Conveyancing process explained
What is conveyancing? It's the legal process of buying a home. We explain everything you need to know about the conveyancing process when buying AND the conveyancing steps.
Conveyancing is the legal transfer of home ownership from the seller to you, the buyer. The conveyancing process starts when your offer on a house is accepted and finishes when you receive the keys.
A solicitor or conveyancer usually conducts the conveyancing process.
Before anything can happen, you need to find the right solicitor or conveyancer and “instruct them” to oversee the conveyancing process. Your estate agent will send them a memorandum of sale with the details they require to get started.
Once you’ve appointed a conveyancer, they will draw up a draft contract or terms of engagement with you, setting out their charges and deposits required.
Your solicitor will write to your seller’s solicitor to confirm they are instructed and request a copy of the draft contract and any other details, such as the property’s title and the standard forms.
One of the first parts of the conveyancing process involves your solicitor examining the draft contract and supporting documents and raising enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. You will be expected to go through the forms the seller has completed and let the solicitor know if you have any queries or concerns.
In particular, you will want to double-check the tenure of your new home: is it leasehold or freehold?
There are things you may not know about the property just from viewing it with estate agents or even getting a survey. As part of the conveyancing process, a conveyancing solicitor will do a set of legal property searches to ensure there are no other factors you should be aware of. Some searches will be recommended by the solicitor for all purchases and others will be required by the mortgage lender to protect them from any liabilities that the property may have. See our Local Searches Page for details on what searches may be carried out.
The cost of these searches are often charged as extras, so make sure you factor them in-to the conveyancing fees.
You will need to get your mortgage in place, which includes ensuring you have the financing available for a mortgage deposit. Your solicitor will receive a copy of the mortgage offer and go through the conditions.
You will need to get a mortgage valuation, which typically happens as part of the conveyancing process. This is carried out on behalf of the mortgage company so they know that the property you’re buying provides sufficient security for the loan. You normally have to pay for it, but some lenders include this as it helps them to attract business or they add it to the overall loan/mortgage for you.
You also want to have any other necessary surveys done. What sort of survey you have done will depend on your circumstances and the property.
Before exchange of contracts can take place your lender will require you to get buildings insurance for your new home. That’s because you are responsible for the property as soon as contracts have been exchanged, so it’s in your interest to protect yourself.
Since receiving the draft contract from the seller's solicitor at the start of the conveyancing process, your solicitor will have been in correspondence with you about what is covered. Before signing the contract your solicitor will want to know some details and will report these to you.
All enquiries raised have been returned and are satisfactory.
That fixtures and fittings included in the purchase are what you expected.
A completion date has been agreed between the two parties, which can be anything from a day to 4 weeks from exchange.
That you have made arrangements to transfer the deposit into your solicitors account so that it is cleared in time for an exchange. A Deposit is normally 10% of the value of the property.
You and the seller will agree on a date and time to exchange contracts at any time on any given day. Your solicitor will exchange contracts for you, which is usually done by both solicitors/conveyancers reading out the contracts over the phone (which is recorded) to make sure the contracts are identical, and then immediately sending them to one another in the post.
If you are in a chain (where a few people are reliant on sales to proceed with their purchases) your solicitor/conveyancer will do the same thing, but will only release it if the other people in the chain are all happy to go ahead. This means if one person pulls out or delays, then everyone in the chain gets held up.
Once you have exchanged contracts you will be in a legally binding contract to buy the property with a fixed date for moving. This means that:
If you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit and owe the seller more if the deposit was less than 10%.
The seller has to sell or you can sue them.
The seller can no longer accept another offer (you no longer need to worry about being gazumped).
One of the final steps in the conveyancing process involves your solicitor lodging an interest in the property, which will mean that the deeds to the property are frozen for 30 working days to allow you to pay the seller and lodge your application to the Land Registry to transfer the deeds into your name.
The seller will move out (although they may leave this to the day of completion).
You should get organised for your moving day.
The solicitor will send you a statement showing the final figure to pay, which will need to be cleared into your solicitor's bank account at least one day before completion.
Completion is normally set around midday on the specified date, although in practice takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money that is due. Once this happens the seller should drop the keys at the estate agents for your collection. This means that the conveyancing process is over, and you can move in.
Your solicitor will tie up some loose ends:
Pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf. To calculate how much stamp duty you will need to pay, try this free stamp duty calculator.
You will receive your legal documents about 20 days after completion after your solicitor has sent them to the Land Registry.
Send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender, who will hold them until you pay your loan off.
Notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold.
Give you a bill for their payment.
You will want to collect together all your paperwork from the purchase of your new home, including the estate agent’s brochure, to file away and keep safe for when you move again.
The conveyancing process starts when you make an offer on a property – or accept an offer on your home – and lasts until completion day when keys for the property are exchanged. The conveyancing process may be shorter if you are a cash buyer. The conveyancing process can take around 12-16 weeks but here at Wilkinson Grant, we work hard to Complete in 30 days by using our guides and plans.