Dealing with an estate when someone dies


Buying or selling your home is a stressful business! We’re there to help make it as simple and pain free as possible. We set out below the main stages in a conveyancing transaction. Buying is, of course, the reverse side of selling so, when you read this, you need to consider whether you are the seller or the buyer. You may be both!

How long does it all take? This depends on how long the conveyancing ‘chain’ is. If your sale or purchase is dependent on a number of other transactions then you only move as quickly as the slowest party. On average it should take between 2-3 months from start to finish.

Everyone has to go through the following steps:

1. The selling agent provides details of the sale to the seller’s and buyer’s solicitor.

2. The seller’s solicitor will send the Contract for sale, Property Information and Fittings and Contents forms, documents of title and any other relevant information to the buyer’s solicitor.

3. The buyer’s solicitor will consider the documentation provided by the seller’s solicitor and raises any necessary enquiries upon it. He will also carry out any searches which may be required. Commonly, this would be a Local Authority, Drainage and Water search, Environmental search and Chancel Check searches.

4. If the buyer is having a mortgage to purchase the property, once the terms of the mortgage offer have been agreed and any survey has been carried out, mortgage instructions will be sent by the mortgage lender to the buyer’s solicitor.

5. Once the buyer’s solicitor has had the opportunity to:

    • 5.1 consider the legal title.
    • 5.2 raise enquiries and receive satisfactory replies
    • 5.3 receive the results of all necessary searches
    • 5.4 receive mortgage instructions
    5.5 reported to the client on the property and answered all of the client’s enquiries

The buyer’s solicitor will then be in a position to exchange contracts. He will arrange for the buyer to sign the contract and place him in funds for a deposit. This will normally be 5% or 10% of the purchase price.

6. If the buyer has a related sale or if the seller has a related purchase, then similar steps will have been undertaken on these conveyancing transactions. Often, there may be three or four properties in a conveyancing chain – there may be more!

Where a purchase is dependent on a sale or vice versa, no transaction can proceed until all of the necessary transactions have reached the stage where an exchange of contracts can take place.

7. Once all parties are ready, the exchange of contracts will take place. This does not require the presence of either the seller or the buyer and is carried out by a series of telephone calls between the seller’s and buyer’s solicitors. Once this has been completed, a binding contract will exist under which the seller is legally obliged to sell the property and the buyer to purchase it. On exchange of contracts, a completion date will be agreed. This is the date upon which the seller vacates the property and delivers possession to the buyer.

8. Once contracts have been exchanged, the buyer’s solicitor will then report to his client and mortgage lender and seek the remaining 90% or 95% of the purchase price in order to complete the transaction.

9. The buyer’s solicitor will also need to prepare the Transfer which is the document which transfers legal ownership in the property to the buyer and raise further enquiries with the seller’s solicitor seeking confirmation that any mortgage on the property will be discharged on completion and also agreeing the amount that will need paying over on completion.

10. On the completion date, the buyer’s solicitor will send the outstanding balance required to complete the purchase to the seller’s solicitor. Once these funds have been received, the seller’s solicitor will authorise the estate agent or the seller to release keys to the buyer. This is normally achieved by late morning or lunchtime.

11. As banks only guarantee that funds will be in our account by close of business, it is extremely important that all funds necessary to complete your purchase have been received no later than 24 hours before completion.

12. After completion, the buyer’s solicitor will pay to the Inland Revenue any stamp duty that may be due on the purchase and will then proceed to register the buyer’s legal title to the property with the Land Registry.

13. Once the title has been registered, the Land Registry will produce Official Copy Entries showing the buyer as the owner of the property. It is only once registration has been completed that the buyer is the legal owner.

If you have any questions or queries or would like any further information on any of the above points, please don’t hesitate to ask us!