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Conveyance Process
Legally, conveyancing can be undertaken by anyone. However, the process can be time consuming and complicated and most people prefer to employ a professional. In addition, most lenders will insist on a solicitor or licensed conveyancer acting for them if the transaction involves a mortgage.

While "family solicitors" can do the work involved, many people opt to use specialised conveyancers, who are qualified in property matters. In England and Wales, both solicitors and licensed conveyancers can deal with property conveyancing. Licensed conveyancers do not operate in Scotland. The important thing to remember when choosing a conveyancer is to check that the person that you choose to deal with your conveyancing matters is regulated by a governing body such as the Law Society or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

Conveyancing process
Your conveyancer should undertake the following...

Receipt of draft contracts
This contract is a legal document that sets out the terms of the sale. It is initially drafted by the seller's conveyancer. It will contain details about the property, items that are to be included in the sale, the buyer's and seller's particulars, how much the property will be sold for, and the transaction date. It has two parts - The Particulars of Sale and The Condition of Sale. The Particulars describe the property and details of the lease or freehold. The Conditions have information about the proposed completion date and any deposit required when contracts are exchanged.

Preliminary work
Before he starts working on the contract, your conveyancer will send a list of questions to the seller's conveyancer, such as:

1). What is included in the sale? What contents will the vendor leave behind?
2). What are the boundaries of the property? Who owns and is responsible for any perimeter structures (like fences, hedges, etc)?
     a). Is the property connected to all the appropriate utilities?
     b). If it is a leasehold, he'll ask: Who is the managing agent?
     c). Who is the freeholder? Is the owner up to date with service charge bills and ground rent?

Property Information form
Your conveyancer will send you a summary of the items that will go into the draft contract, such as fixtures, fittings, boundaries, etc. You should check that it meets your expectations.

Registry search and Land charge
Your conveyancer will check that the seller actually owns the property and is permitted to sell it. He should include any convenants associated with the property. He should obtain the title deed and the Land Registry certificate for the property.

Local searches
The local authority will check if new developments are planned (such as new roads or other construction) next to the property. The authority should also check water drainage and planning restrictions on and next to the property. These searches can take anywhere from two to ten weeks to complete, dependent upon your local authority's backlog of requests.

You can speed up the process by employing a surveyor to do a Personal Search. This means that you pay an additional fee to a local expert who will usually do the same work as the council in a week or less. This surveyor can also expand the search to look at developments happening in the area, not just next to your property.

Draft contract approved
Once the buyer and seller are satisfied with the terms, draft contracts are sent out to both parties for signature.

Formal mortgage offer
The buyer needs to assure the seller that he can pay for the property - through a mortgage in this case - before he will hand over the keys.

Arrange for completion
In the ideal world, you would exchange contracts the same day you pick up the keys. But that doesn't always work. You may exchange contracts several days or weeks before formally completing the sale by taking possession of the keys.

Legal stages in England and Wales
First stage: Sale agreed

Seller's conveyancer
Obtains your title deeds and asks you to fill in a detailed questionnaire.
Prepares and sends out a package of legal information and a contract for sale.
Requests a settlement figure for your mortgage and any other secured loans.
Liaises with all relevant parties and negotiates a date for moving ('completion').

Buyer's conveyancer
Organises searches at the local authority on your behalf, and asks you for a sum on account of such expenses.
Receives replies to questions raised, and reports to you with the contract for signing. Requests your deposit.
Receives mortgage offer and deals with all the conditions on your behalf.
Receives search results and deals with any problems revealed.

Second stage: Exchange of contracts
Seller's conveyancer
Receives the deposit as a down payment.
Organises final accounts and prepares a final settlement for your approval. Collects any balance of funds required.
Approves the deed of transfer and arranges for you to sign.

Buyer's conveyancer
Hands over the deposit to the seller's conveyancers.
Prepares a final completion statement for your approval. Collects any balance of funds required.
Prepares the deed of transfer and mortgage deed and arranges for you to sign them.
Organises final searches to check for debts and bankruptcy.

Third stage: Completion
Seller's conveyancer
Pays off the mortgage and notifies HM Land Registry.
Hands over the deeds and sends balance of money to you.

Buyer's conveyancer
Receives and arranges for payment of any stamp duty to the Inland Revenue.
Prepares and sends off application to HM Land Registry to register your ownership.
If property is mortgaged, sends deeds to the lender.
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