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What is residential conveyancing?

Essentially the legal process of buying or selling a house, residential conveyancing transfers the property from one owner to another.

While it is possible to handle a sale yourself, the majority of people instruct a solicitor to act on their behalf, due to the complex nature of the process. Our team of property law experts can provide expert advice and assistance.

If you are purchasing with a mortgage, your lender will specify that a solicitor must act on their behalf throughout the sale.

What do I need to know?

Buying or selling a property incorporates three separate stages:

  • Agreeing the sale/purchase
  • Exchanging contracts
  • Completing the sale

The process than differs, depending if you are buying or selling.

Buying a property

You need to place some funds on your account for expenses such as searches and land registry fees. This amount is usually around £250, which is then deducted from your final invoice.

Once the seller’s solicitor has instructions from the seller, they will send to us contract documents including:

  • Property information form – specifies legal boundaries, any work completed on the property, planning regulations
  • Fixtures, fittings and contents form – specifies what the seller will leave at the property and what they will take with them
  • A copy of the title to the property – this determines whether the seller is legally entitled to sell the property to you. If the property is leasehold, we will check the lease to ensure it meets your intentions for use and any mortgage requirements
  • Contract of sale – specifies the address and price of the property, plus the names and addresses of the buyer and seller

Upon receipt of the contract documentation, we usually carry out a number of searches, including:

  • Bankruptcy Search – on behalf of your mortgage lender (if you are obtaining a mortgage)
  • Personal Regulated Local Search and/or Official Local Authority Search
  • Drainage Search
  • Environmental Search

If you need a mortgage to buy your property, you will no doubt have already made an application. We will need to see your mortgage offer in writing before we can exchange contracts.

We would recommend that you have a survey undertaken by a surveyor, to ensure the property is sound. Surveyors also very often have advance notice of planning and development if they are local to the area.  It may be that you have already made a decision on the question of a survey of the property you are purchasing and if you are taking out a mortgage, you may be satisfied with the basic valuation or homebuyer’s report provided by the mortgage lender.

However, we would certainly recommend a full survey of the property that you are purchasing (except in the case of a new property which is being built with the benefit of NHBC or similar cover).  Please bear in mind that we will not see or inspect the boundaries, so it will be for you and your surveyor to carefully check that the boundaries of the property is as you expect.  As the purchaser you should be aware that the principle of “let the buyer beware” applies to the purchasing of property as much as to any other purchase.  You should therefore conduct surveys and test services and/or appliances to avoid any issues once you have exchanged contracts.

Once all the relevant searches are complete and the survey is satisfactorily performed, you will receive a contract to sign in readiness for exchange of contracts. We will also prepare a transfer and mortgage deed for you to sign.

We would advise that you inspect the property prior to exchange of contracts to ensure the property is in the condition you expect.  The seller will not be liable for matters which would be apparent from survey or inspection.  

You will need to agree a provisional completion state with your seller.  The completion date shall be fixed once you have exchanged contracts. On exchange of contracts, we then pay a deposit to the seller’s solicitor, which is usually 10% of purchase price though can be less if the sum received on any related sale does not equal to 10% of the purchase price.  We shall send the exchanged contract to the seller’s solicitor and they shall send the seller’s signed contract to us. Once we have exchanged your contract you will be contractually bound to purchase the property and you cannot retract without risking losing your deposit paid and being exposed to additional claims for breach of contract.  

We shall prepare  a financial statement setting out the funds we require to proceed to completion. The statement shall set out all costs incurred with the transaction. We will require cleared funds one working day before completion.

On the agreed completion date, we transfer the balance for the sale to the seller’s solicitor. Following completion we shall deal with payment of your Stamp Duty Land Tax and registration formalities at the Land Registry.

Selling a property

Once you have agreed the sale with your buyer, we put together a legal pack to send to your buyer’s solicitor, which includes legal forms such as:

  • Property information form
  • Fixtures, fittings and contents form
  • A copy of the title to the property
  • Contract of sale

We then answer any specific enquiries raised by the buyer before agreeing a provisional completion – or moving in – date.

Contracts are then exchanged, after which we receive the buyer’s deposit on your behalf. If you have a mortgage, we request a settlement figure from your lender,  which is the amount you need to repay your mortgage lender once your property is sold.

On your agreed completion date, your buyer’s solicitor will send us the balance of the payment for your property. We use this to pay off your mortgage, your estate agent fees, our fees and any costs incurred during the sale. Any money left over will be handed over to you, unless it is needed for a purchase you are making.

We will then pass the deeds of the property to your buyer’s solicitor to register the buyer as the new owner, and remove any reference to you and your mortgage, if applicable.

Call our mobile friendly number on 033 33 22 1000 or 0800 987 8156 for a free no obligation quote from our conveyancing department.

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