Many people do not fully understand just how complex buying and selling a house actually is. After all, most of us have bought and sold a car at some point in time, which seems to involve filling out some documents, paying or receiving the money and there you have it, job done. How much different is a house and why do we have to have a solicitor costing us money, to essentially do the same thing? The simple truth is that there is an entirely different set of laws that distinguish between a house, or immovable property, and a boat or car which is movable. The process under which a property is sold is called Conveyancing, which strictly speaking does not have to be performed by a solicitor. You are totally at liberty to do it yourself, though most choose not to, as it is extremely complicated and time consuming. If a mortgage is involved the mortgage provider will almost certainly insist that it is conducted by a legal professional, to ensure it is done properly and completely.
The Process of Conveyancing
Conveyancing is the transfer of legal title from one person to another, and is generally performed in two stages. The first is an exchange of contracts between the seller and the buyer, mutually agreeing to sell and buy a property at an agreed upon price. This leads ultimately to completion, or settlement, when the legal title actually transfers. In theory it sounds simple, in practice, it is not. Firstly, it is the responsibility of the buyer to ascertain, if the seller is actually in a position to do so. This means confirming that the seller has good title to the property, which the seller does in fact own, and there is no factor which could prevent you from re-selling it later.
It is standard practice when buying or selling a house from Cumbria to Kent, for the buyer, once agreeing a price, to have the solicitor carry out extensive legal searches and pre-contract enquiries. These are designed to identify any factors that have not been disclosed, which could impact the buyers’ ownership of the property.
Exchange of Contracts
Under UK Law, agreements are not legally binding until contracts have been exchanged. While this provides either party the chance to pull out, it can be expensive and time consuming if the deal does not go through, for example, if you get gazumped, where another buyer comes along and offers the seller a higher price. It is UK Law that all contracts for the sale of land be in writing. Each party provides the other side with their contract. Once all due diligence on the property has been satisfactorily completed, both parties then sign and exchange the contracts and the sale is said to be complete.
Your house is normally the biggest and most expensive item that you ever buy, so it is not something you want to make a mistake with. While you may not fully understand exactly what your solicitor is doing, and why it takes so much time, allowing a professional to do your Conveyancing, is highly advisable and should be considered simply part of the costs in buying a property.