What is a Licensed Conveyancer?
For many years all conveyancing transactions in Britain were overseen by a Solicitor.
In 1985 the Government passed legislation removing the monopoly from solicitors. Licensed Conveyancers were introduced as a means of undertaking the process and founder Jim was one of the first in the country to obtain the new qualification.
A Licensed Conveyancer is someone who is trained and qualified in all aspects of the law dealing with property. Once qualified a Licensed Conveyancer can act for buyers, sellers and lenders in exactly the same way as a Solicitor.
All Licensed Conveynacers have to undergo a rigorous examination by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers before they are allowed to practice as a Licensed Conveyancer, and the Council enforces a rigid code of conduct.
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers deal with the regulation of all professionals working as Licensed Conveyancers as well as dealing with compalints procedures and Professional Indemnity Insurance (protecting the customer against loss in the event of the Licensed Conveyancer being negligent when carrying out the conveyancing). The Council also manage a Compensation Fund protecting the customer against loss in the event that the Licensed Conveyancer fails to act properly, is dishonest or fraudulent
A renewal application is necessary every year and, should we fail to meet the stringent requirements imposed by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers we would not obtain a licence to practice.
Find out more about the operation of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers here.
How long does it take?
This depends on a number of factors, and unfortunately most of them are not entirely within our control. A standard transaction, with no unforeseen complications or delays arising, should normally take around 6 to 8 weeks. That isn't though to say that the process can't be completed sooner if all parties are committed to such.
When such delays do occur, you can rest assured that our staff and procedures enable you to achieve Completion as quickly as possible. We cannot though provide any guarantee at the outset that everything will be in place to complete by any particular date, and advise you to be very wary of anyone who thinks they can. Common causes of delay can be:
- Length of the chain involved – a delay at one point in the chain will delay everyone else
- A Delay in the Mortgage process, perhaps because a reference required by the lender from a third party is not immediately forthcoming, or because the mortgage lender is unusually busy
- Mortgage offer issued with unforeseen conditions
- Searches or enquiries revealing something unexpected which perhaps take longer to deal with than expected
- Someone else in the chain not wanting to proceed as quickly as the others.
What are Searches?
Searches are enquiries submitted to various authorities which provide you with more information about the property you intend on purchasing.
Searches provide crucial information relating to the property which might not well be visible on your own inspection, for example whether or not the road serving it is a publicly adopted highway, whether there are any mineshafts in the immediate vicinity, whether it is subject to any planning enforcement notices etc.
If you are buying without mortgage, you can, should you so wish, proceed without undertaking searches.
If you are buying subject to mortgage then undertaking searches and a legal representative ensuring that no issues are revealed is a condition of the mortgage.
We will assess the location of the property and advise on the searches necessary. These will often be :
1. Local Authority Search
This search provides information relating to the property that you are buying. It does not cover the surrounding area. It will show:
- A list of relevant entries in the Local Charges Register
- Information on planning applications relevant to the property (granted or refused)
- Building control history
- Any enforcement action
- Restrictions on permitted development
- Nearby road schemes
- Contaminated land
- Radon gas information
2. Drainage and Water Search
This will reveal if there are any public sewers within the boundaries of the property, or nearby, which could affect future development or building work. It will show if the property is connected to mains water and drainage, whether the sewers are adopted, and also the location of public water mains.
3. Coal Mining and Brine Search
This search will identify whether your property is in an area where coal or brine mining has occurred, or is likely to take place. In addition, it will reveal the existence of underground coal/brine workings, mine entries that may cause subsidence, whether compensation for subsidence has been paid in the past or repairs carried out, and if there are any outstanding claims.
What happens if a search result raises an issue?
Firstly don't panic!
We will look at the issue raised and, where necessary obtain any further information from the Seller we think is required. Once we have all of the information we will discuss the problem with you. Most problems which arise can be dealt with easily, and we will discuss the various options available to you. If it cant we will advise you on the best way forward.
Do I need a survey?
What happens on Exchange of Contracts?
Exchange of Contracts takes place between the respective legal representatives of the Buyer and Seller, usually via telephone. They check that their clients have signed identical contracts, agree a Completion date and agree to send each other the contracts signed by their respective clients straight away. The Buyer is expected to pay up to 10% of the purchase price at this stage as a contract deposit – this is normally held by the Seller’s solicitor pending completion.
Only when contracts have been exchanged is the transaction legally binding. Until then either Seller or Buyer can seek to renegotiate the purchase price, Completion date, or other terms discussed, or can withdraw from the transaction altogether, without any obligation to compensate the other party.
Once Exchange of Contracts has happened, dates and terms are fixed and everyone can make their moving arrangements. Do not be tempted to leave Exchange until just before, or even the same day as, the Completion date you are aiming for. Whilst possible, it takes away the time you have to make the arrangements for moving. We recommend that you allow at least 7 working days between exchange of contracts and Completion. In practice this period can sometimes be shorter, but there is an increased risk of something going wrong because someone does not have time to get organised.
If either the Buyer is dependent on the sale of another property, or the Seller is dependent on another purchase, they will need to Exchange Contracts simultaneously on the dependent transactions.
What happens on Completion?
After all this time reaching Completion will be a relief.
This is the point where the Buyer’s solicitor transfers the purchase money from their bank account to the Seller’s solicitor’s bank account, the ownership of the property is transferred to the Buyer, and the Seller’s solicitor arranges for the keys to be handed over. This all happens on the same day. The legal completion date is agreed on Exchange of Contracts. Any Completion date discussed before Exchange of Contracts is purely tentative and should not be relied on. We recommend that you don’t book removals or give notice to quit rented property until Exchange of Contracts has taken place.
How do I collect my Keys?
When you are selling, and one is instructed, keys are left with the estate agents. The estate agents will not release the keys to the property unless authorised to do so by us. We will always notify you once we have made that call. This authority is only given when the full purchase monies have been received by us to complete the matter. Once we have given the agents notification that keys can be released they will likely call you to check on your position regarding moving out. There will need to be some common sense exercised to enable you to move out before the new owners move in, you should try and make any arrangements you can prior to the day. You should keep in close contact with the agents.
Similarly, where you are buying, the keys can be collected from the estate agents once the full purchase price has been paid to the Seller's legal representatives and they have acknowledged receipt of it. You should liaise with the estate agents as to your Sellers position regarding moving out, the agents will understand you are keen to get your keys and begin moving as quickly as possible.
If there is no agent, direct communications between seller and buyer will need to be made. We would recommend you discuss these arrangements prior to completion date.
You should ensure you have your phone handy throughout completion day so that we and the agents can get in touch with you!
Where you have a purchase but no sale then completion can often take place early on the completion day (the bank system permitting). Where a chain is involved then it will be later as we will need to receive sale monies.
The time of completion is to a certain extent beyond our control. The monies are paid through the banking system, and of course there are many thousands of transactions taking place every day. On particularly busy days, the money can take some time to move through the banking system. On other occasions it can take as little as ten minutes for the money to transfer. For this reason, some completions take place early in the day, whilst others happen late in the afternoon. Our pre completion procedures and knowledgeable staff will make sure that we can get things concluded as quickly as possible.