happy couple using conveyancing services online on a laptop with their new house in the background

Conveyancing is a term often heard when discussing buying or selling property, yet few know its definition in full.

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explain what conveyancing is, the steps involved in the process, how long it typically takes, and the costs associated with it.

What does conveyancing mean?

Conveyancing is a legal process.

It involves the legal and administrative work carried out whenever property or land changes ownership.

You will need to hire a solicitor or conveyancer to complete the conveyancing process when you are buying or selling a home.

This is to ensure that legal ownership passes from one party to another.

What are the steps in the conveyancing process?

Instructing a conveyancer or solicitor immediately after accepting an offer initiates the legal process. 

The process begins with preparing legal documents like the contract of sale.

Searches are conducted to ensure the property has no legal issues.

Then follows the exchange agreement where both parties legally agree and sign the contract of sale. 

Completion is the last step of the process.

The legal title of the property is transferred to the buyer and the payment is made to the seller.

Find out more about the conveyancing process

How long does conveyancing take?

On average the conveyancing process takes around 8 to 12 weeks. When it comes to selling a house it can take a bit longer.

Some factors can delay the conveyancing process, for example when a chain is involved or when the property is a leasehold.

Read more on how long does conveyancing take.

How much does conveyancing cost?

The cost of conveyancing varies a lot and is mostly depending on whether you are buying, selling, or both at the same time. The price could range from £500 to £2000.

Other factors will also influence the fees such as the need for surveys or searches. The property could also be a freehold or a leasehold.

Learn more about conveyancing fees.

Frequently asked questions...

Conveyancing should not be attempted solo as it can be an extremely time-consuming and complex process. Most mortgage lenders require you to use a solicitor or conveyancer if taking out a loan for the property you plan on buying.

There are two main differences between a solicitor and a conveyancer. 

The first is their legal expertise. 

A solicitor is likely to have a greater knowledge of property law in its widest sense. But a licensed conveyancer only specialises in the paperwork, contracts and finances if you're buying or selling a home.

The second difference is who regulates them. 

For a solicitor, it should be the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA). For a licensed conveyancer, it'll be the Council of Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). 

The important thing to remember is that, despite their differences, you can trust solicitors or licensed conveyancers to take care of legal matters if you're moving home.

Learn more about the differences between solicitors and licensed conveyancers.

Conveyancing searches are a common bundle of queries carried out for the buyer, with respect to the specific property they are purchasing. The most common (and mandatory for taking out a mortgage) searches are Local Authority, Drainage and Water, Chancel Liability and Environmental, although circumstances may dictate that further searches (e.g. Brine, or Coal or Tin-Mining) may be required, particularly if you are financing the purchase with a mortgage. In these circumstances, your conveyancing solicitor will advise and discuss the need to order these additional searches, as well as providing the cost of these disbursements.

Buyers should be aware that searches cover solely legal-related matters. If you want to know about the structural integrity of the property, you are strongly advised to commission a survey with an RCIS chartered surveyor.

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