Welcome back to my series on the conveyancing process.
If you're new to the blog - and indeed, to property - conveyancing is the process by which a property legally changes hands; in other words, this is the bit of a house sale/purchase that the solicitors look after.
This is the first of seven articles I'm publishing this year to walk you through what happens at each stage, whether you are buying or selling a property.
Obtains Title Deeds from the vendor or their bank/building society and if applicable, the redemption figure from the vendor's lending institution.
Obtains and then checks Title Deeds and Contract
As I have said before, the first thing I say to anyone buying or selling a property is: "Have you instructed your solicitor yet?" Why? Because this first part of the conveyancing process can often take two to three weeks depending on where the deeds for the property in question currently are.
Unless the vendor owns the property outright, it's likely they will be held by a mortgage lender and will be stored in highly-secure off-site storage. And while that's of course very reassuring on one level, it also means the process of requesting and obtaining that all important document can take up to three weeks.
Instruct your solicitor as soon as you decide the house is going on the market, and it means they can work on this in the background while your estate agent puts the property up for sale and markets it for you.
From a buyer's point of view, I would also get your solicitor on board as early in the process as possible. If you're wise, you will also already have a good independent mortgage advisor, and an Agreement in Principle in place before you start the house hunt.
The first thing a good solicitor will do, whether you're the purchaser or the seller, is to outline the process ahead and lay out exactly what to expect and what's required from you in a quotation or letter of engagement.
At this stage, you will be expected to make a payment upfront (known as a payment on account) to cover outlays, such as fees for obtaining necessary documents and reports. This is usually around £300 and is needed before they can get to work, so paying this promptly keeps the wheels moving on your sale or purchase - top tip!
The vendor's solicitor will get the deeds and check them. They look for things that may cause problems in the future - for example, did you build an extension but there are no details about planning permission or building control in the Deeds?
Meanwhile, the vendor will complete a number of forms to confirm vital details on the property and its contents, including a fixtures and fittings list. These questionnaires will allow the solicitor to include clear details of exactly what you are including in the sale. This is also where you'll pass on details of whether you own the freehold, and if not, to give details on the leasehold.
The vendor's solicitor will then prepare the draft contract and sends this to the purchaser's solicitor with supporting documentation, including the Title Deeds.
Usually included in the draft contract will be:
Once received, the prospective purchaser's solicitor will carry out their own checks on the Title Deeds and Contract.
Which brings us neatly on to next month's article. Stage two will cover the Contract and Offer.
I always love to know what you think when I introduce something new to the blog, so don't be shy. What do you think of the Conveyancing series so far? Is it answering your questions? Is it raising new ones? Is there anything you need me to dig into a little more deeply or explain differently?
Join the conversation over on my social media, or drop me a line via email - the links for all of these are in the top right-hand corner of this screen. Get in touch about this article, or indeed any Belfast property questions you might have - I am always happy to help.