Any newcomer to the property market will find the idea of house conveyancing a daunting one: the legal jargon used in this process has the tendency to intimidate us mere laymen. But behind the fancy, formal terms conveyancing is actually quite simple, and in all honesty, in most cases very straightforward. In order to get to grips with what it all means it's important to know your enemy and find out what a conveyancing solicitor does in the property market.
What is conveyancing?
It seems like a silly question, but unless you've bought or sold a property before (or studied law) it is quite possible that you've never come across the term house conveyancing before. Conveyancing is the legal transference of the ownership of property from one person to another: the actual buying and selling bit. Although legal by nature a lot of what a conveyancer does is administration.
Why do we need house conveyancing?
Although a straight-forward process conveyancing is extremely important: after all if not done right the sale of a property would not be legally binding. Conveyancing solicitors are there to protect both the buyer and the seller to make sure the terms are fair and that the information presented to their clients about the property is accurate.
Is house conveyancing a relatively new phenomenon?
We don't often think of the property market existing as it does today in centuries gone-by but in actuality conveyancing is a thing of both the past and the present. Since the early nineteenth-century solicitors have been involved in the buying and selling of houses. In fact at that time conveyancing solicitors had a monopoly on the market because no one else was legally allowed to do the job.
Do solicitors still have a monopoly on conveyancing for the property market?
Not technically. In 1985 the government passed a law allowing licensed conveyancers to practice alongside solicitors. In spite of this, there are less than 1000 licensed conveyancers working in England and Wales today. This could lead to the worry that solicitors would capitalise on their monopoly position in the property industry by charging higher prices; luckily though the Internet has allowed a lot more competition and price-transparency so that the power is back with the customer.
Are there other ways that the Internet has changed conveyancy?
As well as offering a host of information about conveyancers that is quick and easy to compare, the Internet has enabled transactions to take place completely using post, email and the phone. Because most of the work that the solicitor does is fairly standardized and the local authority searches that need to be carried out can be done from anywhere this is a cost-effective way of finding the cheapest solution to your conveyancing needs.
Has the Internet sped up the time it takes to complete conveyancing?
Certainly the Internet has provided a means to compare conveyancing quotes quick and easily within minutes. Therefore the time it takes to shop for your desired conveyancing solicitor is greatly reduced. Unfortunately though the other processes involved in house conveyancing have not yet capitalised on the speed that technology can offer. Forwarding contracts, documents and conducting local authority searches means that the process takes on average between 8 and 12 weeks.
Conveyancing is a long process, but it doesn't have to be a painful one. Choosing an experienced solicitor can ensure that the stages of conveyancing are smoothly carried out. Whilst your carefully chosen, competent conveyancer carries out the nitty-gritty legal side of buying and selling your home, you can be free to sit back, relax and day-dream of your move in date!