By the time you contact a solicitor to request a quote for carrying out your conveyancing, you would have already been on an emotional journey.

The whole process of buying a property starts long before you instruct a solicitor. From deciding that you are ready to move, to finding the right property and having an offer accepted could take many months. You will already be emotionally invested in the property that you would like to buy and the moving process can be made all the more fraught if you are moving due to ill health, financial difficulties, the breakdown of a family or relocating. You may have already mentally moved into the property that you have found and may have started to think about whether your furniture will fit and, if so, where it will go.

When you first contact your solicitor it will be helpful to let them know why you are looking to move. The communication between a solicitor and their client is very much key to making sure that the whole process goes as smoothly as possible. The service that you will get from your solicitor should be tailor made for you and your circumstances should be taken into account. For example, if you are moving due to ill health your solicitor will be able to tailor their means of communication according to your day to day routine. If you function better in the mornings, rather than the afternoons, then you could arrange with your solicitor to only contact you during the morning so that they do not disturb your rest.

You may prefer to receive letters or emails by way of update so that you can read and re-read the advice and information given. This may be preferable to receiving a telephone call in which the information could quickly be forgotten when you try to relay it to your family or friends who are assisting with your move.

If you are moving because you need to downsize in order to pay off a mortgage or debts then time is of the essence. The sooner the transaction completes the sooner your financial position is resolved. Don’t forget that your solicitor is a person first and foremost and a lawyer second. They will be able to fully appreciate your position and when dealing with a property transaction they will be able to offer not just their legal knowledge and experience but may also be able to guide you on your conveyancing journey and help navigate you through any issues that arise. Sometimes just chatting through your worries with your solicitor will alleviate any concerns that you have. Of course, your solicitor will not be able to make any guarantees as to timescale but will be able to update you as to progress along the way.

What some clients fail to realise is that each conveyancing transaction is different and everyone involved in the chain has their own agenda. If you are involved in a chain then you need to appreciate that the buyer at the bottom (whether they are first time buyers or investors) will have their own ideas as to timescale. The investor may have money tied up and would like the transaction to take a few weeks longer than the rest of the chain. The first time buyer, whilst keen to move into their first home, may not appreciate the time that it takes to obtain a mortgage or draw down monies or deal with the legal aspects of obtaining a gift from the bank of “mum & dad”. All of these things can lead to a protracted transaction. The property at the top of the chain may be being sold by Executors and the application for the Grant of Probate may not have been submitted at the time the offer is made. You could potentially be stuck in the middle of the chain and not know of the consequences of the other parties and their transactions. Also, don’t forget that not every person in the transaction starts the process at the same time. The buyers at the beginning of the chain could have commenced their conveyancing transaction a couple of months or so before the end of the chain has accepted an offer and, that being so, this has to be taken into consideration with regard to timescale.

As experienced property lawyers, we appreciate how stressful the whole process can be and that is why communication is important. We deal with this stressful situation all day every day and there are not many scenarios that we have not come across and therefore communication early is always advisable.

You may worry that you haven’t got your title deeds. Your solicitor will be able to carry out a quick check on the Land Registry website which will tell us if the title to your property is registered or not. If it is registered, this means that the title has been “dematerialised” and is now held electronically at the Land Registry. Any paper deeds and documents that you may hold could be of historic interest and should be handed to your solicitor. If the title to your property is unregistered this means that the property has not changed hands for many years. You may be selling a family member’s property following their death. The title deeds to their property may not be registered and will consist of a bundle of title deeds which will be proof of ownership. The whole of England and Wales became subject to compulsory registration in 1990 but it was estimated in 2019 by HM Land Registry that 14% of land and properties in England and Wales remained unregistered.

When you start to prepare your property for marketing, you should also start to collect together any documents which may be required during the selling process. This could be anything from guarantees for windows or boilers or building regulation completion certificates for an extension or loft conversion. The more information that you can get together to hand to your solicitor in the first instance will assist with the initial steps.

This article was prepared by Debbie Hamzij, a Partner in the Property department at WBW’s Sidmouth office. If you would like to contact her to discuss anything mentioned in this article or for any property related query, please call her on 01395 572905 or email debbiehamzij@wbw.co.uk.

WBW has offices in TorquayPaigntonNewton AbbotExeterBovey Tracey,  Exmouth,  Honiton,  Sidmouth,  Launceston,  AxminsterChard and Seaton.

This article is for general information only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. Please note that the law may have changed since this article was published.