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What Is Conveyancing?

A step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process

5 min read
Updated: 16 Nov 2022

You cannot buy your first home or any other property without going through conveyancing. But what is conveyancing exactly? It’s the legal process involving the transfer of property ownership titles from one person to another. Read ahead to learn more.

What is conveyancing? Who can do it for you and how much will it cost? MoneySuperMarket’s easy-to-understand guide answers all these questions and more.

What is conveyancing?

The term conveyancing refers to all the legal and administrative work associated with transferring the ownership of land or buildings from one person to another.

The conveyancing process begins after you have had an offer accepted on a property. It ends once the final contracts have been signed and the money has been transferred to complete the purchase.

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Who does my conveyancing?

You can hire a solicitor, property lawyer, or a licensed conveyancer to do your conveyancing for you.

You may find you can save money by opting for an online conveyancer, some of which charge as little as £500.

All solicitors are qualified to undertake work of this kind, but not all are experienced in it.

It could therefore prove sensible to hire a solicitor who specialises in residential property transactions. Alternatively, you could get in touch with a dedicated licensed conveyancer who only works on cases of this kind.

You may, however, find that you have to choose from a list of conveyancers approved by your mortgage lender or pay a fee to go elsewhere.

What exactly will a solicitor/conveyancer do for me?

One of the first things a solicitor or conveyancer will do when instructed is to conduct vital searches with organisations, including local authorities and utility companies. This is to ensure that there are no building plans afoot, such as – for instance – an enormous prison next door.

These searches will also reveal if there are sewers running close to the property, if the area is categorised as a flood risk, and whether it has any financial liabilities hanging over it from past inhabitants.

They will also advise you of any "incurred costs", such as stamp duty. What’s more, they will check the contracts drawn up by the seller’s solicitor or conveyancer. Contracts set out vital details, including the sale price and the property boundaries. Then, conveyancers will liaise with your mortgage lender to ensure it has all the information it needs to proceed.

Once the process is at an end, they will also pay all the related fees on your behalf (with money you have transferred to the company account) and register you as the new owners of the property with the Land Registry.

How much will it cost?

The cost of conveyancing services depends on the value of the property you are buying. That said, there is not necessarily more legal work involved in buying a £3 million mansion than there is with a £100,000 flat purchase.

However, the conveyancing required for the average property purchase generally costs around £850. This amount includes the charges for the conveyancer’s time, calls, and letters, as well as the fees for the council searches and registration with the Land Registry.

You may find you can save money by opting for an online conveyancer, some of which charge as little as £500. But if you’re worried about your buyer pulling out, for example, it may be worth paying a bit more for a no-completion, no-fee service that means you owe nothing if the deal collapses.

Some solicitors will also allow you to agree upon a fee upfront. Though, if things become complicated, you may have to pay extra.

How long does conveyancing take?

When it comes to how long conveyancing takes, it’s fair to say that there is no exact timeframe. In fact, the length of the process can vary from case to case.

Should everything go to plan, from the offer stage to completion, you can expect the conveyancing process to last six to eight weeks. But there are several factors that could have an impact on the process and slow things down.

This is especially true if it’s a purchasing or selling move that involves many different chains. In this scenario, the whole conveyancing process could take longer than usual.

Can I do my own conveyancing?

DIY conveyancing is possible. However, it’s a complicated and time-consuming business that could end in disaster if, for instance, you fail to spot a boundary dispute.

In some cases, sellers do not even have the legal right to sell the properties they are marketing, which could result in a house-buying nightmare.

What’s more, most mortgage lenders will insist on employing a solicitor or conveyancer to protect their interests. The huge majority of property buyers are better off with a professional conveyance as a result, especially when they are buying a home for the very first time.

Is conveyancing necessary when remortgaging?

Undertaking conveyancing when you remortgage depends on your personal circumstances. Generally, though, you may not need a solicitor or conveyancer if you’re remortgaging with your current mortgage lender. That said, it’s always wise to get in touch with a solicitor or conveyancer to prevent any unwanted mishaps down the line, especially in more complicated scenarios.

If you’re switching mortgage lenders, then free legal advice might be part of their package and offering. Make sure to check their terms and conditions to find out what is included in their policy.

Compare conveyancing options with MoneySuperMarket

There is no hiding that buying or selling a property, including its many different legal and bureaucratic phases, can be overwhelming at first. But the conveyancing process needn’t be a hassle.

MoneySuperMarket is always here to help! Just tell us a bit about yourself, your house, and your needs, from special requirements to budgets. We’ll scour the market in search of the best deals and options for you and your family.

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