Conveyancing Procedure for Buying a Property

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Buying a property is not as simple as buying a sandwich or even a new car. Making an offer and having it accepted is only the first stage of the conveyancing procedure. What follows is several weeks of legal work before arriving at the point where you can collect your keys and move in (and even that isn't the end of the conveyancing procedure).
After completion the legal title to the property has to be transferred into your name from the seller's name and only then is the conveyancing procedure at an end. Of course most buyers are only interested in the stages prior to completion.
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Stages of the Conveyancing Procedure

1. Making an Offer

As mentioned above, the first stage of the conveyancing procedure is to make an offer for a property and have it accepted. The offer is generally made to the selling agent who will take his client's instructions on whether to accept. If accepted the selling agent will want to see proof that you can afford to buy the property (such as a bank statement if you are buying cash or a copy of an “in principle” mortgage offer and also proof of your identity.

It is important to remember that neither you nor the seller are bound into the transaction at this point in the conveyancing process. You can walk away if you have a change of heart and the seller is free to accept any higher offers. The seller will often take the property off the market at this stage though he is not obliged to.

2. The Pre-Contract Stage

Once you have had an offer accepted it's time to instruct solicitors and begin the pre-contract stage of the conveyancing procedure. This is usually the longest stage and it is when your solicitor will carry out searches and raise enquiries on your behalf. The conveyancing procedure is not an exact science and every case is different but on average it will take 4 - 6 weeks to complete the pre-contract stage.

Once all of the search results have been received and all enquiries are satisfactorily answered your solicitor will prepare a final property report for you which should explain his findings in plain English. If you are happy with the report and if the seller is ready it's time to move to the next stage of the conveyancing procedure.

3. The Pre-Completion Stage

This stage of the conveyancing procedure is where both yours and the seller's conveyancing solicitors prepare for completion. This involves ordering mortgage monies from the lender, collecting any balance needed from you and performing pre-completion searches.

The completion date will already have been fixed when contracts were exchanged. Typically there will be a week between exchange and completion though this is up to you and the seller to decide.

4.The Post-Completion Stage

The final stage of the conveyancing procedure is the post-completion stage. Most buyers won't even realise this is happening, they will have moved in and think that's that, but this is when your solicitor registers you as the owner of the property. This is vital as otherwise you won't be able to sell it in future.

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