Buying your first home can be a confusing process, particularly when it comes to conveyancing.
Taking your first step on to the property ladder can be an exciting time.
But for those who have never been involved in a property purchase, the conveyancing process can often seem hard to understand.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the word used to describe the legal steps involved in buying or selling a property and is carried out by a legal professional or solicitor known as a conveyancer.
It includes checking the legal title to a property – that is, whether the house or flat is actually the vendor’s to sell.
It also includes arranging searches to highlight any potential issues that may affect your decision to buy it.
For example, a water and drainage search confirms whether the property is connected to the public sewers and mains water.
And an environmental search will highlight any contamination or flooding issues in the vicinity.
A conveyancer will also deal with payment between parties when the transaction completes.
Is it the same as surveying?
Conveyancing is not the same as surveying.
A survey is concerned with the physical condition of the property and is something that should be carried out by a professional registered with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors.
A surveyor will check physical matters which could affect the value of the property, such as its structural soundness.
If you are getting a mortgage, your lender will usually send its own surveyor to the property to carry out a valuation.
However, this is not the same as a full-blown survey and you should instruct your own surveyor.
Why do you need a conveyancer?
Buying a house is one of the most expensive things you’ll do and the legal process can be very complicated.
As a result, you need someone to give you the right advice and this is what conveyancers are here for.
How much does conveyancing cost?
What you pay your conveyancer varies depending on the value of the property and the circumstances surrounding the transaction.
For example, if the property is a listed building or in a conservation area the legalities involved may be more complicated so the fee may be higher.
Conveyancers tend to offer a fixed fee for their work, but disbursements – the costs which a conveyancer pays on your behalf, such as searches and stamp duty – may fluctuate.
How long does conveyancing take?
If everything goes to plan, on average it takes approximately one to three months from the time you agree to buy or sell the property until you move in.
The biggest hold up is often waiting for confirmation of your mortgage offer.
So buyers would be best advised to get their mortgage arrangements in place from the outset.
How do you choose between companies?
As with any service it is always advisable to shop around for different quotes.
However, conveyancing tends to be competitive, so if you obtain a quote that seems too good to be true it probably is.
Any final advice?
Finally, as well as being an expert in property matters, your conveyancer should be approachable and easy to talk with.
Having direct contact with the person who is dealing with your case is always advisable, to help guide you through the process.
In my experience, the best way to find a good conveyancer is to get recommendations from family and friends who have been through the process. At GMH Legal solicitors, we assist our clients daily in their conveyancing needs, and are ready to assist you when the time is right.
Should you have a conveyancing question, call one of our solicitors on