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Sellers – what does the conveyancing process involve?

When it comes to a house sale, it’s one of the most – if not the most – important parts. However, despite this, the process of conveyancing can still be something of a mystery for many sellers: simultaneously complicated, confusing and a little bit scary.

But what is conveyancing and why is it so important?

Here, using our years of experience working in the busy Docklands’ sales market, where we’ve aided many through the choppy waters of conveyancing, we take a closer look.

Important form-filling

As a seller, once you’ve accepted an offer from your chosen buyer and ready to move to the next stage, the time is now to instruct a conveyancing solicitor. Your agent will be able to help with you this, putting forward recommendations or offering an in-house service. Alternatively, you can choose to do your own research and find a conveyancer independently.

The advantage of using a firm your agent has recommended is that you can rest assured they’ll do a good job, and can help you towards a
speedy sale.

At this point, your conveyancer will request your title deeds and ask you to complete a questionnaire. You will need to complete a Property Information Form (known as a TA6), a Fixtures and Fittings Form (known as a TA10) and, if you’re selling a leasehold, a Leasehold Information Form (known as a TA7).

Both the buyer and seller instruct separate solicitors to act on their behalf in the conveyancing process, and you should work closely with your conveyancer to decide on a completion date to ensure this is negotiated with the buyer’s conveyancer ahead of time.

Your mortgage lender will send your conveyancer a statement for the total sum that needs to be repaid on completion of your sale.

The crucial parts – exchange and completion

Upon the exchange stage being reached, you and your buyer will then be in a legally binding agreement. This is likely to prove very costly and very difficult for either party to exit.

This means, before exchanging, you need to make sure you are totally committed to the sale. There can be no backing out afterwards, at least not without hefty consequences.

Once contracts have been exchanged, your conveyancer will receive the buyer’s deposit. This is typically 10% of the property price, but can be as low as 5% or as high as 30-40%. It will very much rely on the individual circumstances of the sale, so there are no fixed rules that apply here.

After exchange, the buyer is more than likely to lose their deposit if they withdraw, a situation designed to incentivise buyers to ensure they are completely certain about purchasing the home before they exchange contracts.

From your point of view as the seller, you must be aware that you can no longer accept another offer after the exchange of contracts has happened. So it’s important that you have zoned in on the best and final offer for you and your circumstances. This might not always be the highest offer – although more than often will be – but could be based on gut instinct or a good feeling about a particular set of buyers. Equally, if you need to move fast, or much slower, this could influence the buyers you accept a final offer from.

Before the completion date is reached – a day you will have agreed upon with your buyer’s conveyancer in advance, all being well – your conveyancer will ask for payment for their services. All final accounts and paperwork will be put in place by your conveyancer and a final settlement will be created for your approval.

It falls upon your conveyancer to make sure that all deeds and remaining monies have arrived in the right and proper fashion and your sale is now legally complete. They will then transfer the deeds to the buyer’s conveyancer, putting the property in their name rather than yours.

Once this stage has been reached, your conveyancer will pay your agent the fee they are owed for the role they’ve played in getting you to completion, and repay the amount owed to the existing mortgage lender, if this is applicable. They will also now take payment for their own services.

The rest of the money from the house sale, minus all the costs and payments, will be transferred to you on the day of completion – typically by bank transfer unless you have made specific arrangements to the contrary.

At the completion stage, you should leave the property at the pre-agreed time – and in a good state of repair.

You are under no obligation to move out until completion day, but you may decide to move out earlier to save on any hassle and stress. You should hand over the keys to your estate agent or the buyer of your home when you leave.

If you’re not opting for the DIY approach – and this will largely depend on how much stuff you have/how many willing helpers you have at your disposal – it’s a good idea to book a removal company a couple of weeks in advance just in case there is limited availability.

The market is currently booming and you can’t guarantee that you will get a firm on the date and time you’re looking to move. It’s important to note there are certain days of the week in which costs for removal companies are lower – typically midweek – and times where they’re much more expensive (Fridays and weekends). This applies to certain times of the year, too.

If you opt for a removal firm, make sure they are a reputable company. To do this, you should check if they are part of the British Association of Removers (BAR), the trade body charged with enforcing best practice in the sector.

As we can see from the above, there is an awful lot to the conveyancing process, and it can be a lot to take in and absorb. This is where an experienced agent – who has been through the process many times before –will really come into their own.

They’ll know the potential obstacles and hold-ups, they’ll know how to navigate any possible issues, and they’ll work closely with you and your conveyancer to try and keep everyone on the same page throughout.

Here at Holland Properties, we can help you through the whole sales process, using our years of experience and know-how to help you on your way. You can find out more about why you should sell with us here and contact us today by clicking here.

For more than two decades, we have been operating in sales and lettings market specialising in Canary Wharf and the surrounding Docklands areas including Surrey Quays and Rotherhithe.

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