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Many of us have been reassessing our living arrangements recently and thinking about moving home or buying a new place. Buying and selling is exciting but often stressful. That's why you need Homeward Legal's step-by-step guide to conveyancing protocol.

Knowing exactly what's involved in the conveyancing process will help clarify it and show you what your role is. It will also give you the opportunity to understand the essential work your conveyancing solicitor is carrying out.

Our comprehensive guide to conveyancing will explain the whole process from start to finish, taking the legal jargon apart to make sure everything is explained simply and effectively.

You can click on each heading to take you directly to the section you want to read.

What is conveyancing?

The first question most people who are selling or buying a property ask is what is conveyancing? And the answer is very simple.

Conveyancing is a legal process. It involves the legal and administrative work carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer whenever property or land is bought or sold in the UK.

There are different stages of conveyancing, but the end goal is transferring legal ownership of the land or property - known as the title - into the buyer's name. The new ownership will then be registered with the Land Registry.

What's the difference between a solicitor and conveyancer?

What's the difference between a solicitor and conveyancer? Let's start by explaining the precise role of each.

  • Conveyancing solicitor

A conveyancing solicitor is a legally qualified solicitor who deals with property transactions. They will be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority under the auspices of the Law Society.

  • Conveyancer

A licensed conveyancer is a legal professional who is specially trained in property law and is regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). The conveyancers we work with at Homeward Legal are all accredited by the Law Society's Conveyancing Quality Scheme.

Regardless of whether you choose a conveyancing solicitor or a licensed conveyancer, each will perform the conveyancing required to complete your property sale or purchase.


What are the different stages of conveyancing?

There are key moments in all property transactions. To help you understand what happens and when, we've explained the conveyancing process, taking you step-by-step through the conveyancing timeline.

Step 1 

The conveyancing process starts when an offer has been made and accepted on a property or land. For buyers, they're making an offer; for sellers, they're accepting an offer. 

Buyers should ideally instruct a conveyancing solicitor to act on their behalf as soon as they have seen a property they want to buy. Their solicitor will then negotiate on the sale price with the solicitor working for the seller. As soon as the offer has been accepted, the solicitors on both sides will begin the legal protocol, carrying out the relevant forms and precedents of conveyancing.

Step 2

If you are buying with a mortgage and already have an agreement in principle, pass that information on to your solicitor. They must also act on behalf of the lender. To make the process as smooth as possible, all the conveyancing solicitors on Homeward Legal's nationwide panel are also on the lenders' approved panel.

Step 3

The buyer's solicitor will start to instruct property searches. These searches are an important part of the conveyancing process flow chart as they allow the solicitor to build a complete picture of the property and the area around it. 

The searches are carried out by specialist firms who request the information from the local council, water, and sewerage companies. Some searches are optional, some are essential. As the optional searches may be charged as extras, the decision to go ahead with any of these lies with the buyer. 

Step 4

The searches process can take some time. While this stage is being carried out, another key step in the conveyancing process timeline can be undertaken: confirming with the Land Registry that the seller has the legal title. This means they are the rightful owner and entitled to sell the land or property.

Step 5

The seller's solicitor will then provide an inventory of what is included in the sale and draw up a draft contract of sale. Both can be the subject of some negotiation. For example, the seller may want to remove all carpets from the property, but the buyer wants them to stay.

Step 6

Once all searches have been returned and the draft contract and sale price agreed, the two solicitors will negotiate a completion date. This is the date on which the seller must move out and the buyer receives the keys to their new home. The completion date is often set for a Friday but must be agreed by both sides.

Step 7

The buyer must transfer their deposit to their solicitor who will then confirm to the seller that finance is in place.

Step 8

The next step in the conveyancing process is the exchange of contracts. This is usually done by telephone. Each solicitor will confirm their client is signing an identical document. Once contracts are exchanged, neither party can back out without suffering a financial penalty.

Step 9

The buyer's solicitor will then carry out final searches on the property, checking with the Land Registry that there have been no changes to the legal title since their first enquiry.

Step 10

The buyer's solicitor will request that the lender releases the mortgage funds, and the money (including your deposit) will be transferred to the seller's solicitor on completion day. The selling solicitor will pay off any outstanding mortgage and confirm that the sale is complete. The seller must hand over the keys to the property and move out. The buyer will then receive the keys.

Post-completion conveyancing protocol

After completion, there are still a couple of legal steps to take. The buyer's solicitor will pay any outstanding Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC on the buyer's behalf. This must be done within 14 days of completion. 

The new owner will be registered with the Land Registry and new title deeds reflecting the new title issued.

Whether you're the seller or the buyer, it's worth having a clear idea of these different stages of the conveyancing process. It can help you understand your solicitor's actions and allow you to make decisions about your sale or purchase. 


Now you know the conveyancing process, you'll need to know the role of the solicitor. This is because depending on whether you are buying or selling, the tasks the solicitor must carry out will be slightly different. 

We've already mentioned some of the tasks that the solicitors for each side of the sales process must carry out. However, to give you a clear idea of who does what, here's what your legal representative does during the conveyancing process, based on whether you're selling or buying. 

You're selling your property

If you're selling, your solicitor will:

  1. Draw up the sale contract and provide the buying side with details of what's included in the sale through the property information form and the fixtures and fittings form.
  2. Liaise with the buyer's solicitor to confirm the sale funds are in place and negotiate on the price and on the completion date.
  3. Agree on the exchange of contracts with the buyer's solicitor, confirming that you and the buyer are signing an identical document.

When the sale is complete and your solicitor's office has received the sale proceeds, your solicitor will pay off any outstanding mortgage, deduct their legal fees from what's left, and send the remainder to the seller. 

All of this is done electronically and within a matter of days. After this point, the conveyancing process is complete. 

You're buying the property 

Before kickstarting the conveyancing process, your solicitor will confirm your identification through photo ID and proof of address. Then they will:

  1. Ask to see a mortgage offer from the lender if you are buying with a mortgage. You must also produce evidence you have the deposit funds in place.
  2. Instruct a series of searches that will provide a raft of information about the property and the surrounding area. These searches are carried out by specialist companies and are often the subject of some delay depending on the local authority involved. It's the job of the solicitor to chase up the searches to ensure they get the information as quickly as possible.
  3. Advise you to have a building survey carried out. This will depend on the age and condition of the property.
  4. Negotiate on the sale price and what's to be included in the sale with the selling solicitor before agreeing on a completion date that suits both sides.
  5. Agree on the exchange of contracts with the seller's solicitor, confirming you and the seller are is signing an identical document.

On completion day, your solicitor will transfer the sale funds to the selling solicitor and arrange for collection of the keys. Post-completion, their job involves registering you as the new property owner with the Land Registry and paying any Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC on your behalf.

They will bill you for their services and for any outstanding fees and charges. This is a bill that is usually paid within 30 days.


What forms and documents do I need to be aware of?

As well as the conveyancing timeline, you'll also need to know about the forms and documents you need to complete and produce. They vary depending on whether you are a buyer or seller.

What both buyer and seller must do as soon as the process is underway is provide proof of their ID to their solicitor. This is always photo ID, usually a passport or driving licence, and confirmation of your address through a bank statement or utility bill from the last three months. Solicitors are obliged to confirm your ID to meet money laundering regulations.

What other documents do buyers and sellers need to provide? Let's break down this part of the conveyancing process for each side. 

You're the seller

Here's a look at what the seller needs to provide:

  • Title deeds

You are unlikely to hold your title deeds as these are now a digital record at the Land Registry. However, you may have a copy of the registered title from when you originally purchased the property. If so, you should hand this over to your solicitor to make the conveyancing process easier.

  • Copy of the lease

Where you are selling a leasehold property, give your solicitor a copy of the lease that details the terms of your legal relationship with the freeholder (landowner). Your solicitor will request a management information pack from the freeholder or management company that will detail all service and maintenance charges associated with the lease.

  • Property information form

Your solicitor will ask you to complete this form, which details practical information such as the location of gas and electricity meters, water stop cock, and the property boundaries.

  • Fittings and contents form

This form details everything that is and isn't included in the sale. For example, as the seller, you may decide to leave the white goods for inclusion in the sale. Complete this form and return it to your legal team as quickly as possible as any delay could derail the process.

  • Energy Performance Certificate

Every home that goes on the market in England and Wales must have an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This form details a building's energy efficiency and highlights where cost-effective energy savings can be made. Check if your property has a valid EPC here.

  • Warranties 

Where you are selling a home built within the last decade, you may have an up-to-date new home warranty. This is an insurance policy against any issues with the construction and can be passed on to the buyer. For example, the NHBC Buildmark warranty lasts 10 years. You should also provide copies of any warranties relating to renovation or electrical work, plus guarantees on the likes of windows or roof repairs.

You're the buyer

Here's a look at what the buyer needs to provide:

  • Mortgage offer

Where you need a mortgage to buy a property, you must have a valid offer from a lender. Your solicitor will need a copy of the mortgage offer before beginning the conveyancing process.

  • Proof of deposit

You must show your solicitor you have the deposit funds by producing an up-to-date bank statement.

  • Insurance

Once contracts have been exchanged on the property, your lender will instruct you to get buildings insurance on your new home. This cover must begin on completion day. Send your solicitor a copy of the insurance policy when you receive it.

  • Title report

Once your sale is complete, your solicitor should provide you with a copy of the title report. This will show you as the owner and will also include details from the property information form.

  • Warranties

If you have bought a newbuild property, or it was built within the last decade, you should receive a copy of any new home warranty, such as the NHBC Buildmark. 

Your solicitor should also send you any warranties that relate to renovation or electrical work that's been carried out, along with guarantees for things like replacement windows and roof repairs.


Finding a licensed conveyancer or solicitor to carry out the relevant conveyancing protocol is an easy task. At Homeward Legal, we work with a nationwide panel of top-quality law firms across England and Wales.

One call to our team on  can put you in touch with a conveyancing solicitor in a matter of minutes.

Online conveyancing offers instant convenience with no requirement to go into a solicitor office or deal with one nearby.


How much are conveyancing fees?

How much are conveyancing fees going to be? This is one of the main questions buyers and sellers will ask.

Conveyancing fees will vary depending on the value of the property involved and individual circumstances. 

However, we can look at the different stages of conveyancing and estimate how much these will cost by identifying what you will be expected to pay for. You can also check out our guide to the average costs of conveyancing.

Here's what's included in your conveyancing bill:

  • Solicitors' fees
  • Surveyor fees
  • Stamp Duty Land Tax (Land Transaction Tax in Wales)
  • Land Registry fees
  • Local authority searches
  • Other disbursements
  • Electronic bank transfer fee
  • Management pack for leasehold properties
  • VAT

Disbursements are fees and charges that your solicitor must pay as part of the conveyancing process. Some of these fees must be paid up front and your solicitor will request payment from you before going ahead. Others are added to the final bill.

Our fixed legal fee guarantee also means your costs won't change during the conveyancing process.*


What other costs are there?

As well as covering the cost of the conveyancing process, you'll find that there are additional costs in buying and selling property. Sellers using an estate agent will pay either a set fee or a fee as a percentage of the final sale cost, buyers may purchase a building survey, and both buyers and sellers are likely to have removal costs.

Additionally, there might be a gap between the date you must move out of your old home before getting the keys to your new place. In this instance, you may have to put your furniture and other possessions into storage, and both buyers and sellers may have to find temporary rental accommodation.

All of these are extra costs to factor in when you are budgeting for your home move.


How do I get a conveyancing quote?

You can get a conveyancing quote on the high street from any law firm that deals in property transactions. However, it's much quicker and often more cost-effective to look for conveyancing quotes online. And an instant quote from Homeward Legal can kickstart the conveyancing process in a matter of minutes.

Our team are available seven days a week on . Or you can get a conveyancing quote instantly online with our quote builder.

We work with a panel of specialist conveyancing solicitors who are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and licensed conveyancers accredited with the Conveyancing Quality Scheme awarded by the Law Society. Our panel covers all of England and Wales. All the law firms we work with must meet our rigorous standards in conveyancing, service and value for money.

You may not get the cheapest quote from Homeward Legal. However, we guarantee that our legal fee quotes are completely transparent on pricing with no hidden extras while our fixed-fee guarantee means your costs won't change during the conveyancing process.*


How long does the conveyancing process take?

As with conveyancing costs, pinning down exactly how long the full conveyancing timeline takes is a difficult task. A straightforward transaction, with no delays or broken chains on either side, can be completed in as little as six weeks.

However, more commonly, the different stages of the conveyancing process will take around 12 weeks to complete, from offer accepted to contracts being exchanged, this can vary depending on the length of the chain.

What can cause a delay? 

Here are some of the common instances that can slow up or delay a sale or purchase:

  • One side does not have a conveyancing solicitor in place at the start
  • Forms or documents are not returned in good time
  • Missing warranties or building control certificates
  • Hold up in property searches information, often caused by lack of staff at the local authority
  • No mortgage offer in place or hold-up in securing deposit
  • Slow return on building survey or mortgage valuation
  • Missing title deeds
  • One part of the chain pulling out

How do I speed up the conveyancing process?

So, can you speed up the conveyancing process? While there is little a buyer or seller can do if a chain collapses, you can keep on top of other elements to speed up conveyancing. Here's how: 

  • Make sure you return all forms and other information as soon as possible
  • Respond quickly to any requests from your solicitor
  • Get your mortgage and other finance in place early
  • Chase up the lender regularly to ensure there are no delays in releasing the funds
  • Keep in touch with the estate agent to iron out any kinks that might be appearing in a smooth chain

What pitfalls are there?

The road to buying or selling a property can be a rocky one with some unexpected blocks and detours along the way. As well as delays in the conveyancing process, there are other pitfalls that can happen in terms of conveyancing. These are the practices of gazumping, gazundering, and gazanging. Here's a look at what these, and other, pitfalls are: 

Gazumping

In short, gazumping is when a seller pulls out of a sale at the last minute because they've accepted a higher offer from another bidder. It's legal, if ethically unsound, because the deal is not secure until contracts are exchanged.

Gazundering

Conversely, gazundering is the practice of a buyer lowering their offer at the last minute, again before contracts are exchanged. This puts the seller in the awkward position of either accepting a lower offer or pulling out of the deal and starting to find a buyer all over again.

Gazanging 

Finally, gazanging is a practice that's become more common in the last decade. This is where a seller decides at the last minute not to sell their property at all and to stay put. Without contracts being exchanged, the buyer is left high and dry, probably out of pocket and without a home to move into.

The collapse of the chain

One of the biggest pitfalls in property buying is the collapse of a chain. Essentially a chain is where each sale depends on another being completed to go ahead. Where one sale falls through or a buyer or seller has a change of heart, the chain will collapse, leaving everyone frustrated.

Friday afternoon fraud

Possibly the scariest pitfall in home buying is a scam known as Friday afternoon fraud. This involves hackers accessing a solicitor's email account to intercept communications with a client and divert their purchase funds to a fraudulent account. It's called Friday afternoon fraud because so many property transactions are completed on that day.

Avoid falling victim to this scam by always checking in person or by telephone with your solicitor that all bank details are correct. Never transfer money to a different bank account. Always confirm directly that emails regarding a deposit or mortgage funds are genuine.


What are the conveyancing industry and trade bodies?

When it comes to conveyancing and conveyancing protocol, it's crucial to know the legal professionals you are trusting to work on your behalf are regulated.

The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the body that monitors solicitors' work and deals with complaints from the public in England and Wales. The SRA is the independent and regulatory arm of the Law Society, making and enforcing the rules that solicitors must follow. A solicitor must act in your best interests and protect you in case something goes wrong during the conveyancing process.

The Council for Licensed Conveyancers regulates licensed conveyancers in England and Wales, dealing with any issues raised by clients.

Ensure any legal professional you instruct is regulated by either of these authorities.

Where you have used an estate agent to sell your property and are unhappy with any aspect of their service, you can raise a complaint with the Property Ombudsman or the Property Redress Scheme.


*Fixed Legal Fee - Your quote from Homeward Legal will cover common conveyancing costs in line with the information you've provided to us. Depending on the specific circumstances of your transaction, and after discussion with your solicitor, there may be additional non-standard fees which would be in addition to the fee quoted by Homeward Legal.

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