What does a conveyancer do?
The Council for Licensed Conveyancers is regulated by the council for conveyancers across England and Wales.
The conveyancer will arrange for the exchange of contracts. This will make the transfer of ownership of the property legally binding. The conveyancer will also deal with registering the transfer of title with the Land Registry.
However, these important actions form only part of the conveyancer’s role in your residential property purchase. Your conveyancer will manage the process from start to finish and applying for a mortgage is only a fraction of the process. It's your conveyancer who deals with the transfer of money (deposit and mortgage advance) to secure the purchase.
As your legal representative, the conveyancer will review binding documents such as the mortgage lender's offer. They will then lend you legal advice.
They will also carry out a variety of “searches” on your behalf. Essentially, these involve making a number of enquiries to the local authority and other bodies. The conveyancer will obtain information about the property that may have an impact upon you as the new homeowner.
Typical searches include details of boundaries and disputes, rights of way and any planning constraints on the property. Depending on the nature of the property and the location, your conveyancer may also recommend other non-routine searches. These could include environmental searches which might reveal subsidence or flooding risks.
Searching for a conveyancer online
It’s not unusual for the estate agent to recommend or refer you to a conveyancer. But you should be aware that the estate agent is likely receiving a referral fee for passing on the business. Often, you will be able to save money by shopping around before making a final decision.
An Internet search for conveyancing services is often a good starting point. These days, most property lawyers will have an online presence.
Be sure to scrutinise quotes from online conveyancers carefully before signing up. It's not unusual for firms to attract customers with a cheaper headline rate, such as “£99 conveyancing”.
This is a misleading base rate and will not include the other fees and “disbursements” that form a part of the conveyancing process. Disbursements are third-party charges that the conveyancer will collect from you and pay on your behalf. For example, land registry charges and fees for searches.
Full online conveyancing
Online conveyancers often still operate a traditional business model, but many now offer a fully online case management system. This has the advantage of considerable transparency compared to more traditional conveyancing practices.
Typically you will be able to log into the conveyancer’s online system and view the case progress at any time. You'll have the opportunity to see which searches have been requested or received. As well as this, you can track the status of the mortgage application. Some online conveyancers also send automated text alerts when particular milestones in the conveyancing process are reached.
Whichever type of conveyancer you eventually choose to use, it’s important to compare service reviews alongside comparing prices. Look out for online reviews that will give you an insight into either great customer service or any issues people have previously encountered. You can also use our online comparison tool to save money by comparing instant quotes from four property solicitors, conveyancing solicitors, or licensed conveyancers.
Last reviewed November 2023.