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5 Top Tips to simple, stress-free Conveyancing

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You’ve been looking for ages and you’ve finally found it – your dream house, the next chapter, happy days… so what happens next?

Now that you can give the Conveyancing Process the green light, it’s time to get serious.

Buying and/or selling a house is one of the biggest financial transactions you’ll ever make in a lifetime, so getting it right is important.

Do your research, don’t cut corners and be prepared – follow our 5 Top Tips to help avoid pitfalls, manage expectations and ensure your experience is as stress-free as possible:

 

1. Choose the right solicitor

This is an important one as your conveyancing solicitor will be managing the whole process on your behalf and is your point of contact. Ask family and friends for recommendations, research online reviews and make contact with local experienced conveyancers for quotes.

Be sure to ask for written estimates of all costs and expenses. Quotes will often exclude certain disbursements which are additional charges for simple tasks that should/could be included in the basic fee - make a point of asking if the conveyancer charges additional costs for things like issuing an indemnity or acting for a main high street lending bank or building society. Whilst price will always be factor, such disbursements can eventually turn a seemingly cheap quote into a considerably more expensive one.

Choose someone you like and trust, someone who communicates regularly and focusses on solutions.

Considerations: if a conveyancer is recommended by your estate agent, be mindful to ask why they are recommended particularly and whether there is any referral arrangement between them; also, never instruct the same conveyancer as your seller/buyer.

 

2. Caveat emptor

A Latin legal term of yonder year for ‘Let the buyer beware’, caveat emptor still applies today in contract law principles. It means that the buyer alone is responsible for checking the quality and suitability of the property before a purchase is made.

In essence, always obtain a survey of the property before you exchange contracts – it is too late afterwards. Your survey should constitute an inspection of the whole of the land including the dwelling, pipes, wires, drains, sewers; and internally water pipes, electrical wiring, consumer units and all gas/oil installations.

It’s important to note a lenders’ survey is more of a valuation, conducted for the benefit of the lender to ensure sufficient security for the mortgage that is being taken. Buyers should not rely on a lender’s survey and ensure that an independent survey is completed.

Ignore ‘caveat emptor’ at your peril as there are countless costly examples where surveys haven’t been completed at all or have been conducted after exchange of contracts - subsequent lengthy and expensive court proceedings have ultimately resulted in the buyers losing their full deposit in addition to paying court costs (see Hardy vs Griffiths {2014} EWHC 394).

 

3. Communication is key

The conveyancing process involves many steps and considerable paperwork. As such, there are certain transactions and situations that can often create delays and/or problems along the way.

Clear and open communication is an absolutely necessity so start as you mean to go on.

Being completely honest and upfront with your conveyancer about your circumstances will help minimise any potential delays – are you selling as a result of separation or divorce? Are you in a housing chain? (i.e. is your purchase dependent on selling? If so, where are you up to in this process?), Do you require a mortgage to purchase and if so, do you have an offer? Do you have your deposit ready? Do you have any imminent holidays booked that could impact on timings and decision-making?

 

4. Be prepared – get your ducks in a row!

Putting your paperwork in order may seem obvious but you’d be amazed how many people don’t, which can cause further delays in the process.

For starters, have the basics at the ready for your conveyancer – estate agents’ details, all relevant property information, your ID (e.g. passport and utility bills)… etc. Also collate any other relevant documentation such as property easements, written statutory declarations, indemnity insurance…etc.

Make sure your mortgage offer is both valid and up-to-date (and be aware of its expiry date as some expire after 6 months). If it isn’t, make it a priority. Have your deposit ready or be in a position to release it when your conveyancer needs them.

Keep all previous records of planning permission including building regulations approval notices and especially building regulations compliance certificates. Inform your conveyancer at the outset if you’ve carried out any works on your property and ensure you have the appropriate documents from the local authority or the person/company that carried it out for you e.g. damp proofing, structural assessments, electrical rewiring, roofing repairs, drainage…etc.

 

5. Be realistic

‘How long will it take?’ is the million-dollar question!

A typical conveyancing process can take between 6 and 8 weeks, but no two processes are ever the same. And there are often unexpected issues such as new information, delays to searches, problems in the housing chain, illnesses or holidays, that crop up which affect the timescales by days or, in some instances, weeks.

In terms of general timings, particularly proposed completion dates, never assume your conveyancer can meet a commitment you have made, unless your conveyancer has expressly agreed it with you beforehand – it will only lead to stress and disappointment for both parties.

It’s important to be realistic about the conveyancing process and accept that hiccups are normal - try to stay calm, keep in touch and remain easily contactable.

 

Here to help

At Susan Howarth & Company, we know that moving house can be one of life’s most stressful experiences (honestly, most of us are living proof!), but the conveyancing process need not be.

Our friendly and efficient Property Department offer a wealth of knowledge and experience in both Residential and Commercial Conveyancing, ensuring that you’re in safe hands and that the process is as stress-free as possible.

Our Fact Sheets help explain the full process involved in buying or selling a property, but if you have any specific questions or would like a quote, please don’t hesitate in contacting Ray Melia on 01606 48777 or raymelia@susanhowarthsolicitors.co.uk