Confused about the complicated buying or selling process? Our comprehensive guide will help you understand what’s at the heart of every move – conveyancing. We’re here to break down the different stages and help you stay in control throughout your transaction.
In this guide we explain:
- What is conveyancing?
- Who needs conveyancing
- Who can do the conveyancing?
- How to choose a conveyancer
- How long does conveyancing take?
- How much does conveyancing cost?
- Guide to the conveyancing process
What is conveyancing?
Strictly speaking, conveyancing is the legal transfer of property ownership from one person to another. In practice, conveyancing includes all the processes and paperwork that ensure a sale or purchase is conducted properly.
Why do I need a conveyancer?
Who can do the conveyancing?
There are a few options when it comes to who carries out the conveyancing:
• Conveyancer: a property lawyer who specialises in property sales. Conveyancers are regulated by the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)
• Solicitor: conveyancing solicitor’s are also qualified to act for conveyancing. They are regulated by Solicitors Regulators Authority (SRA), although some specialise in the area, others are generalists. Using a solicitor can work out to be more expensive than hiring a specialist conveyancer.
Find out more about the differences between using a local solicitor or a specialist conveyancer.
JARGON BUSTER Conveyancing solicitor
A conveyancer is a lawyer but not necessarily a solicitor – while a solicitor can be a conveyancing lawyer – confused? What matters is that both conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors (or conveyance solicitors) are trained, qualified and insured. All conveyancers are specialists in residential property while only some solicitors are.
Can I do my own conveyancing?
DIY conveyancing is possible if you’re a cash buyer, but it can be complicated as well as time consuming. You’ll need to spend a lot of time doing research, understanding the legal jargon and completing the paperwork. Plus, it might not save you as much money as you expect, as you’ll still have to cover expenses including searches, Land Registry fees and Stamp Duty Land Tax.
Find out more in our DIY conveyancing guide
How to choose a conveyancer
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing a conveyancer. Doing your research and checking customer reviews online is a good idea to help you find the right option. When doing your research, it’s worth asking some key questions:
- What’s included in the price – and what costs may be extra?
- Will I be charged if the sale or purchase falls through?
- Will I have a personal conveyancer or solicitor?
- Can I make contact and find information outside of office hours?
- How can I keep track of the process?
Why Choose Us
Tailored to you
We’ll find out what’s important to you and what’s unique about your move, so we can match you with the conveyancing firm within our group that best suits your needs.
Trusted by our customers
The Simplify family are all rated Excellent on TrustPilot, so rest assured you’ll only ever receive the best service.
Your time matters to us
Using the right combination of tech and people, at the right points in your journey, helps to fast track the process and keep you in control.
How long does conveyancing take?
Whether you’re buying or selling a property, the industry average for conveyancing is 16-20 weeks. In some cases, the transaction could take less time if there are cash buyers and no chain. On the other hand, it can take months to complete a sale if problems emerge that need investigating and resolving.
Your solicitor is there to ensure things move as quickly as possible and will set a target date at the start of the process. They should also let you know what’s happening at every stage – there’s nothing worse than being left in the dark when you’re excited about a move.
How much does conveyancing cost?
The cost depends on your transaction (purchase or sale) and includes fees for conducting the legal work, registering with the Land Registry, Stamp Duty Land Tax and any searches. See a breakdown of the standard conveyancing fees you can expect to pay, or get an conveyancing quote online now.
Step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process
Whether you’re buying or selling a property, the conveyancing process begins once you’ve made or accepted an offer.
The conveyancing process for selling a property
Step 1: Instructing a conveyancer
Once you’ve done your research and chosen a conveyancer, fill in the necessary forms and provide your ID and proof of residence as soon as possible to avoid any delays. This is also a good time to complete a fixtures, fittings and contents form. Meanwhile, your conveyancer will be clarifying the situation regarding mortgages to ensure lenders are in the loop.
JARGON BUSTER Memorandum Of Sale
Think of a Memorandum of Sale as a fact pack for those organising the transaction. It will contain the address, agreed price, and details of the buyer, seller and conveyancer or conveyance solicitors. There may also be details about anticipated completion dates and what fixtures and fittings will be included, depending on what was agreed as part of the deal between seller and buyer.
Step 2: Drafting the contract pack
Your conveyancer will put together a draft contract pack including the contract, your property’s information and the Land Registry documents. They’ll then send it to the buyer’s solicitor to inspect.
Step 3: Sending the legal report
Once both conveyancers are happy, they’ll send out a legal report, which includes all the legal information about the property and a first draft of the contract. They’ll also send a document called the transfer (TR1 form), which shows that both sides have agreed to the sale – it literally transfers ownership. Your conveyancer will then organise for you to sign the paperwork.
Step 4: Exchanging contracts
Once you’ve set the completion date,it’s time to legally agree the terms and sale date by exchanging contracts. This is a key moment as 10% of the sale price could be payable if completion doesn’t happen. Your conveyancer will double check everything is in order before this step is taken.
Step 5: Completing the sale
On the day of completion, the buyer’s solicitors will transfer the money to yours to complete the purchase. Your conveyancer will then use the money to pay off any outstanding balances and then transfer legal ownership.
The conveyancing process for buying a property
Step 1: Instructing a conveyancer
Once you’ve instructed a conveyancer, they’ll guide you through the house-buying process. First up will be to complete all the forms they’ve sent and provide your ID and proof of residence.
Step 2: Conducting property searches
Your conveyancer will arrange multiple property searches that will look for different issues with the property and the area around it, that may impact your purchase. If they spot potential problems, they’ll share their concerns with you and raise any enquires with the seller’s solicitor.
During this stage you’ll also need to organise a survey. A valuation survey is needed if buying with a mortgage, these are booked through your mortgage provider. You may also want a homebuyer’s report, for this you will need to book an expert surveyor to inspect your property’s structure.
Step 3: Inspecting the contract pack
Your conveyancer will inspect the contract pack including the contract, seller’s property information and Land Registry documents. If they find any issues, they’ll contact you immediately to discuss.
Step 4: Sending the contract and legal report
Once both sets of conveyancers are happy, they’ll send a legal report, which includes all the legal information about the property and a first draft of the contract. They’ll also send a document called the transfer (TR1 form), which shows that both sides have agreed to the sale – it literally transfers ownership. Your conveyancer will then organise for you to sign the paperwork.
Step 5: Conveyancing for your mortgage
Your conveyancer will work with your mortgage provider to make sure they’re happy with all the details of your offer. They’ll then send you a mortgage deed to sign.
Step 6: Transferring your deposit
To secure the property and avoid any delays, you’ll need to transfer the deposit into your conveyancer’s account at this stage, so it’s cleared in time for the exchange.
JARGON BUSTER Deposit
Deposit can mean two things to house movers. It commonly means the difference between the mortgage amount and the house price. It’s the cash you have to pay on top of whatever you are borrowing. However, in the legal language of conveyancing, it means the amount that a buyer pays in advance and could lose if the sale does not happen because they pull out. It’s nearly always 10% of the total price. The two meanings are completely different so be careful not to confuse them.
Step 7: Exchange of contracts
Once the seller and buyer’s conveyancers have set a date, it’s time to legally agree the terms and sale date by exchanging contracts. This is a key moment as 10% of the sale price could be payable if completion doesn’t happen. Your conveyancer will double check everything is in order before you move to this step.
Step 8: Completion
On completion, your conveyancer will transfer the rest of the money to the seller’s lawyer. Once everything is in place, they’ll inform the estate agents. You can then pick up the keys to your new home!
FAQs: What else do I need to know about conveyancing?
Auction conveyancing: What’s different?
If you put in the winning bid at a property auction, you’ re contractually obliged to buy. The auction house will provide a legal pack, but it makes sense to have a conveyancer review all the information and carry out extra checks.
Conveyancing for buy-to-let: What help do I need?
When buying a property to let it’s vital that you have the right sort of mortgage. You may also need a licence from your Local Authority. Your conveyancer can advise on that, plus any additional issues that can arise with buy-to-let.
Vacant possession: What does it mean?
Buying or selling a property with vacant possession simply means it must be empty on the day of completion. Speak to your conveyancer if you’re worried that the tenants may not move out, as there are additional safeguards they can insist on. It’s also possible to buy or sell with tenants remaining in the property – your conveyancer will be able to help with this too.
Leasehold and freehold: What’s the difference?
When you buy a property freehold you own the building and the land it’s on, whereas when you buy the leasehold you own the property for a set number of years detailed in the lease. Owning a leasehold property with a share of the freehold is possible, particularly if you have a flat.
First-time buyer: What’s different for me?
Things are simpler if you’re a first-time buyer as you don’t need to worry about selling at the same time. There may be government led help to buy schemes and incentives to help you get on the property ladder such as Help to Build and Lifetime ISAs.
Remortgaging: Do I need a conveyancer?
You’ll almost certainly need a conveyancer if you are remortgaging and moving to a new lender. If you’re sticking with the same lender and changing deals, there shouldn’t be additional legal work.
Conveyancing jargon buster
Still confused by the difference between searches and surveys, conveyancing solicitors and conveyancers? Check out our plain English guide to the specialist language involved in moving