Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring a property from the old owner to the new owner. Here, we explain everything you need to know about conveyancing.
You've found your dream home, had your offer accepted, and you’ve applied for a mortgage. The next step in your home buying journey is to start the conveyancing process.
Conveyancing covers a wide range of legal stuff required when transferring a property’s ownership from the seller to the buyer.
Thankfully, you aren’t expected to do this work yourself. You’ll work with a licensed conveyancer or solicitor, and they’ll take care of everything.
Once the conveyancing process is finished and you’re happy with the details of the property purchase, you’ll exchange and complete to be the legal owner of your new home.
Here, we explain everything you need to know about conveyancing, from the definition and costs to the key players and stages.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is the process of transferring the ownership of the property you’re purchasing from the seller to you. It makes sure that the process is perfectly legal and above board.
The conveyancing process is handled by a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer (more on them below). Here’s some of the stuff they do:
- They check that the property has all the right certificates for things like energy performance and building regulations approval.
- They check the Land Registry to see what land and buildings are included in the sale.
- They create contracts to transfer ownership of the home from the seller to the buyer.
- They transfer money to the seller’s solicitor once the contracts are signed.
How much does conveyancing cost?
In the UK, you can expect to pay somewhere between £1,000 and £1,500 in conveyancing fees.
The exact amount of conveyancing fees you’ll pay will vary based on:
- The property location
- How much it’s on the market for
- Whether it’s freehold or leasehold
- The conveyancer you choose
Conveyancing is one of the more expensive parts of the home buying process, but it’s essential. Lenders will want to see proof that you’re working with a licensed conveyancer before they offer you a mortgage.
When do you pay for conveyancing?
Conveyancers usually ask you to pay a portion of their fee up-front and the rest the day before completing on your purchase.
Your conveyancer or solicitor should let you know their rates before you start working with them.
Do you need to pay for a conveyancer?
For most homebuyers, yes. Conveyancers will handle all of the legal aspects of the process. They’ll also break down the legal jargon to help you understand exactly what stage of the process you’re at.
Technically, you can go through the property purchase process without a conveyancer, but it’s not recommended. Most lenders won’t approve a mortgage if you’re not using a conveyancer.
Conveyancer vs Solicitor: Is there a difference?
You can use either a licensed conveyancer or a solicitor for your conveyancing.
As the name suggests, conveyancers are trained solely on conveyancing. Solicitors who also do conveyancing are trained in different areas of law, but specialise in property law.
Whichever one you choose, there won’t be any practical differences in the service you get.
What are the stages of conveyancing?
Once the wheels are in motion, the conveyancing process is relatively simple.
You won’t need to do any hard work because your conveyancer will handle everything on your behalf. Naturally, every conveyancing process is slightly different because no two properties are alike.
Here’s a snapshot of what the process can look like:
Step one: Choosing your conveyancer
First, you’ll need to find a conveyancer. It’s usually best to work with one in the same area as the property you’re buying as they’ll be familiar with local regulations.
Once you choose a conveyancer, you’ll need to pay part of their fee upfront and sign a contract with them. When that’s done, they’ll get to work.
Step two: Property searches
Next, your conveyancer will order various searches for you. These searches are related to the property you want to buy and the surrounding area and usually include:
- Local authority searches relating to planning or roads.
- Drainage searches relating to water supply and sewage.
- Environmental searches relating to flooding, landslides or contamination.
Your conveyancer will send you any information they find for you to review. If they uncover problems with the property or land, they’ll explain what that means and the next steps.
Step three: Exchanging contracts
Finally, the bit you’ve been waiting for - exchanging contracts.
Your conveyancer will work with the seller's conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor to thrash out the paperwork and make your new home purchase official.
Once you and the seller exchange signed contracts, both parties are legally bound to buy or sell the property.
Step four: Completion
Completion can happen a few weeks after you’ve exchanged contracts, or it can happen on the same day. At this point, your conveyancer or solicitor will:
- Draw down the funds from your mortgage, which means they’ll get the money from your lender and transfer it to the seller’s solicitor.
- Check that you’ve paid any remaining fees related to the sale.
When that’s all done and dusted, you can pick up the keys to your new home and move in!
How long does the conveyancing process take?
In general, conveyancing can take around 8 to 12 weeks, but there’s no set length of time for conveyancing. It will largely depend on the property you’re buying and the seller’s situation.
The process can move a bit quicker if your mortgage in principle is ready and if the seller has all of the documents your solicitors will ask them for.
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