Knowing exactly what's involved in the conveyancing process will help clarify it and outline the tasks your solicitor will undertake. 

Our comprehensive guide will explain the whole process step by step throughout the 6 conveyancing stages, taking the legal jargon apart to make sure everything is explained simply and effectively. 

To that aspect, we have also put together a flowchart infographic detailing it for the buyer and the seller. 

We also answer any other questions you may have below. 

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is a legal process. It involves the legal and administrative work carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer whenever property or land changes ownership.

There are different stages of conveyancing, but the end goal is transferring legal ownership of the land or property - known as the title - from one person to another. The new ownership will then be registered with the Land Registry.

Conveyancing process flowchart for buyers and sellers

The following flowchart will help you understand the conveyancing stages better when it comes to buying or selling a property.

What are the different conveyancing stages when selling or buying?

It consists of 6 different steps from instructing a solicitor to completion. Let us explain each one of them in more detail for the buyer and the seller.

Step 1: instruct a solicitor

The 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: seller and buyer details, draft contract and searches

The seller provides their solicitor with extensive property details, such as title deeds and mortgage status documents. Meanwhile, buyers, along with their solicitor, provide personal and purchase related details.

Once both solicitors of both parties gather the required information and confirm a buyer's financial capability, drafting of the sale contract begins; outlining terms like parties' details, property description, price conditions and settlement date.

Concurrently, the buyer's solicitor initiates local searches. These essential searches check planning permissions, environmental risks and utility connections. Optional searches, though, are at the buyer's discretion and may incur extra charges. 

Similarly, the buyer may opt for an independent RICS survey (e.g., Homebuyer Report or Building Survey) to assess the property's condition and detect structural issues. 

These searches and surveys provide invaluable insights that help the buyer to make informed decisions, ensuring transparency and minimising potential risks during the process.

Step 3: issuing and reviewing the contract of sale

Upon completion of the draft contract of sale, the seller's solicitor issues it to the buyer's solicitor for review and approval.

The seller's solicitor ensures that all relevant details pertaining to the property and the sale are accurately reflected in the contract.

It also includes any additional documentation required to complete the transaction, such as title deeds and lease information.

Once they receive the draft contract of sale from the seller's solicitor, buyer's solicitors thoroughly assess its terms and conditions to ensure it meets their client's interests and expectations.

Throughout this process, the seller's solicitor remains in close communication with the buyer's solicitor to address any queries or concerns promptly.

Step 4: raising and responding to enquiries

For the buyer

The buyer's solicitor raises all the pertinent enquiries with the seller's solicitor in order to gather additional information about the property and allay any concerns or uncertainties about it. Enquiries typically cover topics like legal title, boundaries, planning permissions and any ongoing disputes or issues regarding it.

On receiving responses from the seller's solicitor, the buyer's solicitor reviews and evaluates them before providing advice to their client on any key issues that require further negotiation or attention to then go back to the seller's solicitor.

This collaborative process of raising and responding to enquiries helps buyers make informed decisions while also maintaining transparency and clarity throughout a property transaction.

For the seller

Once contacted by the buyer's solicitor, the seller's solicitor responds to enquiries and provides comprehensive information about the property while addressing any queries or concerns raised to the best of their knowledge.

By responding in an efficient and thorough manner to enquiries, the seller's solicitor helps facilitate an efficient process leading to successful property sales.

Step 5: exchange agreement

Once all enquiries have been satisfactorily addressed and both parties are ready to move forward with the transaction, the buyer's solicitor arranges an exchange of contracts; this involves exchanging signed copies of the contract of sale between buyer and seller. 

The buyer's solicitor ensures all necessary details are in order, such as agreed purchase price, deposit amount and settlement date. Once they receive the signed contract from the seller, the buyer should sign their copy and return it back to their solicitors for signature. 

Contract exchange is a key step, legally tying both parties together for their transaction. At this point, buyers typically pay their deposit which will remain held until completion day arrives. 

Once contracts are exchanged, both parties are legally committed to fulfilling the sale, with failure leading to financial penalties or legal action. 

Step 6: completion

The completion step in conveyancing represents the final transfer of legal ownership from seller to buyer.

The buyer's solicitor will request that the lender release the mortgage funds, and the money (including your deposit) will be transferred to the seller's solicitor on completion day. 

The seller's solicitor will pay off any outstanding mortgage and confirm that the sale is complete, transferring the balance to the seller. The seller must hand over the keys to the property and move out. The buyer will receive the keys and move in.

What happens post-completion?

Post-completion, there are still a couple of legal steps to take to finalise the process.

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 buyer's solicitor will submit the application to the Land Registry so that the new owner will be registered and new title deeds reflecting the new owner will be issued.

The conveyancing process timeline

On average the process takes around 8 to 12 weeks. It begins when you make or accept an offer on a property and instruct a solicitor; it continues up to completion day. 

Conveyancing stepsAverage time duration
Seller and buyer details, draft contract and searches1 week
Issuing and reviewing the contract of sale1 week
Raising and responding to enquiries2-4 weeks
Exchange agreement1-2 weeks
Total time from accepted offer to completion8-12 weeks

For more details, you can also check our guide on how long does conveyancing take.

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 a 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.

Let's break down this part 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 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 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.

How much are conveyancing fees?

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 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 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, 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: 

  • GazumpingIn 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.

Do you need help for your conveyancing needs?

If you're looking to buy or sell a property, get in touch with the team today!

You can always give us a ring on 0800 022 3785 or request a callback.  

We are available 6 days a week and we'll be happy to speak to you to discuss your specific requirements.

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.

Updated 10th of April 2024.

Your Fixed Legal Fee** quote from Homeward Legal ensures that you pay no more than we have quoted you for and is based on the information you’ve provided to us being true and accurate.

There are specific circumstances on a minority of transactions that may require additional charges that could not be foreseen at the outset.

A list of those charges and explanations can be found here with details of the potential cost. These will only be charged following discussion with your conveyancer with a clear explanation of what they are for.

No Completion No Fee is our promise that in the unfortunate event that your property transaction falls-through you will not be liable for any of the conveyancer’s fixed legal fees for the work completed.

To secure this benefit a fee, already included in your quote, is taken upon on deciding to go ahead with your transaction.

Should your transaction fall through, for whatever reason, we can hold this amount on account for your next transaction or provide a refund.

Disbursements* are costs or expenses that may be incurred as part of your conveyancing transaction which are paid to a third party by your conveyancer, on your behalf.

They will vary depending on your requirements and can include Land Registry fees and banking charges. We've quoted for Disbursements based on the information you've provided, and they will be charged with no additional fees or surcharges.

Occasionally additional disbursements are required to progress a transaction and will only be charged following a discussion with your conveyancer.

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