Anyone over the age of 18 who is not related to you can be a witness. The witness must not be involved in your conveyancing matter so for example if you are buying a property the seller could not witness your signature. The witness must be there when you sign the document and they will then have to sign the document and put their personal details including name, address and occupation. We will confirm which documents need a witness when sending them to you.
The documents you will need to sign will depend on whether you are buying or selling. In all cases you will need to sign a contract which will set out the terms agreed for the sale or purchase and a Transfer document which is the document that will transfer ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer on completion. We will ensure that you receive all the documents you need to sign as your case progresses and will we explain what each document is and any legal information you need to know before signing.
You need to sign the contracts in advance of exchange of contracts. We usually try and send you this early on in the process so that there are no delays waiting for paperwork when everyone is ready to go ahead. Even though you have signed the contract this does not mean that there is a legal agreement with your buyer or seller. We would hold the signed contract at our offices until everyone is ready to agree a completion date and the formal exchange of contracts is done by us on your behalf.
You may hear Solicitors/Conveyancers and Estate Agents refer to the term “contract pack”. Basically, this is a complete set of documents that is prepared by the seller’s solicitors. The pack would usually include the contract, a copy of the title deeds, general information about the property and a list of fittings and contents showing what the seller is leaving in the property. The contract pack will be checked by the Buyers Solicitors and you will receive full details of everything in it before you sign the contracts.
The title deeds to most properties in England Wales are registered at H M Land Registry. The Land Registry hold a digital copy of the title deeds which means you do not usually need original documents to buy or sell a property. The Title deeds will describe the property and have a plan showing the area of land owned. It will also include details of anything that might restrict the use of the property or if you have a right over someone else’s land such as a right of way. We will ensure you receive a full legal summary of the title deeds if you are buying a property so that you know everything you need to about the property before going ahead.
Some Land and property is not yet registered at the Land Registry. This is usually because the house has not been bought or sold for many years. In these cases, then the actual paper documents would need to be available and the property would be registered with the Land Registry after completion takes place. This is referred to as unregistered land or property.