Conveyancing for 1st Time Buyers Explained
As a first-time buyer, you may naturally feel apprehensive about what is involved in purchasing your first home. In-Deed’s comprehensive guide to the conveyancing process that will eventually end with you owning your own place will answer all your questions about what’s involved.
Conveyancing is the legal term that is used to explain the legal transfer or ownership of a property from one person to another. While this can be done by a layperson, a conveyancing solicitor or a specialist licensed conveyancer will usually handle all of the paperwork and legal legwork involved. When you are buying with a mortgage, your lender will insist that a professional be instructed to do the conveyancing.
Once you’ve spotted the home you are keen to buy, the first step is to make an offer on it, usually done via an estate agent. At this point, you need a solicitor or specialist conveyancer on your side. And In-Deed can help you navigate any hurdles in the way by finding the right legal professional for your budget and specific requirements. When you’re new to the property game, it’s always best to instruct a solicitor before you make an offer to ensure your interests are being looked after from the start. With an instant conveyancing quote from In-Deed, you’ll be ready to make a move.
When you’re buying with a mortgage, it’s a great idea to have a mortgage approval in principle before slapping in an offer on a property. Delays in securing finance to buy are one of the biggest obstacles in the way of first-time buyers purchasing their first property. Once you have your approval in principle, your solicitor will be able to liaise with the lender to ensure your finance is in place to buy.
All conveyancing quotes differ, which can seem confusing. Always check the small print of any quote you get. At In-Deed, we aim to be as transparent as possible in all of our pricing. Read more here about our Fixed Price Guarantee and our “no move, no fee” promise. Our standard quote for a first-time buyer purchase will include:
- Legal fees and VAT
- Administration fees
- Property auction supplement, where applicable
- Bank transfer (BACS or TT) fee
- Bankruptcy search arrangement fee
- Subject access request to Data Protection Act 1998
- Raising additional enquiries relating to the transaction
- Handling apportionments on leasehold transactions
- Handling notices of assignments on leasehold transactions (excludes freeholder disbursements where any apply)
- Exchanging contracts and completing the transaction within 5 days (simultaneous exchange and completion)
- Indemnity insurance arrangement fee (excludes cost of policy)
- Fee for calculating service charge arrests (excludes any service charges due)
- Newbuild property supplement on purchase transactions
- Arrangement (but not drawing up) of notice/deed of assignment (excludes freeholder disbursement if any)
- Obtaining copy documents from third parties (excludes cost of document)
- Preparation or approval of a key undertaking
- Contribution to solicitor’s professional indemnity
- Printing and providing copies of property searches
- Setting up a title indemnity or repair policy (excludes cost of policy)
- Stamp Duty Land Tax form completion fee
Disbursements are the fees and taxes that your conveyancing solicitor must pay to other organisations or third parties as part of the house-buying process. You can read more detail of what disbursements are here, but these are some of the more common disbursements you might have to pay for:
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (read more in our SDLT Guide)
- HM Land Registry fees
- Official copy entries and filed plan
- Searches (read more in our Guide to Searches)
- Land Charges (bankruptcy) search
- Local search indemnity insurance
- Other indemnity insurance
- Leasehold: landlord’s notice fee
- Leasehold Pack or Management Company Information
- Ground rent/service charge
Notification of sale – the estate agent posts the notification or memorandum of sale to each side’s solicitors. This document contains everyone’s contact details and is essential to kickstart the purchase process.
Complete the initial documentation – your solicitor will send you initial paperwork that you should complete and return as quickly as possible.
Certified ID – you need to provide two forms of ID that can confirm your identity. Your solicitor will tell what is required, but usually a passport or driving licence along with a recent utility bill containing your current address does the job.
Pay for disbursements – Before your solicitor or conveyancer can commission the essential searches required for a purchase, you must pay for these disbursements up front. The cost for searches disbursements through In-Deed is £360, but your solicitor may ask for other fees or taxes to be paid in advance, too – he or she will discuss these in detail with you. Once all the searches are completed, your solicitor will report back to you on what they reveal about the property you intend to buy.
Send enquiries to the seller and their solicitor – Once the solicitor has received the sale contract, they will send any enquiries to the seller and their solicitor. These are standard queries along with any specific questions you may have about the property and any contents included in the sale and any issues raised by the searches or survey result.
Receive replies to enquiries – Once the replies have been received to the initial enquiries, your solicitor will let you know if there are any other outstanding issues that need addressed.
Sign the contract – Your solicitor will send you the updated contract. Once you’ve read it and are happy with its contents, sign it and return it as soon as possible.
Send deposit funds to your solicitor – It is standard practice for a buyer to pay 10 percent of the purchase price as a deposit when the contracts are exchanged. Your solicitor will ask you to transfer those funds to their business account before the contract exchange.
Exchange of contracts – Once all the documentation has been signed and completed and you have paid the deposit, you and the seller exchange contracts. There is now no backing out from the purchase. At this point, you will all agree on a completion date, ie the date you can move into the property.
Pre-completion – You must ensure all the outstanding funds to buy the property are with your solicitor. When you are buying with a mortgage, your solicitor will have arranged with the lender to have the funds electronically transferred on completion day.
Completion – On the morning of completion, your solicitor will transfer the funds electronically to the seller’s solicitor. Once the funds have been received by the seller, their solicitor will confirm that the keys can be released to you. Ideally this will be around lunchtime or early afternoon but may be later in the day depending on the bank transfer.
Post-completion – Your solicitor now has 30 days to submit the Stamp Duty Land Tax return form and any tax owed to HMRC. They will also register you as the new owner of the property with HM Land Registry, a process that may take a few weeks to complete.
How long is a piece of string? Unfortunately, there is no definitive answer to this question. The average conveyancing process can take from eight to 12 weeks, assuming there are no complications or issues raised on the sale price, survey results or searches, for example. However, a purchase transaction can be completed in a shorter time. In-Deed solicitors do, on average, complete earlier than 12 weeks. So, when you need to complete fast, talk to your In-Deed solicitor at the start of the process to get an idea of how long it’s likely to take.
At In-Deed, we provide a bespoke conveyancing service for first-time buyers. We will provide you with a dedicated, experienced professional who will work with you from start to finish. All our conveyancing quotes come with a Fixed Price Guarantee that the price you are quoted is the price you will pay. And with our “no completion, no fee” promise, you won’t be out of pocket if your transaction fails to complete for any reason. Call us now on 0330 100 2322 for an instant quote.