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Three Responsibilities Of A Conveyancer In A Property Transaction

The Covid-19 pandemic and the stamp duty tax holiday introduced by the Chancellor to ensure the property market remains buoyant during this time of economic uncertainty has led to property sale and purchases taking longer than usual to complete.  Much of the delay has been caused by lenders being overwhelmed by applications at a time when many staff members are still furloughed.

Delays in conveyancing transactions are a common cause of frustration.  However, you can be assured that your conveyancing Solicitor is doing everything they can to close your transaction as quickly as possible.

21 October 2020
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Conveyancing Solicitors have many responsibilities.  When it comes to the sale and purchase of a property, here are the top three.

Examining the title

One of a Conveyancer’s first duties is to examine the title of the property that is being purchased.  They will establish whether it is freehold or leasehold.  Freehold means that the owner of the property owns the building and land outright.  The owner of a leasehold property is effectively buying a long-term lease, as someone else owns the freehold of the land.  If the lease expires and is not renewed, the ownership of the property will revert to the freeholder.

Your Conveyancer will provide advice regarding buying a leasehold property, and the risks associated with leases with under 80 years to run.

Request and check property searches

It is essential to carry out relevant property searches to ensure no nasty surprises occur after you have moved into your new home.  At a minimum, your Conveyancer will carry out a:

  • Local Authority Search

  • Water and Drainage Search

  • Environmental Search

These three searches will establish factors such as:

  • whether a local authority is planning a development which may affect your view or access to your property

  • if there are any issues with the drainage and water access and the locations of drains (which may affect any extension plans)

  • any problems with the land, for example, subsidence, or if the property was built on brownfield land there may be a risk of soil contamination

As the climate changes and the UK experiences wilder weather, your Conveyancer may also advise you to obtain a Flood Risk Search.  Other searches you may need include a:

  • Chancel Repair Search – to see if you, as a purchaser, will be liable to pay for repairs to a local church.

  • Mining Search – important if your property is near a former mine, as the land may be unstable.

  • Canal and Rivers Trust Search- this will highlight any potential issues with flooding and access/ works/ownership issues. 

Checking the forms provided by the seller and questioning any concerns

The main forms received from the seller are a Fittings and Contents Form (TA10) and a Property Information Form (TA6).  The former states what the seller plans to leave behind in the property.  You may be lucky and be dealing with a vendor who is happy to leave the oven and other items that fit perfectly in the house (such as curtain rails and large fridge freezers).  Or you may find they strip the house bare (which they are entitled to do).  Everything the seller plans to take or leave must be included in this form.  You can negotiate to have some fittings and contents left behind and your Conveyancer will facilitate this.

The Property Information Form provides detail on matters such as the boundaries, past and current planning permissions, previous building work, and any ongoing neighbour disputes.  This form often results in questions needing to be answered by the seller, again something your Conveyancer will facilitate.

In summary

As well as the above duties, the seller’s Conveyancer will draw up the sale and purchase contract.  A Conveyancer also checks the lending agreement if the purchaser is obtaining a mortgage and organises the exchange of contracts once the searches are complete and they are satisfied that all questions have been answered.  Once contracts are exchanged, both the seller and purchaser are legally bound to continue with the transaction.  Finally, they will, following instructions, set a completion date, in which all monies are paid, and the property officially changes hands.

Although what is detailed above may seem like a straightforward process, things can and do go wrong.  Many discount Conveyancers must take on large numbers of transactions to ensure their business is financially viable.  This can lead to crucial details and red flags being missed, resulting in purchasers having to spend unnecessary time and money after they have moved in.
Although an experienced Conveyancing Solicitor may be more expensive, they will have less files at any one time.  This means that they can provide personal service and take the time to carefully check the results of any searches and the seller’s forms.

Guillaumes LLP Solicitors is a full-service law firm based in Weybridge, Surrey.  We have a highly experienced residential property law team who can assist you with all Conveyancing matters.  To make an appointment, please call us on 01932 840 111.