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What Does a Conveyancer Do?

Zenyx Griffiths

Written by

18th Jan 2021 (Last updated on 12th Mar 2021) 12 minute read

A conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will aid you through the legal process of buying or selling a property. You must hire a conveyancer once you’ve made an offer on a house or have had your offer accepted. Both sellers and buyers will require the assistance of a professional conveyancer to complete the transaction. 

Conveyancing involves all the legal aspects of a property purchase. 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.   

Our team at Compare My Move work alongside a number of property and finance experts to provide you with the most up-to-date and insightful articles that will help you through the process. 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. 

This article will cover the following:
  1. Why is Hiring a Trusted Conveyancer Important?
  2. What Will Your Conveyancer Do First?
  3. Establish if the Property is Freehold or Leasehold
  4. Organise Local Searches
  5. Fill Out the Necessary Legal Forms and Gather Documents
  6. Monitor the Progress of the Sale
  7. Raise Queries and Carrying Out Checks
  8. Request the Deposit
  9. Agree on the Exchange and Completion Dates
  10. After Completion
  11. Where Can You Find a Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor?
  12. Learn More About Conveyancing

Why is Hiring a Trusted Conveyancer Important?

Buying or selling a house can be a complex and time-consuming process. However, your chosen conveyancing solicitor will organise and carry out all the legal work on your behalf. Whilst it’s possible to do your own conveyancing, it’s highly advised that you hire a trusted and experienced conveyancer to ensure the transaction is legal and that ownership has indeed been accurately transferred.    

Properties are costly, and so it’s vital that the legal process is completed without mistakes and that the right searches are carried out so that you’re aware of exactly what you’re buying. Any mistake could lead to a dispute or mean that ownership has not been transferred in the eyes of the law.

The benefits of hiring a conveyancer include:

  • Having the vital knowledge and experience to complete the conveyancing process and the paperwork involved. 
  • Being prepared for each stage of the transaction. 
  • A more efficient conveyancing process with potentially fewer complications. 
  • A clear line of communication throughout the property chain. 
  • More accurate results from any and all conveyancing searches organised.
  • Having an extra set of experienced eyes to go through the contract. 

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What Will Your Conveyancer Do First?

Once you’ve instructed a suitable conveyancer, they will open a purchase file and provide you with their terms of engagement. This will explain their conveyancing fees and the deposits you will need to pay, whilst the file will contain a form asking for your basic details. 

The purchase file will also require the details of your estate agent and mortgage lender. If you’re a buyer, they will enquire about the deposit and how you intend to pay. You will also be expected to provide some form of photo ID, such as a passport or driving license. By this stage, you should then be given a fixed-fee estimate that is based on all the information you’ve provided. However, it’s important to note that this estimate may change if the legal work becomes complex. 

Your conveyancer will then contact the other party’s solicitor and obtain a draft of the contract as well as any other vital forms and documents, such as the property’s title deeds. 

However, if you’re selling, your conveyancer will also ask the estate agent for a memorandum of sale which will contain the details of everyone within the property chain. You will also be asked to complete a number of legal questionnaires concerning the property and what you’re willing to include in the sale. 

Establish if the Property is Freehold or Leasehold

Whilst drafting the contract, your conveyancer will establish whether the property is freehold or leasehold. 

Freehold means you will have absolute ownership of the property and its land. It is when the owner is “free from hold” from any third party and is responsible for the property, land and its maintenance. Most houses are freehold but it’s vital your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor checks. 

Leasehold means that you do not own the land or property outright, someone else does. Ownership of the property can only be passed on when the lease expires and does not get renewed. If you purchase a leasehold home, you will be asked to sign a legal agreement with the landlord or freeholder - the lease. Leases typically last between 99 to 125 years, but some can extend to 999 years.

Organise Local Searches

A buyer can’t tell everything about a property just from the viewings. There could be hidden defects, problems with planning permissions, things affecting its overall value. As part of the conveyancing process, your conveyancer will arrange a number of essential local searches to provide further information about the land and building. Some of these searches will be demanded by your mortgage provider whilst others will be a legal requirement. 

The results will highlight any factors you need to be aware of as a buyer. This includes developments being planned in the area, local radon gas emissions, plans for new roads and the risk of ground instability. You may also receive a Flood Risk Report and information concerning contaminated land. All of these are issues that will affect you as an occupant, should you purchase and live at the property.  

Your conveyancer will also discuss the need for a property survey. Whilst the conveyancing searches will uncover legal factors that affect the property and local area, they do not assess the physical condition of the building. Property surveys are inspections of the property and its internal structure - they highlight defects that will affect the valuation of the home and will uncover any problems that may need extensive repair work.

The conveyancer will inspect the results of both the local searches and property survey to aid you in the negotiation process. The information that emerges may provide evidence that will ensure you’re in a stronger position to negotiate the price, both as a buyer and seller. It may even convince you to walk away from the sale altogether. 

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Fill Out the Necessary Legal Forms and Gather Documents

Once the seller’s solicitor has drafted the contract, it needs to be sent to the buyer’s conveyancer, along with the Title, or Deeds, for the property. The Deeds for homes sold at least once since 1990 will be available online with the Land Registry.

The buyer’s conveyancer will also have to retrieve the property's 'protocol documents’. This includes a number of forms, including:

  1. A Property Information Form - In this document, the seller must disclose everything about the property. This can include anything from neighbour disputes to previous building work.  
  2. A Fittings and Contents Form - This should outline what the seller is willing to include in the sale. For example, a seller may be willing to leave behind the fridge or furniture. The seller must leave everything stated in this form and cannot take or leave behind any belongings not already cleared in this document.  
  3. A Leasehold Information Form (if applicable) - If you’re buying a leasehold home such as a flat or apartment, you will require this form to explain all the factors and responsibilities that come with purchasing the property. It will explain the amount of ground rent and maintenance fees the occupant is expected to pay and will contain the contact details of the freeholder or management company.

Monitor the Progress of the Sale

One of the main roles a conveyancer will have is keeping their client up-to-date on how the process is progressing. They should keep a clear line of communication and answer any questions or queries they may have. Transactions with long property chains will often be delayed, meaning communication will be even more essential. 

Don’t be afraid to contact your conveyancer for regular updates and to ensure there’s nothing currently expected from you. You should be made aware of any time restrictions or collapses within the chain.  

According to data from Quick Move Now, over 43% of house sales fell through in 2020, with the top reason being that the buyer pulled out of the sale. In 2019, 24.42% of property sales fell through, with the number one reason being, again, the buyer changing their mind. During that same year, 9.09% of sales failed due to a break in the property chain. It is problems such as these that you must be made immediately aware of by your conveyancer. 

Raise Queries and Carrying Out Checks

To ensure progress continues, your conveyancing solicitor will thoroughly go through all the paperwork involved. They will also raise any questions or queries they have with the conveyancer acting on behalf of the other party involved. From questionable Flood Risk Report results to discrepancies in the Deeds, they will handle everything. 

If they uncover any problems, the process might be slightly delayed until a solution is found. However, it’s essential that the process is done correctly. Once the queries brought up have been rectified, your conveyancer will send you the documents to sign and return.

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Request the Deposit

For the next stage in the process, the buyer’s conveyancer will request the deposit for the property purchase. This will typically be around 5-10% of the purchase price, depending on their mortgage agreement.

The payment will likely be made online through a bank transfer, but multiple payments over a number of days may also be accepted depending on the bank’s daily limit. There is also the option of transferring the money via CHAPS, but this often comes with an added cost of £10-£35. If the payment is made before 3 pm, it will clear the same day.    

Many buyers opt for a single transfer as the exchange date can often be arranged close to the date of completion as a result.

Agree on the Exchange and Completion Dates

Next, your conveyancer will have to negotiate the date of exchange with the other party’s solicitor. The date of exchange will be the day you exchange contracts and the sale becomes legally binding. 

Once the contracts have been signed and exchanged, your conveyancer will then have to arrange the date of completion. The completion day is when the buyer obtains the keys to their new home and they can begin to move in. You shouldn’t book a removal company until you have the definitive completion date, however. The sellers will need time to move out before the buyer can arrange plans. 

It’s important to note that this stage of the process will also be when your conveyancer collects any outstanding payments. These funds will need to be cleared before completion. This stage may require some compromise until a date for both days can be agreed upon, but they will then signify the end of the sale and the successful transfer of ownership with the Land Registry.  

After Completion

The buyer will now officially own the property and hopefully be settled in. However, the conveyancer’s job won’t be complete just yet. 

If you’re buying the property, they will have to pay Stamp Duty on your behalf, using your funds and check the documents were successfully sent to the Land Registry. Your mortgage lender should also receive a copy of the Deeds from them. After approximately 3 weeks, you should be sent your legal documents back from the Land Registry as confirmation that you are the new owner. 

If you’re the seller, you will have to pay your estate agent and receive any remaining legal documents that confirm the sale was successful. You should also receive any outstanding payments before the conveyancing process is complete.

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Where Can You Find a Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor?

Now that you understand the role of a conveyancer, it’s time to find one appropriate for your circumstances. There are a number of ways to find a reliable conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor - but no matter where you search, research is key in choosing the right professional for the job. 

Finding the right conveyancer will provide you with peace of mind, ensure a more efficient process and potentially even ensure a quicker transaction. There is the option of choosing an online conveyancer, but this won’t be as personal as they will be working with more than one client, ensuring their time is split between multiple transactions. 

You can find a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor by:

  • Visiting a comparison website like Compare My Move
  • Going through a mortgage provider’s panel
  • Reviewing recommendations
  • Searching a specific location

No matter how you find them, it’s vital you research the conveyancing solicitor thoroughly before you begin working with them. Look at their reviews and research properties they have previously worked on. Ask trusted family and friends for recommendations and carefully review the company’s website, ensuring you’ve read every small print. You will also have to enquire if they are working on a “No Sale No Fee” basis.

If you’re using a conveyancer recommended by a mortgage lender, estate agent or housing developer, you may end up paying more. You should be wary of any recommendations you receive and do your own research to ensure they are reliable and qualified experts. As part of your research, you should ask who they are regulated by. To provide added protection and ensure you receive quality services, your chosen solicitor must be regulated by either the SRA, CLC, LSS or LSNI. 

By comparing conveyancing quotes with Compare My Move, you will be connected with the best conveyancers in the business. All our partners must go through our strict verification process and be fully-regulated before entering our network. They are then constantly monitored by our business team, ensuring they continue to work to our high standards.

Learn More About Conveyancing

This is part of our conveyancing guide. In the next part of this series, we explore everything you need to know about conveyancing searches. To learn more read what are conveyancing searches

Zenyx Griffiths

Before Compare My Move, Zenyx once wrote lifestyle and entertainment articles for the online magazine, Society19 as well as news articles for Ffotogallery.