We understand that selling a property can be a stressful time. Our aim is to reduce this stress and make your conveyancing process run as smoothly as possible. To assist with this and help you understand the legal process of conveyancing we have provided this short guide to the conveyancing process of selling a property.
A typical property sale will take 8-12 weeks to complete and include the following steps. However, it’s important to remember that with any property sale there are a number of external factors which can cause delays and increase the number of steps in the process.
Step 1 – you instruct your conveyancer
Once you have accepted an offer on your property you need to instruct your conveyancer. Conveyancer is another word for solicitor and they will handle the legal aspects of your sale. No two conveyancers provide the same level of service or have the same high standards and expertise so it’s important to choose the conveyancer who is right for you. For help on choosing a conveyancer please read our blog “How to choose your conveyancing solicitor”.
Step 2 – seller’s conveyancer will confirm the instruction and carry out security checks
This will involve the conveyancer setting out the terms of business and any costs by letter or email, and also requesting proof of ID. It’s important to note that no work can be carried out until the ID checks are complete. To help speed up the conveyancing process it’s important that you bring your ID in to be checked as soon as possible.
Step 3 – you complete a fittings and contents form and provide money on account
Once ID has been taken, your conveyancer will send you a fittings and contents form to complete. This will provide the conveyancer and the buyers with key information about what is in the property and any items that are being left behind when you move.
If the property is leasehold, additional information forms will also be sent to you to complete.
At this stage, your conveyancer will also ask you to provide money on account to cover any third party costs (also known as disbursements). For example, the costs of obtaining land registry documents in order to produce the draft contract for sale.
Step 4 – seller’s conveyancer obtains official deeds and vital property information
During this stage the seller’s conveyancer will obtain the title deeds from the deed holder or Land Registry, official copies of the title register and any other documents which the buyer’s conveyancer requires.
The seller’s conveyancer will also request a redemption statement at this stage. This is the details of any outstanding mortgage payable on the seller’s property.
Step 5 – seller’s conveyancer prepares the draft contract and support documentation and sends to the buyer’s conveyancer
Step 6 – buyer’s conveyancer checks the contract
At this stage the buyer’s conveyancer will raise any pre-contract questions with your conveyancer and will share any relevant documents with the buyer, e.g. the fittings and contents form, so that the buyer can also raise any questions through their conveyancer.
During this stage, the buyer’s conveyancer will also carry out searches on the property being sold. These are a legally required element of the conveyancing process and will include searches for a number of different things, such as local authority searches, land registry searches, and environmental and water searches, to provide a buyer with full details of the property they are about to purchase.
We often find that searches on a property can take quite a few weeks to come back, some local authorities are quicker to respond than others, but ultimately this can often cause delays in the conveyancing process.
Step 7 – seller’s conveyancer and seller answer the pre-contact questions
As the seller, your conveyancer will liaise with you to provide an answer to the buyer’s and their conveyancer’s questions. Once all questions have been answered the responses will be sent back to the buyer’s conveyancer.
Step 8 – buyer’s conveyancer confirms they are happy to proceed
Once the buyer’s conveyancer has reviewed the responses to the pre-contract questions and the results of the searches with the buyer they will confirm that they are happy to proceed.
If they are not satisfied with the responses provided or there are issues which have arisen in the searches further questions will be raised with the seller’s conveyancer and the process is delayed, back to stage 8, until the buyer and their conveyancer are happy to proceed.
At this stage the buyer’s conveyancer will also need to confirm that they are in receipt of a mortgage offer (if applicable).
Step 9 – both sides agree a completion date and the contract is formally “exchanged”
This is the step which ties both the buyer and seller into the move. Through formally “exchanging” contracts both parties are legally committed to the transaction.
At this stage, the buyer’s conveyancer will draft a transfer deed and send this to the seller’s conveyancer for the seller to sign before completion.
For properties which have a mortgage, the seller’s conveyancer will obtain a final settlement figure to repay any outstanding amount on the mortgage (if applicable).
Step 10 – seller’s conveyancer reviews the transfer deed
Once the seller’s conveyancer is happy with the transfer deed it will be sent to you, as the seller, to sign before completion.
Step 11 – you sign the transfer deed
Step 12 – exchange money and complete the sale
On the agreed completion date the buyer’s conveyancer will send the proceeds of sale to the seller’s conveyancer. Upon receipt of these funds the seller’s conveyancer will arrange for the keys to be released to the buyer (usually this is done through the estate agent).
At the stage, you must make arrangements through your estate agent to vacate the property and hand over the keys at a given time. If you are not using an estate agent, it is possible to make these arrangements through your conveyancer or with the seller directly.
Also during this stage, the seller’s conveyancer will send the title deeds and transfer deed to the buyer’s conveyancer together with an understanding to use the proceeds of sale to discharge any existing mortgage. The seller’s conveyancer then pays the estate agent (if used), pays the amount owing on the existing mortgage (if applicable) and takes payment for their legal fees.
Step 13 – seller’s conveyancer releases funds to the seller
Once all of the payments have been made, the remaining money from the sale will be transferred to you, as the seller. This is usually done by bank transfer.
At this final stage, your conveyancer will send you a final letter which includes a completion statement and a copy of the bill (for information purposes as costs have already been paid).
If you’d like more information, please visit our residential conveyancing solicitors page.
For further advice on the conveyancing process involved when selling a property or for a quote, please contact our residential property team on 0161 475 7676 or get in touch via our contact form.
Are you selling a flat?
If selling a flat, the process involves a lot of extra work and is likely to increase the timescale. Please contact us for full details on how the process differs and the extra steps involved.