23 April, 2024

A Short Guide to Conveyancing

Buying and selling property has a lot more parts to it than most purchases. There are a number of legal aspects, paperwork, and red tape to navigate. This is all on top of organising a mortgage, the move itself and all the other changes that come with a new property.

This legal process of buying or selling is known as conveyancing, and in this guide, we’ll be looking at what it is, how it’s done and the help you can get with it.

So What is Conveyancing?

In common and property law, conveyancing refers to transferring the legal title of real property from one person to another. It also refers to the granting of a mortgage or a lien. A lien is the right to retain possession of another’s property as security, until the loan/debt has been completely repaid.

Real property refers to houses/buildings, land, crops, bodies of water like canals and ponds, machinery if it is attached to a building or land and even roads and railway tracks. Basically land, the property on the land and anything permanently attached to it.

Personal property refers to objects like vehicles, furniture, collectibles, computers, pretty much anything not permanently affixed to the land – this is not covered by conveyancing but it’s handy to know the difference.

Conveyancing – The Process

The process of the average conveyancing transaction has two phases. The first is the exchanging of contracts, the second is the completion, also known as the settlement, where the legal title passes over.

Seeking a Professional for Conveyancing

As conveyancing is a complex process, with time consuming legal paperwork, seeking professional help is highly recommended. For this you will need to look for either: conveyancing solicitors or a regular licensed conveyancer who isn’t a solicitor.

With a professional looking at the paperwork for you, it will save you time, stress, and make sure no detail is missed. If the paperwork for each phase of the process is not completed correctly by the required deadline it can result in the contract being voided and losing out on the property you’re trying to buy.

Conveyancing Solicitors vs Licensed Conveyancers

While the responsibilities of a specialist solicitor and a licensed conveyancer are largely the same, there are differences.

A Conveyancing solicitor is fully trained in legal services but specialises in conveyancing, they’ll be able to assist you if anything goes wrong or, worst case scenario, back you up if it needs to be taken to court. The downside is they are usually a more expensive option due to their expertise and qualifications.

A licensed conveyancer specialises in conveyancing only but is fully experienced in all details of buying and selling property. They just don’t have the wider legal knowledge of anything outside of this. Licensed conveyancers can also work for a solicitor’s firm but the downside of using a conveyancer is that if anything does go wrong, they may not be able to help and end up referring you to a solicitor instead, which adds to costs and takes up time.

DIY Conveyancing – Is It Possible?

You could in theory, carry out at least most of the process of conveyancing yourself. If you are confident with legal jargon, have a keen eye for detail and the time to go through paperwork then it’s entirely possible.

However, if you’re buying or selling through a mortgage lender then you’ll need a registered solicitor to finalise these details.

It is not generally recommended to try and do it yourself, unless you have some sort of expertise in the subject or the transaction looks to be a smooth and simple one. There are many risks attached to trying it yourself if you don’t fully understand the process. If something goes wrong it can cost hundreds in extra legal fees to correct, ending up more expensive than simply hiring an expert would have been.

Conveyancing – Final Thoughts

You should now have a basic understanding of conveyancing and the best way to approach it, depending on your circumstances.

Out of the three options, a conveyancing solicitor may be your best bet, but the decision is yours. Do your research. Research further into conveyancing and/or look for a good solicitor firm that can help make your move as smooth as possible.

Claire James


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