What Is Conveyancing?

Posted on February 27, 2011 @ 7:48 am

Conveyancing is something that the majority of us will find ourselves involved in at some point in our lives, but what is it? Simply put, conveyancing is the operation of transferring legal possession of real estate property from one individual to another.

Why The Conveyancing Process Is So Complex

An issue often raised is, how come I could purchase a luxury car or a piece of jewellery, that may cost just as much if not more than a house, without needing a solicitor or even having to sign anything, but I can’t do the same with a house? The answer is that land is considered much more important than any other possession and as such a whole body of law developed to deal with land ownership and the conveyancing process.

Unlike a car or a piece of jewellery, the land you own can affect other people. Even though you may own it, other may have rights in it or over it (such as a right of way or a tenant’s right to occupy under the terms of a lease etc.) It can generate income both for the land owner and for those who have rights in it. Due to the importance of land there have been many laws made to protect people’s interests and many disputes resolved in the courts. This is not the case when buying other possessions and as such there are many more issues to consider and investigate when buy a piece of land. The conveyancing process is designed to make sure a buyer knows exactly what they are buying and what interests affecting the land are enforceable and in need of protection.

Do You Need Special Qualifications In Order To Offer Conveyancing Services?

Only a qualified solicitor, licenced conveyancer or barrister is allowed by law to provide conveyancing services in return for money. If a person who is not qualified carries activities such as drafting a contract or transfer deed or making an application for registration (these are known as “reserved legal activities”) for a reward then under the Legal Services Act 2007 they are committing an offence, one punishable with a hefty fine (and even a conviction and term of imprisonment).

Can I Do My Own Conveyancing?

There is nothing illegal about DIY conveyancing so technically the answer is yes, though there are some obstacles. First, if purchasing property with the help of a mortgage your lender will insist that a property lawyer is appointed to act for them at your expense. Conveyancing fees can easily spiral under these circumstances.

There are no set fee scales for conveyancing and as such the lenders solicitor can charge whatever they like. It is unlikely to be a prohibitive amount however, you have no control and if you’d appointed your own solicitor to carry out your conveyancing they would have acted for the lender as well at no extra cost. In effect, there is no financial gain for you when attempting DIY conveyancing on a property when a mortgage is involved.

Secondly, although conveyancing is mostly an administrative task, knowledge of the relevant law is required and necessary in order to identify any potential problems with the title of the property. The importance of this is not to be underestimated as title issues can cause horrific problems later down the line. Any problems that do exist may not be immediately apparent and may not not come to light until the owner comes to sell the property on. A final point to mention is that a professional conveyancer will hold Professional Indemnity Insurance, that means that is a mistake is made you have protection and recourse to compensation. If you make a mistake you have no protection whatsoever.

What Is The Average Time-frame For Conveyancing?

There is no simple answer to this question since no two conveyancing transactions are alike. Several factors have to be considered when putting a time-frame to the conveyancing process such as how complex the transaction is, if there is a chain, what position the other elements are in relative to your own and of course the efficiency of your conveyancing solicitor! As a rough guide however, a simple freehold transaction should take six to eight weeks and a little longer for a leashold transaction (around eight to twelve weeks).

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