FDC Law experts’ guide to the pre-contract stage of conveyancing

Conveyancing is a type of legal process whereby the ownership of property, either residential or commercial, is transferred between the seller and the buyer. According to solicitors from FDC Law, in England and Wales, there are both unregistered and registered systems of conveyancing.

With the unregistered system, it is the responsibility of the seller to show the person buying their property the necessary documentary evidence, which proves that they currently own the property. With the registered system, on the other hand, a register of the property is maintained by the government, and a land transfer then takes place when the Land Registry is notified of a change in ownership.

There are, FDC Law explains, three stages to a standard conveyancing transaction. These are the pre-contract stage, which tends to be the most time-consuming, as it involves the majority of the legal work, the pre-completion stage and the post-completion stage. Here, we take a closer look at the first stage. FDC Law

Firstly, the seller and the buyer need to instruct their solicitors to act on their behalf. Then the seller’s solicitor will be tasked with the preparation of the buyer’s pre-contact package, which will include documentary evidence which proves the seller holds the legal title to the property, and a draft of the contract. This package must then be checked by the buyer’s solicitor, and at this point they can raise any queries they may have.

Pre-contract searches will need to be carried out by the buyer’s solicitor, according to FDC Law. These searches are mostly with public bodies (such as for instance, the local authority), and will ensure that the buyer has all of the information they need about the property they intend to purchase. The buyer then confirms that they are able to proceed with the purchase financially – this normally consists of securing an offer of finance.

Once the amendments to the contract have been negotiated and the relevant checks completed, FDC Law says, the solicitor representing the buyer will return the contract draft to the seller, after which two copies of the legal document are printed, with the buyer signing one, and the seller signing the other.