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The UK is currently facing tighter restrictions and another potential lockdown as the coronavirus pandemic continues.

Even so, the property market remains very active. Buyers are taking advantage of the stamp duty holiday and the current format of the Help to Buy equity loan, while sellers are enjoying resilient house prices and high buyer demand when listing their homes for sale.

If you’re active in the market and preparing to sell your home, you may have heard a lot about the ‘conveyancing process’, but may be unclear on what this means.

Below, we outline exactly what the process entails.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing, to put it simply, is the legal transfer of home ownership from the seller to the buyer. The process starts when a buyer submits an offer and ends when the seller officially hands over the keys.

To begin with, your estate agent will negotiate with the buyer to obtain an appropriate offer. When this offer has been accepted by you, the seller, everything is set in motion. 

It is then your job to appoint a solicitor or conveyancer to conduct the conveyancing process on your behalf.

Question time

Once the conveyancing process is underway, you will be required to complete a range of comprehensive questionnaires about the property, including the TA 6, the TA 10 and the TA 13.

Your solicitor/conveyancer will then draw up a draft contract, marking out the terms of the purchase, which will in turn be sent to the buyer for approval.

There will need to be agreement between you and your buyer about details like the date of completion (this is usually 1-4 weeks after the exchange of contracts).

If a buyer’s survey flags up anything untoward – e.g. significant damp or roof problems – then there may need to be negotiations between you and your buyer over who will rectify any issues.

Exchanging contracts

Exchanging contracts is something that should be treated with the utmost seriousness – once you’re in, you’re in.

When the agreed time and date comes around, solicitors/conveyancers from both sides will exchange the contracts on your behalf.  

From this point, you have entered a legally binding contract to sell your property. If you withdraw post-exchange, your buyer can take you to court. On the other hand, exchanging contracts offers sellers protection, too. If the purchaser suddenly pulls out of the transaction before completion, you will probably be able to keep their deposit and may also be able to take legal action.

It’s also important to note that, once contracts have been exchanged, you will be unable to accept any offers from other interested parties.

The waiting game

Due to its complex nature, the conveyancing process could take a week, a month or – in some cases – even longer. This is because delays and complications can occur.

Remember, the home still legally belongs to you and you are under no obligation to move out right after the contracts have been exchanged. Nevertheless, it’s probably a wise idea to move out with plenty of time to spare before the date of completion.

You should also receive the buyer’s deposit immediately after exchange. It’s normally between 5-15% of the agreed sale price, but it can be much higher.

For example, if you have sold a home for £300,000, you would receive a 10% deposit of £30,000 once contracts have been exchanged.

Handing over the keys 

As mentioned before, the conveyancing process ends when you hand over the keys to your buyer.

Upon completion, you will get the outstanding balance of your sale price and your solicitor/conveyancer will hand over legal documents to the buyer – in doing so, confirming the change of ownership. Any outstanding mortgage on the property will then be paid off from the profits of the sale.

After all this, it is then time to pay your estate agent and solicitor/conveyancer for the work they have done to bring the sale to completion. 

It’s clear that conveyancing can be quite a complicated business. That’s why choosing the right estate agent can help to guide you through the process in a calm manner.

At Eden Estates, we will work closely with you and your conveyancer to ensure you get the best possible price for your home, all while adhering to the government guidelines. To find out more about our services in Kent and the surrounding areas, please get in touch with us today.

For an estimate on how much your home could be worth on the current market, we also provide a free and instant online valuation in just 60 seconds.