Your questions about investment property conveyancing answered
When you invest in property in the UK, it pays to have a good solicitor on your side. It may be the biggest single investment you will ever make, and I would always advise using a solicitor rather than a conveyancer. The more complex the property purchase, such as when buying off-plan property, the more likely it is that you’ll need specific legal advice during the buying process.
In this article, you’ll learn what a solicitor does for his conveyancing fee when you invest in property.
What is conveyancing?
Buying (or selling) property is a process that involves the legal transfer of ownership of that property. But it is not as simple as merely signing on the dotted line. There are a lot of steps between the decision to buy and the transfer of ownership, and a lot of paperwork and legal documents to agree. This legal process is called conveyancing.
As you move closer towards finalising your property investment, the conveyancing process ensures that all the legal documents required are prepared, executed, verified, and lodged. If you miss one of these documents, or it is not completed properly or in a timely fashion, your investment could implode. You might even lose your deposit. Once you have agreed to make a property investment, the steps of conveyancing usually include:
- Examining the contract for sale
- Arranging building inspections
- Arranging financial considerations
- Exchanging the contract of sale
- Paying the deposit
- Arranging payment of stamp duties
- Preparing and examining the mortgage agreement
- Checking if there are outstanding legal claims on the property
- Conducting local searches (e.g. for planned property developments)
- Discovery of current or previous disputes (e.g. over land, or fences between neighbours)
- Overseeing the change of title
- Completing any final checks prior to completion
- Attending completion
That’s a long list of duties. It includes some very complex processes. Put one foot wrong, and your investment could come unstuck. That’s why I never do the conveyancing myself. I always leave it to the professionals. (Do you know the 13 issues your solicitor must uncover when you invest off-plan?)
I have no desire to involve myself in the legal process of dealing with Land Registry, arranging and paying stamp duties, and drawing up and assessing contracts. It’s not in my skillset. I’m an investor, not a solicitor.
How long does the conveyancing process take?
Unfortunately, I can’t give you a definitive answer to this. It depends on many factors. There are many steps in the process that could suffer delays, and often you are reliant on a third party to keep in step with your solicitor. Conveyancing could take a couple of weeks but is more likely to take two or three months.
The exchange date
A key date in the conveyancing process is the exchange date. Contracts for the sale have been agreed. The contract will include details such as property size, items included in the sale, and, of course, the price.
When contracts are exchanged, you are legally bound to complete the purchase. A date for completion will also be included in the contract. As the buyer, you will be required to pay a deposit. After this point, if you pull out you could lose your deposit.
Completion usually takes between seven and 28 days from the exchange.
How much does conveyancing cost?
Conveyancing charges vary widely. The amount you pay will depend on the complexity of the property deal and whether you employ a solicitor or conveyancer. A conveyancer will be cheaper, but won’t be able to offer you specialised legal advice for more complex deals.
Some solicitors charge a flat fee, others may base their charge on the price of the property you are buying. As a guide, you should expect to pay between £700 and £1,500 for conveyancing.
Whatever you do, make sure you hire a solicitor who is experienced with the type of property investment you are making. Ensure that they will give you their full attention – and hire them as soon as possible after you have made the decision to invest.
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