As the UK’s biggest direct conveyancing firm we often are faced with many queries about our services and conveyancing in general. Therefore, we’ve pulled together our handy guide to break down the most frequently asked questions to bust any myths surrounding the property buying and selling process.
What does conveyancer mean?
A conveyancer is a legal representative who deals with the legal process of the transfer of property ownership.
enact are a firm of licensed conveyancers, which means we are regulated specifically to conduct property-related transactions.
What is the difference between a conveyancer and a solicitor?
Technically speaking there’s not a huge difference between a licensed conveyancer and a conveyancing solicitor. Both are highly skilled in their fields and more than likely it’ll come down to cost as well as whose services best suit your needs.
A conveyancing solicitor will have trained in a variety of legal fields before making their decision to specialise in property law. Therefore, they may not solely handle property-related cases but on the other hand, they can provide wider legal advice.
Whereas, licensed conveyancers are only trained to deal with property transactions and cannot offer advice relating to other fields. A licensed conveyancer will have undergone a series of rigorous examinations to obtain their qualification and are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
For a full rundown on appointing a conveyancer or solicitor read our guide.
Are conveyancers cheaper than solicitors?
Not necessarily. Although traditionally a solicitors’ hourly rate would be higher than that of a licensed conveyancer, it is more common now for both conveyancers and solicitors to charge a set fee based on a standard conveyancing transaction.
What is a conveyancing estimate?
A conveyancing estimate or fees, as they are typically known, is the amount you’d be expected to pay a licensed conveyancer for their time associated with managing the transfer of ownership of a property.
Conveyancing fees generally are quoted as one of the following options:
- A ‘fixed-fee’
- On a scale that links their fee to the value of the property, you’re buying or selling
- A ‘per hour’ basis
To find out more about conveyancing fees take a look at our guide here.
What are the stages of conveyancing?
For a buyer the stages of conveyancing are as follows:
Stage 1: Instructing a conveyancer
After your offer has been accepted the vendor’s estate agent will request your solicitor or conveyancer’s details to pass on to the sellers’ solicitors. Therefore it’s best to have done your research on selecting who best to act on your behalf so that you can act quickly once your offer has been accepted.
The conveyancer acting for the seller will prepare a legal information pack which will include a draft contract, a fixtures, fittings and contents form, a property information form and the legal title to the property.
Stage 2: Apply for a mortgage
When buying a property with a mortgage you will have already secured a mortgage in principle to prove you’re a serious buyer but at the point of your offer is accepted you’ll want to accelerate on to a formal mortgage application.
The mortgage lender will arrange a valuation on the property to ensure the property is worth what you intend to pay for it, and then send you and your conveyancer a copy of the formal offer.
Stage 3: Searches and enquiries
At a minimum, your appointed licensed conveyancer will need to apply for three different searches, such as:
- Local authority search
- Water and drainage search
- Environmental search
In addition to these, your conveyancer will also raise enquiries relating to the property, to ensure you have all the information you need.
While your conveyancer will do their due diligence to find out as much about the property as they can, this doesn’t include the physical condition of the property. Therefore, you need to arrange a property survey or any specialist reports such as electrical or damp reports. A property survey can often be arranged through your mortgage lender or by your instruction via third party suppliers.
Stage 4: Pre exchange
Once your conveyancer has received the results for the various searches, replies to the enquiries raised, and confirmation of your mortgage offer, they will send you a report on the property and arrange for you to sign your part of the contract. You need to read the report carefully, so you are aware of all the factors which affect the property you are buying.
Stage 5: Exchange of contracts and completion
For a freehold purchase, on average, it usually takes around 10-12 weeks to reach this point, but it is around 12-14 weeks for a leasehold purchase. Once the contract has been signed by both parties, the conveyancers will then ‘Exchange Contracts’ and the property transaction becomes legally binding.
Completion can sometimes be on the same day as exchange, however, if a mortgage is involved, you will usually need a week between exchange and completion. The completion day is the final part of the conveyancing process and is the day you finally get the keys to your new home.
Should I use a solicitor or conveyancer?
Deciding whether to choose a solicitor or conveyancer ultimately comes down to preference, as we mentioned above in ‘What is the difference between a conveyancer and a solicitor?’ both licensed conveyancers and solicitors are experts in their respective fields.
Whoever you decide, for added peace of mind make sure your solicitor is a member of the Law Society of England and Wales and a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme. Conveyancers must be members of the Council for Licenced Conveyancers.
Can you do the conveyancing yourself?
Self conveyancing or DIY conveyancing is possible for a simple, straightforward transaction. More so if you have the time to manage the transaction and are willing to understand the legal jargon involved. However, it’s worth noting that this doesn’t come risk-free and you’d be smart to weigh up the pros and cons before doing so.
If you’re taking out a mortgage on the property you intend to purchase then your mortgage lender will more than likely insist on you instructing a conveyancer.
Take a look at our full guide on DIY conveyancing here.
Is it better to use a local solicitor for conveyancing?
While traditionally a bricks and mortar high street conveyancing solicitor would have been people’s go-to preference it is far more common now for property buyers and sellers to consider ‘online conveyancing’ from a national conveyancer.
It could be argued that a local solicitor would possibly have a better understanding of the local area but as part of a conveyancers’ role to do their due diligence to find out as much as they can about a property and the local area they are likely to be able to uncover anything worth highlighting during their searches and enquiries.
Again, similar to choosing between a solicitor and a licensed conveyancer will ultimately come down to whose services best suit your needs.
Do you pay stamp duty every time your move?
Yes, if your property purchase is above a certain threshold you will pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) each time. Currently, since the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has increased the threshold meaning stamp duty isn’t paid on properties of £500,000 or less. Before the pandemic house buyers had to pay stamp duty on properties and land over £125,000, with first-time buyers exempt from paying for the first £300,000 on a property. The rules are also different for those purchasing a second property.
To find out more about the current stamp duty rates see here.
What fees do first-time buyers pay?
For first time buyers, the fees paid aren’t likely to be much different to those who have purchased a property previously. Before the government’s temporary Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) revised fees first time buyers were exempt from paying any tax at a threshold of £300,000 or less. Currently, all house buyers won’t pay anything on the first £500,000 of a property until March 31st 2021.
The fees paid to your conveyancer will still be the same regardless of if you’re a first-time buyer or previous homeowner. Yet, there are several schemes to help support first-time buyers to get on to the property ladder – take a look here for further detail on what help you could get as a first-time buyer.
How much do searches cost?
The overall cost of property searches depends on a few factors. When doing your research into appointing a conveyancer or solicitor, searches are likely to be estimated as part of disbursements assuming at the very least you will need local authority searches, environmental searches as well as water and drainage searches which are approx £250-£350. However, depending on the type of property or land you’re planning to buy as well as its location you may need additional searches. These will be highlighted to you by your conveyancer as to what their purpose is ahead of progressing with them.
We hope you’ve found these FAQs helpful and if you’re looking at moving home or buying a property then get a free instant conveyancing quote from us today.