Stages and timings of the conveyancing process
To better understand why the process can be time-consuming you’ll need to understand the steps involved.
You’re in the pre-contract stage as soon as you submit your offer.
From this point onwards, provided everything runs smoothly, you’re likely to complete in 12-24 weeks, as per the national average.
Time: Approximately two weeks
To cut down the time it takes for you to be accepted by a lender, make sure you get a mortgage Agreement in Principle (AIP) before you start seriously house hunting. With your AIP in place, it takes less time to receive a concrete mortgage offer from a lender, typically a few weeks.
Even if you have an offer AIP, you won’t get your full mortgage offer immediately: your lender needs to carry out their own valuation of the property and will require further paperwork from you before putting the offer together.
Time: Approximately between two-six weeks
How long does conveyancing take after the mortgage offer?
Once your mortgage has been approved, the conveyancing process can take as little as 2 weeks. However, this time will also depend on the results from searches, surveys and enquiries sent by your solicitor, as you cannot exchange contracts without all of these being complete.
As well as getting the mortgage offer in place, your conveyancer will deal with the draft contract. To do so they’ll need information from a range of parties including the land registry, the seller and their conveyancer. You can expect it to take a week or so for the contracts to be issued to your conveyancer lawyer, and a further couple of weeks for the sellers’ conveyancer to answer all the questions your conveyancer will raise.
Searches and surveys
You also need to arrange your searches and surveys in the pre-contract stage. Whichever level of survey you’re getting on the house itself, you need to check the property’s condition as well as the local and property searches your conveyancer will carry out.
How long do conveyancing searches take?
As issues can arise from your searches and surveys, this stage can take anywhere between two and 10 weeks. Potential setbacks can arise if the seller is unable to grant immediate access for a survey, or if the local authority has a long lead time on the provision of local search results.
Once all enquiries have been resolved and the search results and mortgage offer have been checked, you’re ready to exchange contracts. If you’re buying, then you’ll transfer your deposit at this point.
Exchanging contracts and completion
Your conveyancer will exchange contracts with the other party’s solicitor, which legally binds you to completing the transaction. This also allows you to set a completion date – which could be anything from a few days to several weeks away.
During this stage, your conveyancer will finalise the completion documents and carry out further searches on things like the Land Registry and bankruptcy. If everything’s in order, each side’s conveyancer can prepare financial statements relating to the transfer of funds between buyer and seller.
Time: Usually two weeks
On completion day the conveyancers will organise the transfer of all funds between parties. The seller will usually need to have vacated the property by lunchtime, with the buyer able to pick up the keys to their new home by 2pm.
After you’ve completed, your conveyancer will continue to work for you even though you’ve already moved in or out. From sending signed completion documents to registering your purchase and mortgage with the Land Registry, tying up all the loose ends can take even longer than the pre-completion stages.
If everything goes relatively smoothly, you could end up with a timeframe of around 16 weeks from offer to completion. Whether you’re buying or selling, being prompt with things like returning your paperwork, organising surveys and replying to correspondence will help to speed up the process.
You may still encounter unforeseen delays, for example complications with the sale of a leasehold property, if another link in your chain experiences problems, or if a seller takes a long time to respond to pre-contract enquiries. As long as you’re prepared and punctual with what you can control you can help minimise delays.