills – Conveyancers thoroughly investigate titles, planning permissions and restrictions on the property, giving buyers confidence they are buying what they expect.
Objectivity – Conveyancers remain impartial so can advise if any aspects are unfavourable to the buyer and need renegotiation. They act only in the buyer’s interests.
Communication skills – Conveyancers liaise expertly with the seller’s representatives, mortgage lender and Land Registry, avoiding misunderstandings jeopardising the transaction.
Due diligence – Conveyancers conduct or arrange all necessary property searches, enquiries and checks to highlight potential purchase risks for buyers early on.
Administration – Conveyancers manage all documents, contracts, applications and procedures required around completion making the process smooth and straightforward for buyers.
In essence, having an expert conveyancer protects buyers against legal risks, smooths the administration, provides specialist advice when needed and ensures the buyer’s legal rights and interests remain protected throughout the transaction. They oversee the entire complex process on the buyer’s behalf.
Buying a home remains the most expensive and legally complex purchase most people undertake in their lifetime. Engaging a professional conveyancer offers buyers guidance, legal expertise and practical assistance through the conveyancing process. From verifying title and arranging searches to securing the transfer deed and registering the purchase, conveyancers handle it all, providing buyers with experience, insights and protection they lack when purchasing a property. For buyers, the peace of mind and legal security a conveyancer provides makes their fees a worthwhile investment.