Dear Barry

Ask Barry Image

Last week I spoke about the importance of building and maintaining a strong network of property professionals in order to offer a well-rounded service - both to the clients I serve in business, and to the readers I serve through the information on this blog.

This brings us very neatly on to today's article, which is an introduction to a special, year-long series of articles which has come about due to the strength of this professional circle I have.

Throughout 2019, my Industry Information articles will be dedicated to the conveyancing process; in short - the legal process by which a property transfers ownership from one party to another, usually as a result of the property being sold.

Over the course of the year, I will take you step-by-step through the conveyancing process - both from the buyer's and the seller's perspective - breaking it down in a way which should hopefully remove some of the mystery of the process and leave you feeling confident and informed.

Today's article serves as a quick introduction to the series and I want to use it firstly to drive home an important point, one I have already mentioned in recent weeks.

When selling a property, you should instruct your solicitor at the same time as you instruct your agent.

We all know that property sales and purchases can take a long time. The other party may be facing delays and difficulties on their side, surveys can throw up unexpected issues... but there are some issues which delay properties changing hands that could be avoided altogether if your solicitor is involved from the get-go.

Title deeds are are paper documents showing the chain of ownership for land and property. They can include: conveyances, contracts for sale, wills, mortgages and leases.

Your property's title deeds are held by a mortgage lender, most likely. That lender will have off-site storage where those deed documents are held securely. (Think military-level secure. Seriously.) It can take up to a fortnight for deeds to arrive at your solicitor's office.

Here's a rough break-down of the process:

  • The solicitor sends in a request for the deeds.
  • The request might take a while to reach the warehouse - which is likely to be a building about half the size of Belfast! 
  • Once the documents are located, they've got to be checked, verified, parcelled up and sent to your solicitor via recorded delivery.

Even when that process happens at optimum efficiency, it can take about a fortnight - sometimes it will take three weeks.

So, if your solicitor begins that process at the same time as you bring that property to market, two weeks later the deeds are in their hands and they can check them through for any issues that might complicate or scupper the sale - long before you even get to that stage.

For example - say there was an extension built on to the house, but there is no evidence of building control or planning permission. Maybe there is gas heating, but there is no gas safety certificate. Maybe it still needs an energy performance certificate.

The solicitor can start troubleshooting these issues while your agent is busy marketing the property, and have all the necessary paperwork in place well before you start negotiating with interested buyers.

By the time you get to the stage where offers are being made or accepted, you have all the necessary paperwork sitting neat and tidy, ready to go - most people get to this stage and THEN get the solicitor involved. No wonder there can be delays.

It really highlights the importance of getting the right team to be involved in your property sale because it is a team effort between an estate agent and a solicitor - they need to work together and have efficient lines of communication. This gives you the best possible chance of a good outcome with less stress.

So, if you would like to find out more about this fascinating process, watch this space! We kick off next month with an article that answers the question on the lips of most people sitting in a solicitor's office, about to begin their conveyancing journey - How much will this cost?


If you are about to buy or sell a property and have any questions about the legal aspect of property sales, drop me a line to or join the conversation over on FacebookTwitter or Linked In.