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    What is Involved in Conveyancing?

    If you’re moving home, you may not have heard the term conveyancing before. Conveyancing is simply the legal process of transferring ownership of a property. Here’s what you need to know.

    What is Involved in Conveyancing?

    What is conveyancing?

    Conveyancing is the legal transfer of property from one owner to another. Simply put, it ensures that when you buy a property, you are getting exactly what you’ve paid for.

    Conveyancers, or property solicitors, act on behalf of their clients to carry out the whole process. This can range from providing forms of ID to receiving the title deeds to the property.

    Conveyancing ensures that you legally own the home you’re purchasing.
     

    Who can do conveyancing?

    There are two types of professionals who can handle conveyancing:

    • a Conveyancing Solicitor
    • a Licensed Conveyancer

    What is the difference between a solicitor and a conveyancer? 

    The difference here is simply that a conveyancing solicitor is qualified in all areas of law. They just choose to focus on property.

    A licensed conveyancer is only qualified in property and so specialises in that. Both can complete your conveyancing with no problem. You can find out more about the differences between a licensed conveyancer and a conveyancing solicitor.

    Can I do my own conveyancing?

    Some people want to do their conveyancing themselves. DIY conveyancing is possible, but we would recommend caution. You'll want security when completing one of the biggest legal transactions of your life.

    Your conveyancers are professionals with lots of experience. And beyond that, they know who to talk to when they need to prompt mortgage brokers, surveyors, or estate agents. Those relationships, as well as the know-how of the process, are worth investing in.

    What is the conveyancing process?

    There are a huge number of tasks your conveyancer will be responsible for. It’s natural to want to chase them to know the status of your move, but often they’ll be waiting on information too. This information could be from the HM Land Registry, or the mortgage provider.

    Many conveyancers now offer an app where you can track the conveyancing process without needing to chase for updates.
     

    • Your conveyancer will request the appropriate paperwork from you. This will include proof of identification, bank details and information about the property.

    • They will liaise with the seller’s solicitor to receive a contract pack.

    • They will work with your mortgage advisor or bank to get a copy of your mortgage offer.

    • They will carry out the necessary Local Authority searches in relation to the property. These are requested from the Local Authority. These searches will uncover information such as any issues with the land the property is built on, whether it’s near to a chemical plant, or if there’s upcoming building work in the area.
       

    Your conveyancing solicitor will analyse this information to assess whether anything will impact the value of your property. In some cases, you may decide to get extra insurance against certain things discovered in the searches. Your conveyancer will be able to advise on this.
     

    • Your solicitor will arrange potential completion dates with both parties, so you’re all working to the same goal.

    • When your contract is signed, they will swap signed contracts with the seller’s conveyancer. You will send your deposit to your conveyancer, and they will transfer it on to the seller’s conveyancer.

    • They will prepare a completion statement and transfer deeds for you to complete, and then transfer these to the seller’s conveyancer.

    • When that’s done, they can request the mortgage payment from your lender. After this, they can transfer the balance of the purchase to the seller’s conveyancer.

    • After the completion of the sale, your conveyancer will submit a tax return. They'll then pay the required Stamp Duty (or LTT/LBTT in Wales and Scotland) to HM Revenue & Customs. They will forward the documents showing transfer of ownership to the Land Registry, so they can update their details. And then they will finally forward the title deeds to your mortgage lender.
       

    A large part of the conveyancing process is invisible to the buyer or seller. It involves background interactions between the Land Registry, Local Authorities, mortgage lenders, and seller’s conveyancing team to make sure everything is above board and accurate.

    How do I make sure my conveyancing goes smoothly?

    Getting confused with conveyancing jargon is easy, but what your conveyancing is working towards is 'exchange'. This is the exchange of contracts between buyer and seller, where you become legally committed to buying the property. You will sign your documents, your seller will sign theirs, you’ll each give them to your conveyancers, who will swap them. This is when you’ll pay your deposit.

    In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, up until the exchange of contracts, either party can still back out. This can cause real problems if you’re caught in a property chain of people buying and selling from each other, all waiting for the first property in the chain to be sold.

    This is different in Scotland as they have a different conveyancing process.

    There’s also an opportunity that either buyer or seller will try to get a better deal last minute. This can happen if the buyer asks to drop the price, or the seller demands extra money. This is where you might have heard of terms like gazumping, when someone swoops in last minute and offers more money for a property you’re in the process of buying.

    Make sure to limit the chance of being gazumped by putting all your affairs in order prior to hiring a conveyancer. Such as making sure you have all proofs of ID, paperwork, and mortgage offers available.
    After exchange, you’re committed to the property. If you change your mind, you’ll have to forfeit your deposit.

    Once you’ve exchanged, you wait for ‘completion’, which is when the final transfers are made, and you can move in.

    How much does conveyancing cost?

    The cost of conveyancing depends on the value of the property you’re buying. Conveyancing fees can also be impacted by whether it’s freehold or leasehold, if you’re using any schemes like Help to Buy, or accessing a LISA. Some of these things require extra paperwork or work for your conveyancer, so can push the cost up.

    The average cost for conveyancing is £2,038, including fees and disbursements and £1,314 if you are a First Time Buyer.*

    Be sure to compare prices when looking at conveyancing solicitors, so you can make sure you get the best deal. You can also use our moving cost calculator to get a more detailed approximate cost.

    How to find a good conveyancing solicitor 

    When looking for a conveyancing solicitor, it's a good idea to look at reviews, check that they are regulated by the appropriate bodies (the Council for Licensed Conveyancers or Solicitors Regulation Authority) and that you can trust them to do a great job.

    The quickest way to do that is to get a conveyancing quote from us! It’s free, instant, and you can compare costs, check reviews, and feel confident that we only work with experts.

    Conveyancing can feel confusing if you’ve never been through the process before, but it doesn’t have to be. We can make it simple.

    Conveyancing FAQs

    Who pays for conveyancing?

    The buyer and seller are both responsible for paying for conveyancing work during a house sale and will both need to find a conveyancer.

    Do you have to pay your conveyancer if the sale falls through?

    You will need to pay your conveyancer if the sale falls through. The amount you will have to pay will depend on how far along the sale is.

    With a no sale, no fee agreement you will not have to pay the legal costs if the sale falls through. However, you may still have to pay for additional costs such as disbursements, searches, and any surveys or valuations.

    How long does conveyancing take?

    The average time frame for conveyancing is 8-12 weeks. Factors such as the complexity of the property chain and survey results can have an impact on this time frame.

    What are the 3 main searches when buying a house?

    The three main conveyancing searches that you will need to have done are:

    • Local Authority Search

    • Water and Property Search

    • Environmental Search

    If you are purchasing with a mortgage, these are the searches that lenders will require you to have done.

     

    *Based on data collected February 2024
    Updated April 2024

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