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How Long Does Conveyancing Take?

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

20th May 2019 (Last updated on 23rd Sep 2020) 6 minute read

The conveyancing process can take anywhere between 8 and 12 weeks from the point the sale is agreed. The time that it takes to complete your conveyancing transaction will depend on whether you’re part of a property chain, if you are buying or selling and the conveyancing solicitor you choose to go with.

Compare My Move have put together this guide, covering everything you need to know about how long conveyancing takes. From conveyancing with no chain to why conveyancing can take so long, this guide will cover everything.

This article will cover the following:
  1. Why Does Conveyancing Take So Long?
  2. How Long Does Conveyancing Take With No Chain?
  3. How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?
  4. How Long After Searches to Exchange?
  5. How Long Between Exchange and Completion?
  6. How Long Does Conveyancing Take When Buying a House?
  7. How Long Does Conveyancing Take When Selling a House?
  8. Save on Your Conveyancing with Compare My Move

Why Does Conveyancing Take So Long?

The conveyancing process usually takes between 8 and 12 weeks but will vary. Depending on your situation, your case can take much longer than 8-12 weeks.

Conveyancing can take a long time for many reasons. Each step of the process must be completed correctly to avoid even 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.

Reasons conveyancing can take a long time

Property chain - If you’re part of a property chain, the conveyancing process will take longer than if you’re not. If another transaction in the sale is experiencing delays, then this will slow down your conveyancing process too.

  • Adverse survey results - Your property survey could return adverse results which will bring things to a halt. It’ll take extra time to see if you can negotiate your offer, get further expert advice or pull out of the purchase.
  • Mortgage offer delay - If everything else is in place and you’re still waiting for your mortgage offer to be issued, this can delay the conveyancing process. The same will apply if your mortgage offer has expired too. Mortgage offers will usually last between 3 and 6 months.
  • Delay in conveyancing search results - Your conveyancer will have to order property searches from the relevant authorities. Depending on how well-staffed and busy the local authority is, the searches could take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks to be completed.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take With No Chain?

Conveyancing with no property chain should usually take approximately 8 weeks from the point the sale is agreed. Many delays in the usual conveyancing process will come from other transactions in a property chain. If you’re lucky enough to not be part of a property chain, your conveyancing process should be shorter.

Although you won’t experience the delays that come with being in a property chain, conveyancing with no chain will still come with some setbacks. You’re still at risk of negative survey results as well as a delay in receiving search results or legal issues with the property revealed by your conveyancers review of the contract paperwork.

If you’re a first-time buyer, you won’t have a house to sell and therefore won’t be part of a property chain.

How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

Conveyancing searches can take anywhere between a few days to even a few weeks to be carried out and the results to be returned. Conveyancing searches are made up of a local authority search, environmental search and drainage and water search.

The time it takes for the searches to be complete will depend on how many and the type of searches you require.

The local council will be responsible for carrying out the local authority search. The time the search take to be completed will depend on how busy your local authority is. Some local authorities will take longer than others so there isn’t a definite time-frame.

The environmental search and the drainage and water search results should usually take between 5–10 days to be received by your conveyancer from the date they are applied for.

Although conveyancing searches can take a while, they are essential in finding important information about the property. It’ll be worth the wait if you discover any negative information that might crop up once you’ve moved in.

How Long After Searches to Exchange?

Exchanging contracts usually happens in week 8 of the conveyancing process but can be earlier or later depending on your situation. You must have the results from the conveyancing searches and agree on a completion date before exchanging contracts.

To speed up the process of exchanging contracts, you should make sure you have everything in place. Your conveyancer will be able to provide you with guidance of what you will need to do. Avoid property chains if possible, as you'll have to wait for the first transaction in the chain to exchange before you can.

How Long Between Exchange and Completion?

Completion day will happen on the completion date agreed by the conveyancers when the contracts are exchanged. The time between the exchange date and the completion date will vary depending on the type of transaction, the personal circumstances of the parties involved and the size of the chain. Completion day is usually 7-14 days after the date of exchanging contracts..

It's rare to exchange and complete on the same day (known as 'simultaneous exchange and completion'). But it's possible if you are not in a property chain and the property you are buying is vacant.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take When Buying a House?

Conveyancing when buying a house usually takes longer as there are more stages to to the process for a purchaser. The conveyancing process for buying will begin once your offer has been accepted. 

Your conveyancer will need to obtain conveyancing searches on the property you’re going to buy. It can take up to a few weeks to get the search results depending on the local authority.

You will need to obtain a survey and a mortgage offer (if required). Both of which will take time to apply for, receive and review.

Your conveyancer will need to review the contract paperwork provided by the seller’s conveyancer together with the search results. Your conveyancer will then submit a set of Pre-Contract Enquiries to the seller’s conveyancer to answer. The enquiries are raised to help ensure the property is legally sound. 

Only once you have received and are satisfied with the survey results and your conveyancer receives the search results, replies to the Pre-Contract Enquiries and your mortgage lender has confirmed that their requirements have been met, can you then move to exchange of contracts and the setting of a completion date.

On average, from the point the sale is agreed, a straightforward house purchase with no chain will take 8-12 weeks to be completed.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take When Selling a House?

The conveyancing process for selling a house can take less time than when you’re buying as there are less stages to the process for the seller to follow. 

The main stage to the process for the seller is for their conveyancer to put together the draft contract paperwork and then answer any Pre-Contract Enquiries raised by the buyer’s conveyancer. If this stage can be undertaken quickly, then it will help with the speed of the transaction.

If you have a cash buyer, there is no property chain and the transaction is straightforward, then it could take 6-10 weeks from the point the sale is agreed for completion to be achieved.

If the buyer requires a mortgage and elects to have a survey done, then they will need to follow the usual conveyancing process. Then you are looking at approximately 8-12 weeks for a straightforward sale to be completed. 

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Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having written for Huffington Post and Film Criticism Journal, Martha now regularly researches and writes advice articles for everything moving house related.

Gareth Brooks

Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

Solicitor and Partner at RMNJ Solicitors, 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.