Conveyancing: a guide for first time buyers

21st October 2018

Buying a home is stressful, especially for first-time buyers, so it is wise to do some research to ensure you know exactly what is involved. Conveyancing is the term that refers to the legal process of transferring one person's property (the seller) to another (the buyer).

What does the process involve?
Put simply; this is what conveyancing looks like from start to finish:
Get your mortgage sorted out before you start looking, so you know what your budget is.
Find the property you want.
Put in an offer i.e. tell the seller what you are willing to pay for the property. This is also the time to raise any conditions you have.
The offer is accepted. At this point, you will need a survey to check the property's condition, and your solicitor will review any legal issues.
The checks will include a wide range of examinations, including the structural integrity of the property, whether there are any signs of subsidence, damp or damage, and whether there are any existing plans for the immediate area that may impact the property. Your solicitor will also check with the local authority, utilities and environmental department to find out if there are common drains that serve multiple properties, if there is any history of land contamination, or if you are responsible for any shared public access points. They will also look at the deeds and boundaries to see if there are any disputes with neighbouring properties. If everything is in order, you can move onto the next step ??" buying your home.
Exchange. This is when you pay your deposit, which means you cannot go back on the deal without losing a lot of money.
Completion. Now you hand over the rest of the money for the house in exchange for both the keys and the deeds. At this point, the property is legally yours.

You should note that nobody is legally bound to complete the transaction until contracts are exchanged.

What is Gazumping?
This term refers to another buyer offering more money to the seller than you have, and the seller goes back on the deal you made. Sadly, you cannot legally protect yourself from this happening if this occurs prior to exchange. However, it is always worth asking the seller to take the property off the market as part of your original offer. This rapidly reduces the likelihood of another buyer submitting a higher offer.

What is Gazanging?
Gazanging is when the seller cancels the sale to stay in their property. This could occur when the market price shoots up, as there is a good chance the seller will make more money if they wait to sell in a few months' time.

In the unfortunate even that you suffer from either gazumping or gazanging, you will probably lose a lot of money, especially if this occurs just before the point of exchange. Typically, both your solicitor and surveyor will have carried out a lot of work, costing you both your precious time and money. All you can do is act quickly when it comes to finalising the offer and exchanging the contracts. This will probably involve working with your solicitor and mortgage lender to speed things up.

Finding a mortgage and doing all the checks
If you are buying a property then make sure you have got your finances in place first. If you go house hunting before you have gone mortgage hunting, you will complicate the process, especially if you don't get the full amount you need and have to scrabble around to make up the shortfall. Do not automatically go with the first lender you find; mortgage products change almost daily. There are so many mortgage lenders out there, all eager for your business. It is almost inevitable that another lender will match your bank's offer, or even try to tempt you with a better deal.

Always get a personalised mortgage illustration: this should highlight the important features of your mortgage. Taking out this kind of loan is a massive commitment, so do your due diligence and do not sign up for anything you will regret later on. Remember, a mortgage typically lasts for 25 years, so this is a long-term commitment and not something to be rushed into without a lot of careful thought.

Choose Your Conveyancing Specialist
Use a qualified Conveyancer such as a Solicitor or CILEX to advise you and manage the transaction. They will handle all the paperwork and conduct the necessary searches to satisfy both the Land Registry and local council. They will also draft the contract, manage the exchange of money between the buyer and the seller, and make sure that the process goes as smoothly and quickly as possible.

Web site content note: This is not legal advice; it is intended to provide information of general interest about current legal issues.

If you have any questions on the matters raised in this article, please contact our property department on 01491 572138 or at mail@mercerslaw.co.uk.

Request a Call Back