Guide to Selling Property & Conveyancing
So you’re selling your home – what is the conveyancing process?
In law, conveyancing is the transfer of legal title of property from one person to another. A typical conveyancing transaction contains two major landmarks: the exchange of contracts (whereby equitable title passes) and completion (whereby legal title passes). Establishing proper legal title to the property is one of the first stages of conveyancing and will depend on whether the land is registered or unregistered.
Most property these days is Registered Land meaning that the old “title deed” is now an electronic Registered Entry of Title held by the Land Registry which has a unique Title Number allocated to it. We will need to apply to the Land Registry for an Official Copy of the up to date “Registered Entries” which should include a copy of the Filed Plan showing the boundaries and copies of any other documents to which the entries refer. If you hold copies of any of these Land Registry documents you should hand these to us as soon as possible as these could assist in speeding up the process. You will also need to let us know the details, including mortgage account number, for any mortgage registered against the property. We can then contact the lender to request information required to redeem the mortgage on completion (redemption figure) and request copies of any additional documents that they may hold and which may be useful during the sale process.
Title Deeds for Unregistered land
It is unlikely that your property will still be unregistered land unless the property has not changed ownership or been re-mortgaged since the mid-1990’s. However, should your property be unregistered you will need to let us know who holds the title deeds. If the property is mortgaged or was mortgaged but the mortgage is now repaid, then the mortgage lender will usually hold the title deeds and we will need their details, including the mortgage account number, so that we can apply for the title deeds. However, if there was no mortgage, or sometimes if any mortgage has been repaid, then you will probably hold the title deeds. Alternatively, the deeds may be held by a previous solicitor or perhaps you placed them with your bank for safe-keeping. Again we will need to obtain these title documents as soon as possible as we will be unable to prepare the Contract for sale without them. No records in respect of the property will be held by the Land registry. If you believe that the property is unregistered and the title deeds have been lost, then it will be necessary to prepare a “re-construction of title”. This is a lengthy and time consuming process and you should contact us at the earliest possible opportunity for advice in dealing with this.
The Registered Entries/deeds are required to enable us to draw up the contract. The contract sets out the terms of the sale, including the price and the relevant parties involved. This is sent to the buyer's solicitors for their approval. We also send them a copy of the Registered Entries/ deeds and any other guarantees or papers which you are able to supply to us and which are of relevance to works undertaken to the property.
When we receive your instructions to act, we will send a number of questionnaires to you relating to the property, together with a list setting out details of the fixtures, fittings and contents which are included in the sale. It is important that these forms are completed fully and as accurately as possible as any incorrect information could lead to the buyer claiming compensation for misrepresentation.
The contract pack
Once we have collected all the information, copies of all the relevant documentation will be forwarded to your buyer's solicitor so that they can investigate your legal title to the property. We like to send this out with the Contract as part of the pack as this saves valuable time in processing the transaction. The more comprehensive the information you can provide us with then the less reason the buyer’s solicitors will have to raise additional enquiries, thereby speeding up the process. If they do raise any additional enquiries, we may need to refer to you for further information. Around this time we will ask you to sign the contract. You are not committed to the sale until you authorise us to “exchange Contracts”, we are simply getting it signed in readiness for an exchange of contracts, you will not be committing yourself to the sale at this stage.
Exchange of contracts
After the buyer's solicitor has completed his investigations, you will need to agree with your buyer a date for completion, i.e. moving house. Once this has been agreed we will take your final instructions to ensure that you are happy to proceed with the sale and assuming that you are, we will then affect an exchange of contracts. It is at this point that you will be committed to the transaction and the terms of the contract cannot be changed. If after contracts have been exchanged, either party tries to cancel or delay the agreed arrangements, then the other party will have the right to sue for damages.
Preparing for completion
After exchange of contracts, the buyer's solicitors will forward the Transfer Deed to us. This is the document that formally passes ownership of the property from you to the buyer. This must be signed prior to completion. We will also be obtaining a repayment figure from your lender (where applicable), in order that we can pay off your mortgage once we have received the purchase monies from the buyer's solicitor on the day of completion.
Although we cannot guarantee what time actual completion will take place on the day of completion, you should aim to vacate the property by noon. You will need to deliver the keys to your estate agent, who will then hold them until we can confirm that the purchase monies have been received and that the buyers now own the property. We will then account to you for the net proceeds of the sale (the money due to you after redemption of any mortgage/s and other sale related costs and expenses), or forward the money on for your purchase property if you have a related purchase.