Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important investments many of us will ever make. The conveyancing process should be straightforward but rarely is. Conveyancing solicitors take care of all the legal aspects of a house sale, including the contracts, property searches and mortgage checks. They will also deal with the exchange of funds and the transfer of ownership, from buyer to seller. A good conveyancing solicitor can make a house purchase as pain-free as possible.
At Burningham & Brown, we've been providing conveyancing services to our clients in Bath and the surrounding area for over 70 years. In that time, we've built an enviable reputation for our professional service, and clear advice and guidance. Here are 10 common pitfalls we regularly see in the conveyancing process - and how you can avoid them.
1. Not instructing a solicitor soon enough
If you are buying or selling a property, you should instruct a solicitor as soon as possible. When choosing a solicitor, ensure that they are members of the CQS (Conveyancing Quality Scheme).
Operated by the Law Society, CQS accreditation is only given to those legal firms that offer the highest quality service.
While many online conveyancing firms may appear cheaper, it's crucial to establish what you are receiving. If you're a first-time buyer, or your house sale or purchase is complicated, then we recommend you find a solicitor that you can meet in person and work with you throughout the process such as ourselves.
2. The wrong ID
When proving your identity, only certain forms of ID are acceptable. The rules around identification in the conveyancing process are set out by the Government. It's crucial that you provide all ID when requested, or this can delay the process. Acceptable forms of ID include a current signed passport, driving licence or Council Tax Bill.
Only original forms of ID are acceptable, photocopies or pictures are not enough. Your solicitor will provide information on acceptable forms of ID when you speak to them. Following their advice can avoid delays.
3. Form-filling failures
The conveyancing process involves a considerable amount of paperwork, and it's your responsibility to complete it as quickly as possible. Any delays in signing and returning paperwork will affect the speed of your sale or purchase.
When completing forms, it's crucial that you study the detail. While many of the general public seems happy to ignore terms and conditions, failing to complete a document correctly or supplying incorrect information can quickly derail the conveyancing process. Our advice is to take the time to read all the documentation and return everything as soon as possible.
4. Leasehold management pack delays
If you're buying a leasehold property like a flat, your conveyancing solicitor will request to see a management pack. The leasehold management pack includes details on service charges, ground rent and necessary insurances as well as other important leasehold information.
The property's managing agent or freeholder should supply the pack in a timely manner. Any delays in securing this information can disrupt the purchase process.
5. Planning permission problems
A lack of planning permission for common home improvements like loft conversions, conservatories and porches can cause severe delays to the conveyancing process. The lack of planning documentation can often come to light during the purchase process, taking some sellers by surprise. In some cases, sellers may be asked to purchase an indemnity policy to cover works. If works are dangerous, or costly to fix, buyers may seek to renegotiate the property price.
If you're selling a house, ensure that you have all documentation for all alterations that have been made. If you are unsure or unaware of whether work has the appropriate planning documentation, then it's important to check with your local authority. If you're buying a property, ask the estate agent about all property additions and whether the correct permissions have been obtained.
6. Chain breakdowns
Buying a property is complicated, but when you're part of a chain, that complexity increases. Other parties in the chain may have different expectations or different timescales which can affect how quickly you're able to progress. In this situation, there's very little that we can do to accelerate the process. However, an experienced conveyancing solicitor can keep you informed of any delays and provide a realistic timeframe for completion.
Unfortunately, for many reasons, sometimes chains can fall apart. In this situation, we will work with you through the process until the broken link can be repaired.
7. Loss of Title Deeds
In the UK, all title deeds should be registered with HM Land Registry. If we discover that the title deeds have been lost, or the property hasn't been registered at the Land Registry, will require the Title Deed be reconstructed or reconstituted - a complex and lengthy process. Any missing Title Deeds or information such as this can delay the conveyancing process.
8. Search delays
A vital role that the conveyancer plays is in ensuring that the property you are purchasing or selling is safe and protected. To do so, we check all certification, including gas and electricity certificates and FENSA certificates that cover the proper installation of new windows. If these certificates have been lost or misplaced, it can hold up the process. If you're selling a home, ensure that you have all safety certification kept in one place - ideally somewhere that's secure and protected.
9. Substandard conveyancing in the past
Poor conveyancing in the past can throw up significant problems when you come to sell your home. If the conveyancing process wasn't done correctly, you may not be aware of hidden charges to your property or access rights to your land, for example, that could potentially derail a sale. In this situation, a conveyancing solicitor will identify the problems and develop a strategy or plan to mitigate them. The morale of this tale it to choose your conveyancing solicitor wisely, or it could cause you significant problems when you come to sell your home.
10. Money matters
Your conveyancing solicitor will manage the transfer of funds from the buyer to the seller. This happens in two phases, the exchange of a deposit, and the transfer of funds required for completion. At this stage, your conveyancing solicitor needs to have access to cleared funds to make the transfer; without it, the process can be delayed. As a buyer or seller, you're entrusting large amounts of your money to someone, so ensure they are someone you trust.
Why instruct Burningham & Brown?
The conveyancing process can be complicated, but it doesn't need to be. Using a trusted and qualified local solicitor can ensure the process is completed as efficiently and effectively as possible.
At Burningham & Brown, we're a trusted local firm of qualified solicitors that can take care of your conveyancing needs. We've been operating from Bath for over 70 years, helping many families and individuals to complete the sale or purchase of their home with the minimum of disruptions or delays.
Our clients value our expertise and welcome our transparent pricing. Every one of our clients receives a full, itemised breakdown of costs, including our fees and other expenses such as Stamp Duty Land Tax, Land Registry fees, VAT and search fees. Every one of our customers benefits from our guarantee that a Qualified Regulated Solicitor will do all of your work, ensuring accuracy and integrity, as well as consistency of service that's unrivalled in the industry.
To learn more about our conveyancing services, please contact David Gay who can discuss your requirements. You can email him directly at email@example.com or telephone the main switchboard on 01225 320090.
Burningham & Brown is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority - SRA Number: 8000096