Guide to Conveyancing

About this guide

Conveyancing is a vital process of buying and selling a house. At Compare My Move, we strive to make moving house as stress-free as possible. That’s why we work hard to share everything you need to know about the conveyancing process in this guide on conveyancing. 

Conveyancing can seem daunting, so before you hire a conveyancer, you should have a basic understanding of what is conveyancing. Our guide begins with a detailed look at everything you should know about conveyancing and the process. 

Finding the right conveyancer or solicitor doesn't need to be difficult and our in-depth article will help you spot the signs of a good conveyancer. We only work with licensed conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors that are SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI or CILEx regulated to give you peace of mind. 

The conveyancing process for buying a house can take between 8-12 weeks. Although it can seem daunting, especially if you’re a first-time buyer, it’s important that you get to grips with the legal jargon before you find a conveyancer. The conveyancing process for selling a house differs slightly to buying, so it's vital you are aware of the timeline. We'll take an in-depth look at the process and how you can speed things up to avoid any delays in your move.

By having all the important information in one place, with a focus on what is conveyancing, finding the right conveyancer, and the process for buying and selling, you will be fully prepared for your conveyancing process. After reading through the complete guide, we hope you’ll feel confident about what to expect when hiring a conveyancer.

  • 1. What is conveyancing?

    Conveyancing is the legal process that transfers ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. A licensed conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor will work on behalf of the buyer or seller to make sure the necessary contracts and documents are signed and transferred.

    The conveyancing process begins as soon as an offer is accepted on a house and will end after the legal documents are exchanged, when the seller receives the final funds and the buyer receives the keys. 

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  • 2. What does a conveyancer do?

    A verified conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor's job is to help you through the legal process of buying or selling a house. You must hire a conveyancer once you’ve made an offer on a house or have had your offer accepted. 

    Despite being able to complete the conveyancing process yourself, it’s highly advised you hire a trusted, qualified and experienced conveyancer as it’s often a difficult and complicated process to get through. In this article, we will explain exactly what a conveyancer does, why they’re important and how you can find a reliable and licensed conveyancer to help you with your transaction. 

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  • 3. What are conveyancing searches?

    Conveyancing searches are enquiries that your conveyancer will make to different authorities to learn about the property you plan to buy. Conveyancing searches are only necessary when you are buying a house, not selling. The main conveyancing searches are local authority searches, water and property searches and environmental searches.

    Conveyancing searches are designed to inform your mortgage lender that the property won’t lose its value. These searches will also give you more information about the area and the property itself, playing a decisive factor in whether you go ahead with the purchase.

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  • 4. What is a local authority search?

    Local authority searches are a type of property search that your conveyancer will organise. The search will look into the local area and land where the house you plan to buy is.

    By having a local authority search, you will be made aware of any local issues that could affect the house and use it to negotiate on the price.

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  • 5. How to find a conveyancer?

    To find a reputable licensed conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor, you should ensure they are SRA, CLC, LSS or LSNI regulated. The best way to find a verified and trustworthy conveyancer is to use a comparison website such as Compare My Move. We have a network of regulated and trusted conveyancers who are monitored closely by our hard-working team. Other methods such as family recommendations and word of mouth are useful in finding a trustworthy conveyancer, too. 

    When searching for a conveyancer, keep in mind that the industry is competitive. Be wary if a conveyancer is offering their services at a low price. Look for a company that offers a ‘fixed-fee’ service as this means you will pre-arrange a fixed price for the job. Make sure they offer a 'no sale, no fee' service so you won't be charged legal fees if the sale was to fall through. 

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  • 6. What is the Solicitors Regulation Authority?

    The Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) is the official regulatory body for conveyancing solicitors in England and Wales. If you see a conveyancer regulated by the SRA, you will have peace of mind that they will perform to a high standard.

    Compare My Move only work with conveyancers that are regualted by the SRA, CLC, LSNI and LSS. 

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  • 7. How long does conveyancing take?

    The conveyancing process takes between 8 and 12 weeks. Yet, the conveyancing timescale can vary depending on if you are part of a property chain or not and if you are buying and selling or buying or selling. Conveyancing for selling a house will take less time than buying as you don’t need conveyancing searches and will be chain-free.

    Conveyancing takes time as each step of the process must be completed correctly to avoid further delay. To avoid a delay in your conveyancing case, you should instruct your conveyancer to begin the conveyancing process once your offer has been accepted or you’ve accepted an offer from a buyer. 

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  • 8. How long after searches to exchange?

    When you buy a property your conveyancing solicitor will carry out “searches”. These are enquiries made to various organisations to find out more information about the property before you buy it. 

    Typically, it takes three to six weeks for searches to be returned to your conveyancer. But how long searches take is largely out of your conveyancer’s control – it depends on how long it takes for the different bodies to respond.

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  • 9. The conveyancing process

    You will need a licensed conveyancer for both buying and selling property. The process is slightly different if you’re buying as you’ll require property searches, making the conveyancing process for buying a house more expensive.

    Compare My Move work with property experts to bring you informative moving house advice. This guide will give a detailed look at the conveyancing process for buying a property to ensure you’re fully prepared for the conveyancing process. 

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  • 10. Money laundering checks when buying a house

    When buying a house, your conveyancing solicitor will need to see evidence of your deposit, usually in the form of a mortgage in principle or a bank statement that highlights the funds. 

    You’ll also need to show where the funds came from, which is called source of funds. For example, if you’ve been gifted your deposit, the person who gave the deposit will have to sign a declaration to confirm it is a gift. 

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  • 11. How does conveyancing work for new build homes?

    The new build conveyancing process is different and more complex compared to conveyancing for previously owned properties. To start the transaction and make an offer, you’ll have to reserve the property by paying a reservation fee.

    This is often non-refundable but deducted from the final price. The property will normally be reserved for 28 days once this has been paid and then the conveyancing process must begin immediately. 

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  • 12. How much are conveyancing costs?

    The average conveyancing costs for buying a house is £1,040, and the average conveyancing costs for selling a house is £1,000. These are the legal fees associated with buying and selling the average UK house priced at £234,370, and include 20% VAT.

    These costs are an average and your conveyancing costs will vary depending on the conveyancer you choose and the price of the property you are buying or selling.

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  • 13. Can you pull out of a property sale or purchase?

    After the exchange of contracts, all parties involved are legally bound to the contract and must adhere to its terms. Pulling out of a property sale or purchase after this stage could result in serious legal or financial penalties. 

    When you sign and exchange contracts, you are legally committing to the transaction. You can pull out of a house sale or purchase at any point before this stage in England and Wales. In Scotland, however, you are only able to pull out of a property sale before the conclusion of missives. In this article, we will explain when it is possible to pull out of a property sale or purchase and how to do so successfully. 

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  • 14. Selling a Probate Property

    When a person dies, the legal process under which their estate is managed is known as probate. Selling a probate property is a slightly more complicated process than a regular property sale. There will be a number of legal factors and additional costs to consider, from the probate application to empty house insurance. 

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  • 15. What is vacant possession?

    Vacant possession means that the property in question will be empty by the completion of the sale. If a property is being sold with vacant possession then the sellers or tenants must move out and remove all of their personal belongings by completion day. Anything left within the home must be items that have already been agreed upon with the buyer and written into the contract.

    Compare My Move works alongside a number of professional property and finance experts, creating insightful guides to help you through the moving process. If you’re currently in the process of buying or selling a house, you may already recognise the term ‘vacant possession’. In this article, we will explain precisely what that means for you, why it’s important and when it should be given. 

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  • 16. What are conveyancing disbursements?

    Conveyancing disbursements are part of your conveyancing costs and are made up of fees that your conveyancer pays for third-party services. Your conveyancer will pay for the services on your behalf.

    Conveyancing fees will be made up of part legal fees for your conveyancer and part disbursements for the additional services your conveyancer has to carry out. You will need to pay disbursements for both buying and selling a house, although you won’t have to pay as many for selling. 

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  • 17. What is an environmental search?

    An environmental search is a conveyancing search that is required when buying a house. It makes up part of the conveyancing search pack along with the Local Authority Search and the Water and Drainage Search.

    The environmental search will be ordered by your conveyancing solicitor from an Environmental Agency and will reveal important information about the past use of the land the property is built on, potentially influencing your decision to go ahead with the purchase. 

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  • 18. What is an engrossment fee?

    There are a number of conveyancing fees that you will encounter when buying or selling a house. One such costs could be an engrossment fee. Ana engrossment fee is a fee that your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will charge you when making a genuine and legalised copy of the legal documents for signature. An example of this would be the lease when purchasing a flat or leasehold property. 

    Compare My Move work with professional property and finance experts to create insightful guides that will aid you through your house purchase. In this article, we will explain what an engrossment fee is, when you should expect to come in contact with one and why it must be paid. 

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  • 19. What is fixed fee conveyancing?

    Fixed Fee Conveyancing is where a pre-agreed price is determined for the legal service being given - the price quoted at the start should then be the price you pay at the end of the process with the various disbursements included alongside the fixed fee.

    Fixed fee conveyancing is common throughout the UK, with very few conveyancers still offering an hourly rate conveyancing service. With a fixed fee conveyancing quote, you’ll know exactly how much you need to factor into your moving budget. 

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  • 20. What is No Sale No Fee Conveyancing?

    “No Sale No Fee Conveyancing” is a sales agreement from a conveyancer which means if the sale or purchase of the property falls through, you won’t have to pay their legal fees. Be aware that this does not mean that you will not incur any costs if the sale fails to complete. Any costs from third parties incurred on your behalf, for example for searches and surveys, will need to be paid to your conveyancer regardless of the outcome of the sale.

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  • 21. What is Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance?

    Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance is designed to protect home buyers, and their money, during the buying process. When it comes to buying a home, the costs involved go beyond the initial deposit and can quickly add up. By having Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance in place, you could recoup some of the funds lost.

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  • 22. What is online conveyancing?

    Online conveyancing works the same as traditional conveyancing, but the major difference is that it will take place online or over the phone. There are notable benefits to using an online conveyancer such as quicker transactions, a cheaper price tag and easily trackable progress. 

    Yet, online conveyancing does come with its downsides. Online conveyancing will lack the personal touch that you get with traditional conveyancing, and, most of the time, the company will be dealing with a heavy workload so you’ll have to deal with different conveyancers. 

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  • 23. What is indemnity insurance?

    Indemnity insurance is a protective insurance policy taken out during property transactions. It will cover you against any legal property issues that would be difficult to resolve. Although the chances are small that you encounter a legal defect, the price would be costly if you did.

    Compare My Move work with property experts to help keep you informed throughout the buying a house process. In this guide, we explain what indemnity insurance is, what the policy covers, how much is indemnity insurance and who has to pay. 

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  • 24. What is a TR1 form?

    The TR1 Form is a legally binding document that transfers ownership of a property from one party to another. The transfer will then be registered at the Land Registry and noted on the Official Copy Entries. It is an extremely important document that you should read carefully with your conveyancer before signing.

    As part of the conveyancing process, the Land Registry TR1 Form must be sent on completion to help finalise the sale. This transfer could possibly be accompanied by money that is paid to the seller from the buyer - if so, this is known as ‘the consideration’. However, if money does not exchange hands, the transfer is recorded for ‘no consideration’.

    Compare My Move works with a number of finance and property experts to create insightful guides that will aid you through every step of the moving process. In this article, we will discuss what the TR1 Form is, its purpose and what specifically is included in the document.

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  • 25. What is the TA6 Property Information Form?

    The Law Society’s TA6 Property Information Form exists so that the seller can provide the prospective buyer with important information about the home. This includes environmental matters, rights and informal arrangements and any notices, proposals, disputes and complaints. This allows the buyer to make a fully informed decision on the property purchase.

    The TA6 is one of three standard Law Society protocol forms a seller will need to complete. The other two are the TA10 Fixtures & Content form and if it is a leasehold property, the TA7 Leasehold Information Form.

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  • 26. What is the TA10 Fittings and Fixtures Form?

    The TA10 Fittings and Fixtures Form (or the Fittings and Contents Form) will clearly outline what is and is not included in the property sale. The seller will be required by law to complete this form to stipulate exactly what fixtures and fittings will be included in the contract. It should clearly explain what will be included in the property price but also what the seller is willing to leave but won’t include in the price.

    Compare My Move works alongside a number of property and finance experts to create informative and insightful guides that will help you through the buying and selling process. In this article, we will clearly explain what the TA10 Fittings and Fixtures Form is, how it works and what should be included within it. 

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  • 27. What is a flying freehold?

    Flying freehold is used to describe a property where part of the building lies over, or under, a part of another freehold property. This might be because a property overhangs, extends, or protrudes onto another freehold property or land. Hence the ‘flying’ part of the name.

    Flying freeholds are most common where an old building has been converted into a number of smaller freehold properties. It can also be the case with maisonettes (a flat with its own outside entrance).

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  • 28. Can you do your own conveyancing?

    It’s not recommended, but you can do conveyancing without hiring a conveyancer. But, if you’re a buyer or seller using a mortgage lender, then it’s usually impossible to complete the process without using a regulated conveyancer. Unless you are legally confident to understand the jargon and the paperwork, you should hire a conveyancer.

    If you’re buying or selling a property without a mortgage or outstanding mortgage, then you will have the option to do the conveyancing yourself. If you still decide to continue alone, ensure you research the process well and are familiar with the tasks at hand. 

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  • 29. Do you need a solicitor to remortgage?

    You’ll need a conveyancing solicitor to help with the remortgaging process if you’re moving to a new mortgage deal from a different lender. If you’re remortgaging with your current lender, it won’t require legal help. 

    Certain checks and searches as well as obtaining legal documents are needed when remortgaging, so it’s important to hire the services of a conveyancing solicitor. If you’re remortgaging on a leasehold property, then this involves further help from a solicitor too. 

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  • 30. What happens when you inherit a house?

    Inheriting a property after a relative or loved one has passed away can bring a mixture of emotions. Understanding how to prepare for the process will help make inheriting a house seem less daunting. It’s important to note that you are likely to be faced with deciding what to do with the property: you won’t have to make an immediate decision in most cases.

    Compare My Move work with industry experts to bring you the most informative and helpful advice for buying and selling property. From inheritance tax to who makes the decisions on inherited property, this guide will cover everything you need to know when inheriting a house.

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  • 31. Transfer of equity process

    Transfer of equity is a change in the co-ownership status of a property by adding or removing a person from the deeds of the property. This alters the ownership of the property from a legal perspective. 

    You might arrange a transfer of equity to buy out an ex-partner, add your spouse to your property’s deeds, change the percentage shares owned by the co-owners of a jointly owned property, or transfer property ownership from joint to single. Transferring names on house deeds is commonly done on marriage or divorce.

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  • 32. How to extend a lease

    A lease extension is the process of adding years back onto a lease and extending the time you have before the property reverts back into the ownership of the freeholder.

    Extending the lease on a leasehold property will increase its value and make it easier to sell – but extending a lease can be a long and expensive process.

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  • 33. Best Rated Conveyancing Solicitors 2021

    At Compare My Move, we have a strong network of verified licensed conveyancers and conveyancing solicitors who can help with your move. We are proud to work with some of the best conveyancing companies across the UK. 

    All of our conveyancing partners go through a strict verification process before they’re allowed to join. We’ve put together this guide so you can learn more about our best conveyancing solicitors and licensed conveyancers that work with Compare My Move. Based on their 5-star reviews, here are our top 5 conveyancing partners.

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