All of us are quite capable of filling in the correct details when we buy or sell a car, so how much more complicated can it be to exchange contracts when buying or selling a house? Do we really need to pay a lawyer, to do what seems quite straightforward? The act of conveyancing is after all the exchange of contracts transferring ownership, though with property, it is a little more complicated, as the legislation is far more involved.
Are both parties equally responsible for doing it right?
It is the responsibility of the buyer, to ensure that he or she gains fair title, i.e. that the seller does indeed own the property and is in a position to sell, and that there is nothing that could impede a subsequent resale by the new buyer. Conveyancing is designed to ensure that the buyer is actually getting the deal he thinks he is. He comes away with a house that he now legally owns and is aware of any issues or restrictions that the property may have. Caveat emptor, or buyer beware is not fully at play, as many jurisdictions have now introduced some protections for the buyer.
People can do it on their own, though can’t they?
There is nothing to prevent anyone from doing the conveyancing themselves, though it is a pretty labour intensive task and if a mortgage is involved the lender will almost certainly insist that a lawyer does it. There is no reason either for you to use the lawyer most local to the property concerned. Solicitors practicing property conveyancing in North East England, are quite capable today of handling conveyancing anywhere else in the country.
How long does the process take?
Under English law, agreements are not legally binding until contracts are exchanged. This allows freedom to both parties to pull out if they are unhappy about any aspect until the final moment. It can also of course waste time and money if a deal does not actually go through. This is the period between when an agreement has been made and legal checks are being processed when what is known as gazumping can occur. Gazumping is when someone comes along and offers the seller a higher price and your purchase is now not happening. A lesser known phenomenon called gazundering, may also occur. This involves the buyer offering a price, but subsequently threaten to withdraw the offer if the seller won’t take a lower price, so it is good to try to wrap the process up as quickly as you can, which again, normally makes the solicitors services invaluable. The normal period is about 10-12 weeks, though some may be quicker, or be more protracted.
Buying or selling a house, which is probably the most expensive thing you ever own is no simple thing. More often than not the sale will involve you and the contents of your house moving from one location to another as well, so it will be a very busy period. Conveyancing is in a very competitive market, so for the potential agony involved, a Conveyancing service is highly advisable and should really be seen as simply a component of the cost of buying a house.