One of the most surprising aspects of a property transaction, particularly to first-time buyers and sellers, can be just how many different parties are involved. This can cause a lot of confusion over roles and responsibilities. In fact, research suggests that over half of first-time buyers find the process confusing, highlighting the scale of the problem.
This guide to buying and selling your home will break down each of the key players in the chain, explaining what their role is and how they fit into the process of transferring a property.
Property transaction chain
The role of the conveyancer is one of the most confusing aspects of the buying and selling process. ‘Conveyancing’ is a term used to describe the transfer of a legal title to a property. The role of a conveyancer is to advise the buyer or seller on all aspects of this process. Your conveyancer will be involved at all stages of the process and will be in contact with a range of other parties in the chain.
An example of your conveyancer’s essential work is arranging searches when buying a property. However, according to research, two-thirds of first-time buyers mistakenly believe that this is done by the surveyor or estate agent.
Carrying out searches is a crucial part of gathering information about the property. It can highlight a range of issues, including any local planning applications or contamination of the surrounding land, both of which could affect the property value.
Your conveyancer will also raise or answer enquiries by liaising with the other party’s conveyancer, and ultimately issue the client with a ‘report on title’. This report is one of the most important documents drafted by your conveyancer, as it will contain a record of all relevant findings gathered throughout the searches and enquiries.
Exchange and completion are often the most stressful stages of the process, so conveyancers play a key role in guiding buyers and sellers throughout this. You should instruct your conveyancer as soon as possible, as they have a vital role to play. This will help to reduce delay and provide you with the guidance you need to complete the sale with confidence.
The basic role of an estate agent is to market a property and secure a sale price. However, similar to conveyancers, estate agents have many responsibilities throughout the transaction. Their role goes far beyond an offer being accepted. Estate agents should be on hand to ensure that the transaction progresses, and to assist with any issues as they arise.
Estate agents typically work first with the seller to provide a valuation and then market the property. This could include arranging viewings and answering any queries potential buyers may have. Estate agents can act as a point of contact for both the seller and the buyer, and are expected to manage the negotiations between the parties. Once the offer has been accepted, the estate agent will then provide the instructed conveyancers with the ‘memorandum of sale’. This will provide each conveyancer with the details of the other party.
Estate agents are involved all the way to completion, at which point they will arrange for keys to be collected.
While not involved in every transaction, mortgage brokers often help buyers to find the most suitable mortgage. By considering the borrower’s finances and long-term needs, a broker will be able to identify appropriate mortgage options and introduce the borrower to the lender. A mortgage broker may also be involved in the transaction process by forwarding the borrower’s documentation to the lender.
Employing the services of a broker can have several advantages: it can help to reduce delay throughout the application process and provide a borrower with helpful advice. Some brokers even have exclusive deals with lenders, which may not otherwise be available.
While some borrowers choose to use a broker, it is also possible to approach the mortgage lender directly. Mortgages are a form of loan used to buy property. The lender’s interest is protected by means of a charge over the property, which will remain in place until the mortgage has been paid off. This means that if you do not keep up with your repayments, your lender can repossess and sell your property.
An important aspect of conveyancing is that if you are buying a property with a mortgage, your conveyancer will also represent your lender. This reinforces the importance of a conveyancer carrying out thorough searches and enquiries, as they must also ensure that the lender has a good and marketable title – should the lender be required to repossess and sell.
A useful tip is to ensure that your conveyancer is an approved member of your lender’s panel. If your conveyancer is not on your lender’s panel, your lender will need to instruct separate representation – which could result in additional fees.
Once the borrower has received their mortgage offer and the terms have been explained by the conveyancer on the mortgage report, the conveyancer will ask the borrower to sign the mortgage deed. Upon completion, the conveyancer will forward the mortgage advance to the seller’s solicitor and register the lender’s charge on the title.
One of the core principles of purchasing a property is caveat emptor, meaning ‘buyer beware’. This means that the responsibility lies with the buyer to investigate any physical defects in the property. As such, having a survey commissioned has many benefits. Not only does it help to ensure that the property is safe to occupy, but it can also give the buyer confidence that they are paying the correct amount for the property. For example, if the survey reveals that money needs to be spent on repairs, the buyer would have grounds to renegotiate the purchase price or ask that the seller makes the repairs.
A survey is carried out by a surveyor, whose role is to inspect the property and produce a survey report. The survey report will highlight any structural issues and contain recommendations for fixing them. The survey is generally carried out once an offer has been accepted. Each type of survey has varying levels of detail. As a buyer, it is important to consider the age and value of the property – amongst other factors – when deciding which survey to go for.
Property transactions are multifaceted and require input from a range of parties. This can often be unhelpful for those who are not familiar with the process, resulting in confusion and anxiety. By developing a basic understanding of the key players involved, buyers know which roles each party carries out and what they can expect – allowing them to negotiate this complex area with greater confidence.
How Optimal Solicitors can help
At Optimal Solicitors, we provide you with a professional, dedicated conveyancer to assist and guide you with your house sale or purchase. We have a number of highly experienced conveyancers to help with the transaction. Our team will work hard to make sure that your property experience is an easy-going, straightforward one.
For a quotation, or further advice on the conveyancing process when buying, selling, or remortgaging a property, please contact our conveyancing team on 0161 250 7771 or get in touch via our online contact form.