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Conveyancing: What Are The Timescales?

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You’ve had an offer accepted on a property you want to buy so the only thing that matters now is getting to a completion date as quickly as possible, right? So how long will it take?

This is a question that we are asked frequently.  If there is no chain involved, the time from initial instruction to completion is approximately 6-8 weeks.  Many factors can impact on this timescale however.  The quickest transactions proceed where the buyer is able to purchase without the assistance of a mortgage and searches are not required but given the economic backdrop and the average house price, this scenario doesn’t occur very often.

Irrespective of whether the purchase is for cash or with a mortgage, due diligence must be undertaken by the purchaser.  The Latin phrase “Caveat Emptor” (buyer beware) applies directly to the purchase of property.  The purchaser must satisfy themselves that the property is suitable and of the required quality before they commit to the purchase.

The process usually follows the steps below:-

1. An offer is made which is accepted by the seller and both buyer and seller instruct a conveyancer to deal with the legalities.

2. A survey is arranged on the property and an application for a mortgage is made (if required).

3. The contract pack is prepared by the seller’s conveyancer and sent to the buyer’s conveyancer to check.  Pre-contract enquiries are raised and searches are ordered (if required).  The buyer’s conveyancer prepares the transfer document that will change the ownership of the property at the Land Registry.
4. Pre-contract enquiries are answered and sent to the buyer’s conveyancer.
5. The mortgage offer is received, checked and reported on by the buyer’s conveyancer.
6. All replies, title, contract and associated paperwork are reviewed by the buyer’s conveyancer and a report to the buyer is prepared. The buyer then considers this report and discusses with the conveyancer any issues.
7. The buyer’s conveyancer prepares a completion statement showing a breakdown of all financial costs of the purchase.
8. When the buyer is happy to proceed, the deposit is paid to the buyer’s conveyancer in readiness for exchange of contracts.
9. Seller and buyer agree on a completion date and contracts are formally “exchanged” – meaning both the buyer and seller are legal bound to conclude the transaction. The buyer’s conveyancer requests funds from the mortgage provider in readiness for the completion date.
10. On the day of completion the buyer’s conveyancer sends the purchase money to the seller’s conveyancer.  On receipt of the money, the seller’s conveyancer will release the keys and the buyer can move in.  Even though there is a time set for completion in the contract, in practice, completion happens when the money is received by the seller’s conveyancer.
11. Any Stamp Duty Land Tax payable to HMRC is paid on completion and a certificate obtained from HMRC.
12. Once the transfer document is received from the seller’s conveyancer, an application is prepared and sent to the Land Registry to register the property in the buyer’s name.
If there is a particular date you are working towards, or a date to avoid it is always a good idea to let us know at the outset so we can endeavor to achieve your aims.
We have teams of conveyancing specialists across each of our four offices who can assist with all aspects of property sales and purchases.  For a free conveyancing estimate please click here

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