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Conveyancing Process for Buying a House

Nicola Ryan

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

13th Oct 2022 (Last updated on 8th Feb 2024) 7 minute read

When buying a property, you will need to go through the conveyancing process to successfully complete the transaction. Hiring a conveyancer or solicitor will ensure that you have an efficient process with minimal delay.

Whether you are a first-time buyer or are purchasing a freehold or leasehold, understanding the stage of the conveyancing process will ensure that you are confident when purchasing the property.

In this guide, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the conveyancing process when buying a property.

  1. What is Conveyancing?
  2. Instructing a Conveyancing Solicitor
  3. Stages of the Conveyancing Process for Buyers
  4. How Long Does Conveyancing Take When Buying?
  5. Conveyancing Fees for Buying
  6. Is it Better to Use a Solicitor or Conveyancer?
  7. Finding a Conveyancer

What is Conveyancing?

When buying a house, conveyancing takes up the majority of the process. This is because all the necessary searches and legal documents must be submitted.

Hiring a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor is not a requirement by law. However, it is highly recommended. Conveyancers guide you through the legalities of your house purchase. They prevent delays and minimise stress. Some people think that they can carry out the conveyancing themselves to save money. This is not recommended, especially if you are a first-time buyer who has not dealt with property transactions before.

Your conveyancer’s responsibility is to provide you with advice and guidance. They will also ensure that all documents are submitted correctly and on time. Make sure that your conveyancer or solicitor is regulated by either the SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI, or CILEx.

Conveyancing solicitors charge more than conveyancers. This is because they are more qualified and have carried out more training.

Instructing a Conveyancing Solicitor

The best time to instruct your conveyancing solicitor is once your offer has been accepted. You should begin your conveyancer search during the property viewing stage. Hiring your solicitor as soon as possible will ensure that you have an efficient process.

If you are part of a property chain, it’s best to hire your solicitor sooner as you will likely be buying and selling a property at the same time.

The best way to find a conveyancer or solicitor is by researching and comparing quotes, so you can find the right conveyancer for you.

The conveyancing process starts when your offer is agreed on and ends on completion day.

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Stages of the Conveyancing Process for Buyers

Here are the stages of the conveyancing process when buying a property:

Step 1: Instruct Conveyancer

You will need to instruct your conveyancer once your offer has been agreed upon. This is the start of the conveyancing process. Your conveyancer will ask you for basic information such as your full name, your current address, and the sale price that was accepted. You will need to provide your estate agent with details on your solicitor or conveyancer.

Step 2: Receive Paperwork From Conveyancer

Your conveyancer will then write up a draft contract, stating the deposits and various charges that you will need to pay. Once you have read the contract and agreed on the quotes provided, you can sign and return them to your conveyancer.

Your conveyancer will then begin to correspond with the seller’s solicitor. Your conveyancer will be sent a contract pack by the seller’s conveyancer. This includes a Fittings and Contents form and the Property Information form. This pack will include everything you need to know about the sale as well as what items are included and what will be taken.

Step 3: Apply for Mortgage and Book Property Survey

You will then need to apply for a mortgage and receive a mortgage offer before booking the relevant property survey. A property survey will highlight defects that can affect the property and surrounding area. The Level 2 HomeBuyer Report is best for newer properties and properties with standard construction. On the other hand, a Level 3 Building Survey is more comprehensive and goes into greater detail on defects. Where defects are found, your surveyor will provide repair costs and solutions.

You can use the survey to renegotiate your offer, go ahead with the sale as is, or even withdraw from the sale completely.

Step 4: Property Searches

Your conveyancer will need to conduct relevant conveyancing searches. The local council will hold most of the information on the property and surrounding area. The searches will reveal any environmental problems that can affect the property or surrounding area. The conveyancing searches consist of the Environmental Search, Local Authority Search, and the Water & Drainage Search.

Step 5: Receive the Draft Contract

You will receive your draft contract from your conveyancer after the searches have been completed. This tends to happen between 0 and 3 weeks once your offer has been accepted. This report gives you the chance to review the results from the searches and ask any questions you may have.

Step 6: Ask Pre-Contract Enquiries

Your conveyancer may also raise any pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. If you have any concerns when reading through the contract pack, this is where your conveyancer can ask questions.

This stage can be completed quickly, or take some time. It is dependent on the communication between your conveyancer and your seller’s conveyancer.

Step 7: Arrange Deposit To Be Paid

Once you are happy with the contract pack, your conveyancer will draft up a transfer deed and completion information form. This will then be sent to the seller’s conveyancer for approval. Your conveyancer may carry out further searches and submit a completion statement.

Arrangements will then be made for the deposit payment and the exchange of contracts will be organised.

Step 8: Exchange Contracts

You will then need to exchange contracts which will make the sale legally binding. If you decide to withdraw from the sale after the exchange of contracts, you will face financial penalties. At this stage, both conveyancers will have all the contracts drawn up and prepared. Once the contracts have been exchanged, the completion date will be arranged.

Step 9: Completion Day

Completion Day marks the end of the conveyancing process. This is when ownership is transferred from the seller to the buyer, finalising the sale. You will be required to send your conveyancer your mortgage lender details.

Step 10: Pay Any Stamp Duty

Once completion day has passed, you will have to pay Stamp Duty within 30 days. Your conveyancer will make the payments on your behalf. Stamp Duty Land Tax is one of the final payments you will have to make before the house is officially yours. They will then receive the transfer deed, title deeds, and proof that the seller has paid the outstanding mortgage.

Step 11: Register With Land Registry

Lastly, you will need to be registered with the Land Registry. This is done by sending a TR1 form and mortgage deed over. Once this is done, you will receive copies of the registered title deed. Your conveyancer will send the documents on your behalf. When this stage is done, you can begin plans for moving into your new home.

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How Long Does Conveyancing Take When Buying?

The conveyancing process takes between 8 and 12 weeks to complete on average. The process is defined as the period of time between the offer being accepted and completion day. However, the total length of time your conveyancing process will take depends on the difficulty of the case.

Here are the average steps and times for the conveyancing process:

Stages of the Conveyancing ProcessApproximate time taken
Arranging a mortgage4 weeks
Conveyancing searches2-6 weeks
Exchanging contracts to completion1-2 weeks
Average time for the conveyancing process8-12 weeks

Some factors that can increase the time include whether the property is freehold or leasehold and if you are part of a property chain or not.

Conveyancing Fees for Buying

The average conveyancing fee when buying a freehold property is £2,239 including VAT when purchasing a house at the UK average of £277,000. This cost consists of solicitor fees and disbursements.

Different scenarios can impact the conveyancing costs. Buying a freehold property without a mortgage costs approximately £2,119 including VAT. It costs less as you won’t have to pay the £220 mortgage supplement fee.

Another scenario that can influence the cost is if the property is leasehold when using help to buy. This costs around £2,774 including VAT on average. Buying or selling leasehold properties boast higher fees due to the extra paperwork that must be submitted. On top of this, using help to buy incurs a supplement fee when applying for the Equity Loan.

Our Conveyancing Fees Calculator offers an approximate cost to give you an idea of how much you may have to pay.

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Is it Better to Use a Solicitor or Conveyancer?

Conveyancers and solicitors are both qualified to guide you through the legal process. The major difference between them is the level of training that they have received. Conveyancers specialise in property and estate-related cases. Conveyancing solicitors will have received further training on top of their legal training.

Conveyancing solicitors charge more as they can take on cases across various industries. On the other hand, conveyancers deal with property transactions specifically.

Regardless of whether you choose a conveyancer or solicitor, make sure that they are regulated by a respected body. Consider regulatory bodies such as the SRA or the CLC.

Finding a Conveyancer

At Compare My Move, we have a network of conveyancers who we work closely with. We can connect you with up to 5 licensed conveyancers, allowing you to compare quotes and save money on your conveyancing fees.

Nicola Ryan

Written by Nicola Ryan

Nicola focusses on all things moving house at Compare My Move where she writes articles for the advice centre, guiding users through everything they need to know about moving house.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner, RMNJ Solicitors

With 19 years of experience in the residential conveyancing industry, Gareth Brooks is a partner and head of management for the conveyancing department at RMNJ Solicitors.

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