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Wednesday, 3 October 2023

Conveyancing for sellers

Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. Conveyancing also includes the various searches and enquiries and any final tasks following the sale. Find out what you need to do and where to find a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to help you.

Conveyancing: transferring the ownership of property

There are three main stages of conveyancing for sellers, with tasks that need to be done at each point:

  1. Pre-contractual stage
  2. Exchange of contracts
  3. Completion

1. Pre-contractual stage

Once you have accepted an offer for your property, legal documents need to be prepared to transfer ownership from you to the buyer. As the seller, you are responsible for drawing up a legal contract. If you have hired a solicitor or licensed conveyancer, they will do this work for you. The buyer then checks the draft contract and may wish to negotiate its contents.

The contract contains details including:

  • what the boundaries of the property are
  • which fixtures and fittings, like carpets and kitchen units, are included in the sale
  • how much the property is being sold for
  • any legal restrictions or rights on the property, like any public footpaths or rules about use of the property
  • any planning restrictions in place
  • a description of the services to the property, eg drainage and gas
  • the date for completing the sale (called completion)

Your solicitor or licensed conveyancer will do the following on your behalf:

  • draft the initial contract
  • answer questions from the buyer’s solicitor or licensed conveyancer – they will need your assistance for many of the answers
  • negotiate the details of the contract if necessary

Providing an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC)

You will need to have an EPC ready for potential buyers from the first day your property is on the market. To find out more about what you need to do to provide an EPC, see ‘Getting an Energy Performance Certificate’.

2. Exchange of contracts

When the seller and buyer are happy with its contents, they sign final copies of the contract and send them to each other - this is the ‘exchange of contracts’. Once contracts are exchanged, the agreement to sell and buy is legally binding and usually neither party can pull out without paying compensation.

Your solicitor or conveyancer will answer any further queries from the buyer’s solicitor or licensed conveyancer. The buyer’s solicitor or licensed conveyancer will prepare the legal documents to transfer ownership. You will need to check with the buyer who will be responsible for insurance of the property once contracts are exchanged.

3. Completion

Once contracts have been exchanged and any remaining checks by the buyer have been dealt with:

  • the money is transferred from the buyer to you
  • the legal documents needed to transfer ownership are handed over to the buyer
  • you move out and leave the property in the state agreed in the contract
  • you hand over the keys to the property to the buyer

The property now belongs to the buyer.

Finding someone to do the conveyancing

Many people hire someone who is professionally trained to do the conveyancing, but you could do it yourself. ‘Finding a solicitor or conveyancer’ explains how to find someone who is qualified and what to consider if you want to do the conveyancing yourself.

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