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What is conveyancing?

Buying your first property can be an overwhelming experience without the help of an experienced property lawyer to guide you through the conveyancing process – but what exactly is conveyancing?

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of a property from one owner to another. The process involves a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer who acts on behalf of the buyer to ensure their client receives the title deeds to the property and the land it sits on. Conveyancing encapsulates the entirety of the legal and administrative work required to ensure a house purchase is valid under law.

Standard conveyancing practice  

Sooner or later you will hear your conveyancer or mortgage lender referring to “exchange of contracts”. The exchange of signed contracts between the buyer and the seller – carried our via each party’s conveyancer – is what legally commits both parties to the sale of the property. 

  • A house purchase is not legally binding until contracts are exchanged between the buyer and the seller – this gives freedom to both parties prior to the exchange of contracts. A deposit is required at the exchange of contracts.
  • In the phase prior to exchanging contracts either party can cancel the transaction, with no obligations to the other party. This can potentially increase the risk of gazumping if you are part of a lengthy moving chain.
  • Upon the exchange of contracts the buyer and seller are both legally committed to the purchase and the agreed terms of the sale. If you decide to pull out of the agreement at this stage you may automatically lose the deposit you paid upon exchange. 

What will your conveyancer do for you?  

Strictly speaking it is possible to deal with your own conveyancing. However, it is a detailed and somewhat complicated legal process, and we recommend that you always use a qualified and experienced property lawyer. Your conveyancer will:

  • Liaise with the seller’s solicitor to receive a contract pack

  • Request and obtain a copy of your mortgage offer

  • Carry out the necessary local authority searches in relation to the property

  • Analyse the results of the local authority searches

  • Arrange potential completion dates with both parties

  • Swap signed contracts with the seller’s own conveyancer

  • Transfer the deposit to the seller’s conveyancer

  • Prepare the completion statement and transfer deeds for you to complete

  • Transfer the signed transfer deeds to the seller’s conveyancer

  • Request payment of the mortgage advance from your lender

  • Transfer the balance of the purchase price (less the deposit already paid) to the seller’s conveyancer

  • Submit a tax return and pay the required Stamp Duty Land Tax to HM Revenue & Customs

  • Forward documentation regarding the transfer of ownership to the Land Registry

  • Forward the title deeds to your mortgage lender

While your conveyancer will do the majority of the legwork, you will also have responsibilities during the conveyancing process. Read our conveyancing checklist for buyers for more detailed guidance.

How to find a good conveyancing solicitor  

An experienced, thorough conveyancer is worth their weight in gold. With reallymoving you can compare up to four instant conveyancing quotes from our large network of professional conveyancers from top-quality legal firms who cover your area. Whether you choose a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer, you can be assured that every conveyancer in our network is regulated by either the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

Updated August 2020


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