Catie Spink of the Thompson Smith and Puxon (TSP) Residential Property team discusses how a conveyancing transaction works and why it is not possible to move house at the weekend!

The Law of Property Act 1989 states that for a property to be sold there must be an agreement or contract in writing and this must be signed by both the buyer and the seller. This contract sets out various standard terms, the price to be paid for the property and the day on which the keys will be handed over.

However, before a property transaction can reach this stage the buyer’s solicitor / conveyancer needs to see evidence that the seller owns the property – they do this by checking the property’s title deeds.  The solicitor / conveyancer will also need to check whether the seller has a mortgage against the property and if necessary make provision for this to be repaid.

Once it has been established that the title deeds and searches are satisfactory the buyer’s solicitor / conveyancer will ask the buyer to transfer the purchase money into their account. Before your solicitor / conveyancer can accept these funds they will need to see proof of your identity and also to be satisfied as to the source of the funds (in order to comply with their obligations under anti-money laundering legislation).

Exchange of Contracts is then the key point in the legal transaction and the formal process of “exchange” takes place over the telephone between the two solicitors / conveyancers involved in the transaction. This is a prescribed process set out by the Law Society and has to take place for the parties involved to be legally bound by the signed contracts. At this point a date is fixed for completion (“your moving day”).

On “your moving day” the buyer’s solicitor / conveyancer sends the purchase monies to the seller’s solicitor / conveyancer by bank transfer. Legal completion takes place when the seller’s solicitor / conveyancer receives the money and the keys can then be released to the buyer. Your move can commence!

However for the monies to be sent and received staff at both your solicitor’s / conveyancer’s office and the bank must be in their respective offices, which at the weekend and on bank holidays they are not. This, I’m afraid, is why a completion date cannot be scheduled for these times!

TSP’s comprehensive “Guide to Moving” contains all the information you need to know about how the conveyancing process works. It is available in both hard copy and as a PDF. If you would like a hard copy of this guide, or to find out more about the tailored Residential Property service that Catie can provide, then please do contact Catie on 01255 242252 or