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‘Conveyancing’ refers to the legal process of transferring ownership of a property or piece of land from the seller to the buyer. It can start anywhere between your offer being accepted to after the sale has been finalised.
Conveyancing can be carried out by either a conveyancer or solicitor. There are a few steps to the process:
Instructing a conveyancer or solicitor – You'll be asked for more information, as well as permission to begin the conveyancing process
Conveyancing searches – Your conveyancer or solicitor will arrange and undertake property searches
Exchange of contracts – When the contract details are agreed upon
Completion – When the legal titles are passed over to the buyer, and the seller leaves the property empty for the buyer to move in
Post-completion – Your conveyancer or solicitor will pay Stamp Duty Land Tax and register you with the Land Registry
Do bear in mind, though, that this is a fairly simplified view of things; there are many small tasks, checks and steps along the way.
Conveyancing can be carried out by either a conveyancer or solicitor.
Sometimes called a ‘conveyancing solicitor’, a solicitor will be registered with the Law Society. They’ll have wider scope over different areas of law, so will be able to offer a full range of legal services. They are qualified to deal with complex legal issues.
In comparison, a licensed conveyancer is a lawyer that specialises in the legalities of property and moving home. They're usually cheaper than a solicitor, but they can only deal with conveyancing and property law.
Whether you should get a conveyancer or solicitor depends on your situation. If you anticipate the process to be fairly straightforward, a conveyancer will be able to handle the buying and selling process. However, if it's a complex property, a solicitor can deal with any legal issues that may arise.
A conveyancer or solicitor will deal with all the legal tasks involved when transferring ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer.
Handle contracts and documents
Carry out local council searches and property searches
Deal with the Land Registry
Transfer the payment for the property
Carry out the exchange of contracts
Give legal advice
On average, conveyancing can take anywhere between 8 and 16 weeks, from the initial offer to completion.
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Whether you’re buying, selling, or remortgaging, you’ll need a conveyancer to oversee all the legal requirements and ensure everything progresses to completion.
We’ve partnered with Optimus to help you find the right conveyancer for your home sale, purchase, or re-mortgage. Optimus offers a panel of quality-controlled conveyancing firms.
No completion, no legal fee* guarantee
No hidden fees – all costs are included in the quote*
Peace of mind that each conveyancing firm has been through a stringent due-diligence process
Track progress of your case at any time, plus email alerts when key milestones are met
*except disbursements incurred on your behalf such as search fees, etc.
We’ve partnered with Optimus to help you find the right conveyancer for your home sale, purchase, or re-mortgage. You’ll have access to Optimus’ panel of quality-controlled conveyancing firms.
Just give Optimus a few details around your sale, purchase, or re-mortgage to get a conveyancing quote. With this information, they’ll give you an accurate fee instantly, instead of an estimate. That way, you won’t get caught out paying more than you thought.
Optimus offer a fixed-price guarantee on any conveyancing type you need, regardless of location or property type. There are no hidden fees.
Find out more today by calling Optimus Conveyancing Service team on 0330 0366801 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
'Conveyancing' refers to the legal process of transferring a property or piece of land from one owner to another. There are normally two steps to the process:
Exchange of contracts – when the contract details are agreed upon
Completion – when the legal titles are passed over
It can be done either by a general solicitor or a conveyancer. A conveyancer is a lawyer who has chosen to specialise in property law or the legal work surrounding conveyancing.
As mentioned, it’s usually the duty of a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer to handle the conveyancing process.
One of their main responsibilities is to manage contracts and agreements between the buyer and the seller. They will also be in charge of registering or updating the ownership of the house you’re buying (or selling).
What’s more, if applicable, they will arrange the payment of stamp duty and carry out local searches. This way, they will be able to understand whether there are any new projects and plans on the horizon for the area.
A draft contract is drawn up by the seller when an offer is made on a property. This contract must include various details. These can include price, boundaries, planning restrictions, and so on. This contract must also include a completion date for the transaction and an energy performance certificate.
Although the paperwork can be daunting, it's important to go through the contract extremely carefully and negotiate any terms if necessary. Your solicitor or conveyancer will be able to help you with this and offer sound guidance. A conveyancer will also conduct several searches and checks on the property.
You can apply for a mortgage before putting an offer in on a property. Based on the information you’ve given your mortgage lender (usually a bank), they’ll evaluate how much they are willing to lend you. This will provide you with an ‘offer in principle’ that outlines this figure.
That said, you'll have to have a survey done on the property you’re looking to buy before that becomes a formal mortgage offer. This is because the lender needs to know that the property you want to buy is worth what you are willing to pay.
A survey is also important for your own peace of mind, as you need to know that there aren’t any nasty surprises about the structural state of the building.
There are three types of survey:
Valuation survey: The most basic option, this is fine if you're remortgaging or buying a new build. It only provides an indication of the property's value, however, doesn't look at whether the building is structurally sound and won't highlight any potential problems. In most instances, it is worth paying for a more in-depth survey.
Homebuyer's report: The most popular type of survey, this will look at the general state of repair of the building, the roof, and the windows. It will also note any problems such as evidence of subsidence. Some problems can still go undetected as the surveyor won’t do any deep digging, such as lifting the floorboards.
Full structural survey: This is worth getting if you’re buying an old property or a renovation project. While this will cost you more than a homebuyer’s report, it is far more comprehensive. This will give you the most detail about the state of the property you’re looking to purchase.
When the buyer and seller are both happy with the terms, they sign and exchange contracts. The deal is now legally binding, so there's no going back! The buyer will normally pay a deposit on exchange and is now responsible for the home insurance on the new property.
Completion day is the final element of the conveyancing process. You can exchange and complete within a matter of hours, but most people prefer to leave seven to 28 days for any final checks.
Once everything is in order, the balance of the purchase price can be paid. It can be a nervous wait on completion day because you need to wait for your mortgage lender to transfer the money to the seller's bank account. Ultimately, this can take a bit of time.
Once the funds land, the property is yours and you can collect the key and move in. Your conveyancer will then register ownership with the Land Registry and arrange for you to pay any stamp duty that’s owed.
It’s hard to say, as there are various costs and charges involved when buying a home. The cost of conveyancing depends on many factors, too, such as the price of the property, whether it’s a leasehold or freehold, if it’s a Shared Ownership, Help to Buy or Right to Buy property, among others.
There’s also a fair number of extra fees to consider. As well as the legal fees, you may also need to pay for the disbursements – that’s what third parties charge for certain services. This includes charges for searches, bank transfers, Land Registry fees, Stamp Duty (and other taxes where applicable), and any additional services.
You might also be charged more if you use a Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA. And if you’re buying and selling, that costs more than if you’re only selling. Not to mention, you’ll likely need to pay more if the conveyancing process is more complex or urgent than expected., or if the property is a leasehold.
If you’re selling only, you can expect to pay somewhere between £600-£900 in total. However, if you’re buying and selling, it can cost you around £2,000-£3,000: the legal fees can range between £500-£1,150, while the disbursements can add up to above £700.
Your chosen professional may charge a fixed fee, an hourly rate, or a percentage of the property price.
The best way to find out an estimated cost for conveyancing is to get a quote with MoneySuperMarket. To get the most accurate quotes, try to fill out as many details as possible.
It's perfectly possible to carry out conveyancing yourself, but it can be complicated and time-consuming. You could also end up in a terrible mess if something goes wrong, so it’s highly recommended you find a solicitor to do it for you. Most people instruct licensed conveyancers to act on their behalf, as they’re specialists.
Conveyancers are solicitors who focus on property law and are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) in England and Wales. They can sometimes work out cheaper than a solicitor, but a licensed conveyancer can only deal with conveyancing. If any problems arise that do not relate to property law, you will have to call in a solicitor.
A solicitor can carry out conveyancing but is also licensed to advise on other areas of the law.
You don’t necessarily need a licensed conveyancer or solicitor when exchanging property. In fact, you can choose to do the conveyancing yourself.
However, if you’re buying with a mortgage, you’ll need a licensed professional to handle the legal work.
It’s also important to note that some mortgage lenders will only want to deal with solicitors or conveyancers. Also, should any problems arise, you might not be covered by insurance – in comparison, solicitors and conveyancers will have professional insurance.
In general, we’d recommend getting a qualified professional. Conveyancing can be complex, with many legal considerations to take note of. With a conveyancer or solicitor, you can minimise any risk or legal complications that may arise.
Technically, yes. You can carry out your own conveyancing if you wish. But undertaking this task may come with a few risks.
In fact, the conveyancing process is not a straightforward one. If not handled correctly, mistakes could be made and problems may arise. One of them being, for instance, a boundary dispute.
You may even miss a major defect in the home or inadvertently skip some legal requirements when transferring ownership. If this is the case, you could be sued for compensation further down the line.
Therefore, it may be wise to always hire a solicitor or conveyancer when buying (or selling) a home.
You probably want to choose a conveyancer who is familiar with your area. Most people also want to instruct someone who comes recommended. It’s important to remember that solicitors’ fees can be expensive, so you should always check the likely cost before you instruct a conveyancer.
Make sure that you understand exactly how the fee system works. Some firms, for example, do not charge if the sale falls through, which could save you hundreds of pounds in legal fees.
MoneySuperMarket has joined forces with ULS Technology and Optimus, so you can compare more than 200 highly rated solicitors and licensed conveyancers to find the right firm at the right price.
We want to show you conveyancing quotes from as many solicitors as possible. We can’t promise to show you quotes from every single firm, though, because some don’t want to be included on comparison websites. We’ve ranked conveyancing quotes from the cheapest to the most expensive.
The process of buying and selling a house is different in Scotland, so you should choose an experienced local firm if the property is north of the border.
In Scotland, for instance, land sale becomes legally binding once a series of letters (known as ‘missives’) are exchanged. The whole process can be relatively swift and may even be over in the space of a few weeks.
Another difference is that, across the border, it’s always the seller’s job to give evidence that they’re entitled to sell the property.
Conveyancers split their fees into two sections:
Legal fees: This is the basic charge for the work they do
Disbursements: These are charges for the third parties who conduct searches and surveys
Surveys: Sometimes, surveys discover unforeseen problems which may need to be resolved before the process can continue
Chains: A chain is a sequence of buyers and sellers, each waiting on someone else to buy their existing property before they can buy the one they want. If a property chain is long, it’s likely that there will be a hold-up further down the line
Mortgage applications: Sometimes, a bank might take longer than normal to approve a mortgage application as it investigates the buyer’s finances
The length of the process varies between every case. The average time can be around six to eight weeks to completion.
However, this depends on multiple factors, including how complex the transaction is and the length of the property chain attached.
There are numerous elements that will affect your conveyancing fees in comparison to others:
The value of a property: Some conveyancers take the price of your property into account and charge a percentage based on this
The tenure of the property: Whether it is on a leasehold or freehold can affect the price of conveyancing due to the different legalities and paperwork associated with each
Disbursements: Every sale or purchase will require different surveys and searches, which will be reflected in your fees
Legal fees: The basic fee a conveyancer charges will differ from business to business. This can range from £300 to £2,400, depending on whether you’re buying, selling, or both
There are many different type of disbursements that may be necessary when buying or selling property:
Bankruptcy search: Your solicitor will check all named parties listed on the mortgage application to ensure that no one has been declared bankrupt (£2 to £4)
Drainage search: This will vary based on different water companies. It will make sure that the property is connected to a freshwater supply and to sewage systems (£30 to £40)
Environmental search: An environmental search looks at factors such as subsidence and ground contamination (£30 to £35)
Land registration fee: This is based on the value of your property (£40 to £910)
Land registry office copies: Your solicitor will complete searches to make sure the seller is the legal owner. This price is for one transaction (£4 to £8)
Local authority searches: This can be based on the borough that the property is in or the postcode. These searches determine factors like planning applications (£100 to £200)
Telegraphic transfer fee: This is the charge incurred by the bank to send the money to the seller (£25 to £45)
On average, money is spent in three stages when buying property or land:
Starting the transaction: You’ll be asked by your conveyancer to put up some money to pay for searches and surveys at the property you’re looking to purchase
The deposit: When it’s time to exchange contracts, you’ll be required to pay 10% of the purchase price. Once the contracts have been exchanged, you are then legally bound to complete the purchase on the day of completion
Completion: On the day of completion, you’ll be required to put up the rest of the funds. As this needs to be sent through your bank, it can take some time to be processed. Normally, you are able to collect the keys to your new property after midday once everything has been completed
There is no universal answer to this question, as it depends entirely on your circumstances.
If you hire a solicitor or conveyancer who offers a no-sale, no-fee package, you’re unlikely to pay conveyancing fees should the sale fall through. That said, you may still have to cover other costs and fees, especially if any searches have already been carried out.
If you’re unsure, make sure to carefully go through your agreement’s terms and conditions before you hire a conveyancer or solicitor. This way, you’ll know what to expect if the property sale doesn’t go to plan.
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