As a seller, you might wonder whether you really need a Conveyancer. After all, you're not the one spending thousands of pounds buying the property, so you might think it's not vital to get legal help.
However, a seller needs a Conveyancer just as much as a buyer. As the seller, you must comply with certain legal obligations, draft and negotiate the terms of the contract, and pay any monies owed. Only then can any equity be transferred.
If you do not conduct the Conveyancing process properly as a seller, you could put yourself in a very risky situation. This could cost a lot of time and money, and if you breach the rules that are in place, there could be other adverse consequences too. For example, if you knowingly conceal any defects relating to the property, you could be found guilty of fraud.
What a Conveyancer Does for the Seller
Ideally a seller should instruct a Conveyancer as soon as accepting an offer, as their input is needed for the entire process. For example, the seller's Conveyancer will:
1. Identity check
Once instructed the seller's Conveyancer must complete an identity check on the seller to comply with anti-money laundering regulations. When the buyer's conveyancer applies to register the property following completion they will tell the Land Registry which firm acted for the seller so that the Land Registry can rely upon the check made by that firm.
2. Gather documentation
The seller's Conveyancer will clarify what terms have been agreed regarding the sale, obtain the title deeds and details of all mortgages or other financial charges secured ono the property. They will send their client a number of forms to complete, including a property information form and a fittings and contents form. These are intended to gather as much information as possible about the property, and will later be sent to the buyer's Conveyancer. The seller's Conveyancer will also request any other supporting documents that will be required such as NHBC, FENSA and other guarantees, indemnity policies, gas safety certificates and planning permission and building regulation certificates.
3. Draft the contract
Once all the forms have been completed and the supporting documents gathered, the seller's Conveyancer will use the information to draft a contract. This will be sent to the buyer's Conveyancer, along with the completed property forms and all other relevant documents as part of the pre-contract package.
4. Respond to enquiries
After reviewing the documents, the buyer's Conveyancer will typically have some questions. This stage of the Conveyancing process is known as 'raising enquiries'. The seller's Conveyancer will provide guidance to the seller about which matters do and which do not require disclosure in answering any questions.
5. Negotiate the contract
The seller's Conveyancer will also negotiate the terms of the contract with the buyer's Conveyancer. This involves negotiating a day for exchange and agreement on the completion date, what fixtures and contents are to be included in the sale (and for how much money), and whether the purchase price is to be reduced as a result of any defects uncovered by the survey or searches.
6. Exchange contracts
On the day of exchange, the seller's Conveyancer and the buyer's Conveyancer will each have obtained their respective client's express authority to exchange for an agreed completion date and usually exchange takes place by phone using an agreed Law Society Formula which contains undertakings by both parties' Conveyancers. They will check that each party has signed an identical contract, and agree the completion date and amount of deposit being paid.
If not already done, the seller's Conveyancer will find out how much the seller owes on their mortgage, which is known as a redemption figure (if applicable). They will then calculate any apportionments that may be appropriate or retentions that need to be made, such asservice charge payments, and prepare a Completion Statement showing the net sale proceeds.
They will also:
- check the Transfer Deed which will be prepared by the buyer's Conveyancer and arrange for this to be signed by the seller
- prepare for completion
- prepare any undertakings that must be given to the buyer's Conveyancer on completion
- answer Requisitions on Title.
7. Manage the day of completion
On the day of completion, the seller's Conveyancer will receive the completion money and on receipt handle the logistics involved in releasing the keys to the buyer. They will discharge any existing mortgages and any other financial charges or obligations that the Seller has to pay and send the Transfer Deed and Title Deeds to the buyer's Conveyancer with any required undertakings. The seller's Conveyancer will also pay any other liabilities, such as the estate agent's fee.
8. Transfer the money to the seller and post completion
Finally, the seller's Conveyancer can transfer the outstanding balance to the seller. However if there was a mortgage to repay or undertakings given, their job is not yet done until they have dealt with all of these matters and been released from their undertaking by the buyer's Conveyancer.
If you choose not to instruct a Conveyancer when selling a property, you must complete all the above yourself. This will take a lot of time and could be costly if you get anything wrong.