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The Conveyancing Process

21 March

Storage firms can play a vital role in the conveyancing process – both from the seller’s and the buyer’s point of view.  However, the conveyancing process is not always plain sailing. There are various challenges along the way, with consequential stalls in the timeframe from the start of the house sale to the very end.

This article addresses these matters in a bid to describe the role of removal and storage firms in the conveyancing process and to explain why that process can be so lengthy.

How does it all work when a house is being sold?
Once the parties have agreed to sell and buy a house, solicitors are instructed.  The sellers provide an Energy Performance Certificate and their solicitors get the title deeds and prepare a contract package to send to the buyer’s solicitors.  The buyer’s solicitors’ task is more complicated, as it has to juggle liaising with the seller’s solicitors on the contract package and also the buyer’s mortgage company.  The buyer may also be aided in their purchase by the government backed “Help to Buy”, scheme so a third set of lawyers may be involved.

The purchase of a property is totally reliant on third parties such as the estate agent, surveyors, search providers, the Land Registry, solicitors and also possibly a number of other people involved in other sales if this purchase is part of a chain.
Solicitors tend to get blamed for the delays in the housing transaction but it isn’t always their fault.  When a buyer’s solicitors investigate the title to the property many issues can arise, such as:

  • The title may be defective
  • The search results may not be clear
  • If a commercial property, planning permission may be required for change of use
  • The survey may identify problems
  • The property may require a full renovation

A buyer and his lender need to be provided with satisfactory solutions to these issues before contracts may be exchanged.  Once contracts have been exchanged the buyer and seller are legally bound to buy and sell respectively.
If the transaction is part of a chain, the buyer and seller need to be happy with what is going on further down the chain before they can exchange their own contracts.  If, for example, the buyer is also selling their own house and this falls through, they are usually no longer free to purchase a new one and therefore won’t proceed to exchange.  Likewise, with the seller.

Some house sales will then go on to “complete” the contract for sale on the same day as contracts are “exchanged”.  Others will have a gap between exchange and completion.  For removal and storage companies, the key time is when the contract “completes,”  as this is the time when the seller moves out and the buyer moves in (or at least takes possession).

Whether there is a gap between exchange and completion or not, both the seller’s and the buyer’s solicitors have a number of things they need to do before completion can take place.  These include, amongst other things:  ensuring there are sufficient monies to pay off any mortgages; carrying out searches; obtaining indemnity insurance policies and preparing completion statements.


The day of completion: what is going on behind the scenes?
This is probably the day that most removal and storage companies are used to seeing and deserves a section in its own right in this article.  Many cups of tea are drunk and a fair bit of stress can be felt as well.  It is probably the day which impacts your business the most. Many people often wonder “what are the solicitors doing that takes so long?”
The seller’s solicitors are waiting for the money to arrive from the buyer’s, which can take anywhere from 20 minutes up to 4 hours.  It is usually busier on a Friday as most people want to move prior to a weekend.  If there is a long chain and one solicitor delays getting the money into the banking system, this can delay everyone else.

Once the purchase money has been received, the seller’s solicitors will then pay off the mortgage. The contract is then complete and keys can be released.

If this transaction is part of a chain, everyone needs to wait until monies are received by the solicitors in the chain at the correct time on each sale and purchase.  If the chain is long, it can take until 5.00pm for the last person in the chain to get access. To make matters worse, the banks also have their own early cut-off points for transferring money.

Where do removal and storage companies fit into the process?
Completion is the key time for removal and storage companies.  Completion delays can be stressful and inconvenient if the van was booked for an early morning slot and completion takes place in the afternoon, meaning everyone often ends up working well into the night.

Removal and storage companies can provide valuable customer service by
helping clients to get organised well in advance of completion by helping customers to plan and by suggesting:

  • Packing services
  • Clearance services
  • Storage services

It is worth remembering that whilst removal and storage companies may be contacted early on in the process, to arrange moving dates, until contracts have been exchanged there is no certainty that the proposed date given will be the actual date that completion takes place. Therefore flexibility leading up to completion is important.

Flexibility on the day is also always gratefully received.  If that is not possible, then it is worth suggesting a timetable to help keep on track.  Packaging services assist very busy people and helps them focus on getting organised.

Clearance is valuable to sellers who may be selling a property due to the owner dying.  Storage facilities are great for sellers who are moving into rented accommodation before buying another house, or for people who are down-sizing but have not yet had a chance to “de-clutter”.

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