Whether you're buying or selling a residential property, your best approach is to understand what the conveyancing process involves. Depending on the length of the connected transactions chain and the complexity of the transaction, conveyancing can take up to 12 weeks. Although while searching for conveyancing quotes online you may have found different affordable conveyancing quotes, you should know how to choose the right firm. So, here's a brief explaining the process of conveyancing, what to look for in an online conveyancing firm, how to choose the best one and a forecast on the future of conveyancing.
What Is Conveyancing? What Are the Costs?
Conveyancing is the legal process performed by conveyancing solicitors or licensed specialists, to transfer ownership of a property from the Seller to the Buyer. It's how you check the legality of the transaction and how the buyer makes sure the property doesn't have any hidden legal issues.
The costs of conveyancing depend on whether the solicitor charges a fixed rate or a percentage. In the case of a fixed rate, if you're selling a property, the conveyancing fees range from a low 700 to 1,250. Yet, if you're buying, the fees are between 950 and 1,900 less the stamp duty land tax. You'll also have to send an advanced search deposit of between 250-350 so your conveyancer can settle any disbursement on your account. Nevertheless, the costs you must cover depend on the property's value, the tenure of the property, necessary disbursements, and indemnity insurance.
About Online Conveyancing
Online conveyancing involves the same process as high street conveyancing. The difference is that in the case of online conveyancing, all business is performed over the phone or online. But as with other business sectors, you'll find different quality services from bad to excellent. So, stay clear of any immense conveyancing mills, which have huge teams of overworked solicitors. That's because huge caseloads can decrease the quality of their work and slow down your transaction. Also, you may deal with several employees, which requires repeated explanations of your transaction's implications. What's worse, you'll find hidden fees and the services aren't tailored to your needs.
Nevertheless, working with a top-quality online conveyance company guarantees a streamlined process. Although local solicitors emphasize the importance of local knowledge, it doesn't count for anything. That's because conveyancing solicitors must perform the same procedures regardless of your address. Local knowledge only counts in the case of Leasehold properties.
Before you start searching for quotes, you should understand the structure of conveyancing cost. It comprises the basic fee, which is the firm's price for billable hours, and the disbursements, which are paid to 3rd party institutions and authorities such as the search fees or stamp duty tax. Disbursements are usually the same for any conveyancing quote.
About the Basic Fee
The legal firm's basic fee for both a sale or purchase can range between 300 and 2,400 plus VAT. However, for leasehold properties, you should expect to pay an extra 50 to 250. While for transactions, which involve mortgages, you'll pay up to 250 more.
The Cost of Disbursements
The standard disbursements, which you must cover include:
- Land Registry documentation - between 4 to 8 per Buying and Selling;
- Bankruptcy queries – between 2 and 4, if the property is mortgaged;
- Telegraphic transfer cost – between 20 to 30 per Buying and Selling. It's due on values of over 60,000;
- Local Authority queries – between 100 and 200 – the cost is different from one authority to another;
- Chancel repair responsibility search – 10 plus VAT – which confirms if you must pay for the maintenance of the parish church;
- Drainage queries – between 30 and 40 – the cost is different depending on the water company;
- Environmental queries – between 30 and 35 plus VAT – to verify if the soil is contaminated;
- Location determined local queries – between 40 and 70 per each search – you may require extra searches such as mining, depending on the properties location;
- Land registration cost – between 40 and 700 – depending on the property's value;
- SDLT or Stamp duty land tax – should be automatically calculated and included in the firm's offer;
Additionally, you shouldn't pay any extra amounts for photocopies, telephone conversations, postage, filing the SDLT form, or PI (Professional Indemnity) contribution. What's more, because conveyancing is a highly competitive business sector, firms use different tricks to make their quotes appear better than they really are. So, you should ask for a specific fixed quote, not an estimation. Even better, ask for a detailed listing on the costs involved including the disbursements. Study the T&Cs (terms and conditions) to check for hidden fees and ask the conveyancing firm about anything you don't understand. Also, stay clear of companies that charge for standard business procedures such as photocopying or postage.
The Duration of Conveyancing
If the transaction is straightforward, you should expect the conveyancing to take from 8 to 12 weeks. However, the duration depends on a variety of factors. In hot markets, you'll find that 22% of conveyances are done within 60 days and 44% of transactions are completed within 61 to 90 days. What's more, conveyance searches can take from 1 week up to 6 weeks, depending on the local authorities involved.
Finding the Right Conveyancing Solicitor
Your best approach is to search through a variety of solicitors. And you should never base your decision only on the best price. Additionally, while a conveyancing solicitor must be part of the Law Society, a conveyancer should be part of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).
While making sure that the conveyancing solicitors are Law Society members, you should get between 3 and 5 offers including fixed rates. Ask for a list of all charges and check if they have the right experience with your type of property. Get the right contact details and make sure they're easy to contact and available out of office hours. Also, check their recommendations and whether they can comply with your specific timescale.
The Conveyancing Solicitors Role
Depending on whether you're the seller or the buyer, the conveyancing solicitor will carry out different procedures. So, here's a list of the operations performed by the conveyancing solicitor when you're buying or selling a property.
For the Seller:
- Buyer's identity verification;
- Checks if the buyer has the funds for the purchase;
- Highlights any legal problems which may delay the sale;
- Picks up official copies of the property's deeds from the Land Registry Office;
- Conveys essential information to the buyer's authorized representative;
- Drafts the sale-purchase agreement;
- Officially exchanges agreements with the purchaser's conveyancer;
- Handles all money transfers, pays the realtor and settles mortgages;
- Hands over the transfer deed to the purchaser's legal representative and deletes your details from the Land Registry;
- Draws up the completion statement and settles any accounts.
For the purchaser:
- Identity verification;
- Performs searches and studies the obtained results;
- Makes sure you have the necessary funds available;
- Verifies the mortgage's terms and conditions;
- Studies the legal documentation received from the seller's authorized representative;
- Reports any discovered legal issues to you;
- Inquiries about the Fixtures and Fitting Form and the Property Information Form;
- Checks the Sale-purchase agreement;
- Officially exchanges agreements with the seller's conveyancer;
- Prepares and hands over the transfer deed to the seller's legal conveyancer;
- Handles the transfer of funds to the seller's authorized representative;
- Pays the stamp duty tax;
- Records you as the new owner of the property with the Land Registry Office.
Authorities and Professional Bodies
The Law Society helps solicitors assist their clients and guarantees that everyone abides by the law. It also helps consumers search for solicitors and find property related form templates. And consumers can find useful information by visiting its online advice platform. What's more, you can file a complaint against solicitors. Even better, you can identify excellent solicitors with the help of the Lexcel quality indicator. And, to eliminate any potential fraud for residential conveyancing firms, the Law Society runs a quality scheme, respectively the CQS (Conveyancing Quality Scheme).
On the other hand, the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) protects consumers by regulating professional conveyancing and probate lawyers. You'll find an online advice platform on the council's website and you can search for a licensed conveyancer specialist. Nevertheless, if you have a complaint about any licensed conveyancer, you can file it online with the CLC.
The Society of Licensed Conveyancers is a professional institution which collaborates with the CLC and offers assistance and support to professional conveyancers.
Wrapping it Up
Working with an online conveyancing company has a variety of advantages if you choose the right firm. Check the customer reviews and rating, verify the company's quality of services and ask for offers including a list of all fees. In the end, it all comes down to high-rating services provided by the conveyancer on your specific case and you being a responsive and informed customer.