What does the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer do?

  • Obtain the client’s formal instruction and verify their identity
  • Check the details and terms of the contract bundle when received from the seller’s solicitor making sure that the details match the buyer’s expectations of the transaction. The contract bundle includes the draft contract, official copies of Land Registry Title documents, lease (if applicable), management information pack (if applicable), the seller’s property information and fixtures forms, building regulation documents, and any other documents that may be relevant and taking appropriate action based on their findings
  • Check the boundaries of the property, access and any restrictions
  • Undertake searches, assessing the results and raising additional enquiries if necessary. Searches are checks of: the Local Authority planning department for future plans or preservation orders affecting the property; the surrounding environment to check for contamination; church repair (chancel) liability; the water and drainage connections and any location specific searches such as a coal mining search
  • Assess the results of any survey report and advise their client accordingly
  • Raise enquiries / questions on any aspect of the property or transaction that need clarification such as requesting correct building regulations or planning permission documentation for extensions, or other works
  • Act for the buyer’s mortgage lender making sure all their financial and administrative requirements are fulfilled
  • Write reports based on the information received both for the buyer and their mortgage lender
  • Liaise with all parties
  • Manage the transfer of monies
  • Negotiate exchange and completion dates
  • Manage the payment of the Land registry fees and stamp duty
  • Register the new buyer with the Land Registry
  • Undertake post exchange searches to ensure the property is clear of any legal charge
  • Any other legal work that may be required as part of the transaction (such as a Declaration of Trust)

Types of conveyancing searches

There are two types of conveyancing searches that will be undertaken for the buyer. The first is personal searches, where all the required information is in the public domain. The second type is official searches, which need to be carried out by somebody within the council. Personal searches are the most common, but some mortgage lenders may require official searches for certain properties.

There are several searches that can be carried out – some of which, such as brine searches, coal searches and clay and tin mining searches, are not relevant to all London properties. The following, however, may be required:

  • Local Authority Search: This search will highlight whether or not:
    • adjoining roads and footpaths require upkeep
    • there are planned changes for nearby roads
    • the property is near or on contaminated land
    • the property is in a conservation area
    • there are any tree preservation orders on the property
    • there is a compulsory purchase order for the property
    • there are any enforcement notifications that have been served for breaches in planning permission
    • there are any debts associated with the property, such as ongoing Green Deal payments
  • Water and drainage search: This explains how the water drainage system works and who is responsible for its upkeep
  • Environmental search: This will highlight any previous uses of the property, and whether or not the land has been contaminated
  • Flood risk search: This search will assess if the property is at risk of flood risk
  • Chancel repair liability search: This will establish whether the owner of the property is obliged to make contributions towards the upkeep of the local church

These searches will take place pre completion:

  • Land Registry priority search: This looks into the latest documentation held on the property at The Land Registry Office
  • Bankruptcy search: This ascertains whether or not an individual has been declared bankrupt, which may reduce their ability to borrow money from a mortgage lender