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What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal and administrative process required for the legal transfer of homeownership from seller to buyer and is usually carried out by a property solicitor or conveyancer. The conveyancing process starts when the buyer makes an offer on a house and only ends at the point the buyer receives the keys to their property. Conveyancing includes the drawing up of sale contracts, legal searches including the status of the property’s tenure – for example, freehold or leasehold – and of its title – i.e. who actually owns the property being sold.

Why do I need a solicitor or conveyancer?

Conveyancing can be an occasionally complicated process. Conveyancing solicitors and licensed conveyancers are experienced and practiced in the procedure and can recommend and carry out the types of searches required by your mortgage lender; for example, flood and environmental risks, or mining searches in specific areas. Our conveyancing solicitors’ experience and knowledge in this area can help to remove the stress of buying or selling from you.

Who are Homeward Legal?

Homeward Legal works with a group of specialist property lawyers and licensed conveyancers with offices in more than 50 locations across England and Wales. Our expert conveyancing solicitors provide residential and commercial legal services to home buyers, sellers, owners and investors, including sale and purchase conveyancing, re-mortgage conveyancing and transfers of equity. If you instruct a solicitor or conveyancer through Homeward Legal, they will review and negotiate contracts on your behalf, advise on a mortgage offer, carry out the necessary searches, exchange and complete contracts and carry out all post-completion formalities.

How can Homeward Legal help me?

Homeward Legal can help you find a property lawyer or conveyancer quickly and efficiently. Call us on 0800 038 6699 to discuss your requirements or get a free conveyancing quote online. Our team of more than 200 specialist conveyancing solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA), while our conveyancers are accredited with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS), which is awarded by the Law Society. With offices throughout England and Wales, we can find you a local property solicitor to take you through the conveyancing process.

Will my costs change during the conveyancing process?

We offer a Fixed Fee Conveyancing for standard conveyancing transactions, meaning you can budget for your move from the start and won’t be surprised by any unexpected extras later on. Your conveyancing quote will clearly outline all fees and disbursements. There are no additional fees hidden in the small print. On the rare occasions when we cannot provide a Fixed Fee Conveyancing, the reasons for this will be explicitly outlined to you.

What does No Completion Protection mean?

You will not be charged any fees if, for any reason, your transaction does not complete during the process. You can either get a full refund or, if outside of 14 days from instruction, Homeward Legal will hold your payment ready for when you’re buying or selling next time.

What are gazumping, gazundering and gazanging?

A property sale is not legally binding in England and Wales until both buyer and seller have exchanged contracts. Gazumping is where another buyer offers the seller more money and the seller reneges on their deal with you. Gazundering is when the buyer reduces their offer just before contracts are exchanged, forcing the seller to consider reducing the price to ensure the sale goes through. Gazanging is where the buyer decides to pull out of the sale altogether. Any one of these things can happen before contracts are exchanged, causing inconvenience and disappointment. However, thanks to Homeward Legal’s No Completion Protection, if you are the victim of either gazumping or gazanging, you will not be out of pocket.

How long does it take to buy a house?

The question of how long does it take to buy a house is often posed, but there is no set timeframe for completing the conveyancing process. Factors such as whether you are in a chain, delays in obtaining survey access or a hold-up in attaining a mortgage can slow things down. Your property lawyer or conveyancer will be in regular contact with you to advise of any issues that might hinder the conveyancing progress. We do aim for completion at around 8-10 weeks, but there are many factors that may delay this. You can contact Homeward Legal at any point for assistance and advice.

Is there anything I can do to speed up conveyancing?

While solicitors and licensed conveyancers on both sides will do all of the administration and searches required for the conveyancing process, there are some things both buyers and sellers can do to accelerate matters. Sending back all documentation and anything that requires a signature in a timely fashion, while also responding quickly to requests for information, can help ensure the transaction is expedited efficiently.

What kind of searches need to be carried out?

Different searches are carried out, some depending on the mortgage provider and the area in which the property is situated.

  • Local Authority Search (LAS): Essential if the property is to have a mortgage on it. This includes the likes of relevant planning applications, road schemes and the whereabouts of contaminated land.
  • Water and Drainage: Reveals if the property is connected to mains water and drainage, the location of public water mains and public sewers.
  • Environmental: Identifies risks within 500m of a property, including subsidence, flooding, landfill, landslides and waste sites as well as any potentially contaminated sites. Some mortgage lenders may insist upon an environmental search.
  • Commons Registration: For property that borders common land, such as a village green, or agricultural land.
  • Chancel Repair: In England and Wales, some land has historic links to the Church of England that mean the owner may be culpable for repairs to the local church. This search reveals if the land upon which your property is built has been registered by the parish council with the Land Registry.
  • Coal & Brine Mining: Used in areas where coal and brine mining has occurred, either historically or in the present day. This search identifies where underground workings are, any mine entrances that may cause subsidence, if compensation has been paid for such subsidence or repairs and if there are claims outstanding.

How long do searches take?

Unfortunately, it’s impossible to say with any authority how long local authority and other searches take to complete. Each council has its own timescale for responding to requests for information about land and property. Your conveyancing solicitor will be able to advise how long the local council in the area in which you’re buying is taking to complete searches, but as a rough guide, you can expect searches to be returned within 21 days. However, it is not unusual for some local authorities to take twice as long. Keep in touch with your property lawyer throughout the process to ensure they are following up on the search request.