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What is a Conveyancer and What Do They Do?


Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

7th Oct 2021 (Last updated on 15th May 2024) 8 minute read

A conveyancer takes care of the legal aspects of transferring property ownership. This includes covering the legalities when buying and selling properties. They can also help those looking to remortgage their homes. You should hire a conveyancer once your offer is accepted.

Your conveyancer will be on hand to act in your best interest. This includes liaising with the other party’s solicitor. They will also order essential searches and submit the relevant documents for your transaction.

In this guide, we’ll take you through what a conveyancer does and how they will assist you with your property transaction.

  1. What Does a Conveyancer Do?
  2. What is a Licensed Conveyancer?
  3. What is a Conveyancing Solicitor?
  4. Is There a Difference in Cost?
  5. Finding a Conveyancer

What Does a Conveyancer Do?

A conveyancer has a vitally important role, from the moment you instruct them, right up until completion day.

1. Open a Purchase File

Their first job will be to 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, including a form asking for your basic details.

You will be expected to provide some form of photo ID, such as a passport or driving license as part of basic money laundering checks. They will then contact the other party’s solicitor and obtain a draft of the contract and other documents, such as the title deeds.

However, if you’re selling, they will ask the estate agent for a memorandum of sale. This will contain the details of everyone within the property chain.

2. Establish if the Property is Freehold or Leasehold

While most properties are freehold, your solicitor must check whether it's freehold or leasehold. Freehold means you will have absolute ownership of the property and its land. We offer an article which covers everything you need to know, from how much it costs to buy the freehold to the right to manage.

You will own a leasehold property subject to the provisions of a lease for a fixed term of years. However, you will not own the land on which it stands. However, if eligible you can go for a leasehold extension. Most flats and apartments are leasehold with the freeholder owning the entire building.

3. Organise Local Searches

Conveyancing searches provide information about the land and property. Your solicitor will arrange these searches on your behalf.

The main searches include the Local Authority Search, Environmental Search and the Water and Drainage Search. There are also specialist searches for those buying a property in a mining area among others.

The information that emerges may include details of flood risks or high radon gas levels.

Read more on How Long Do Conveyancing Searches Take?

4. Fill Out 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 solicitor will also have to retrieve the property's 'protocol documents’. These are necessary documents for the conveyancing process. They include the following:

  • A Property Information Form (TA6 Form)
  • A Fittings and Contents Form (TA10 Form)
  • A Leasehold Information Form (TA7 Form)

5. Monitor the Progress of the Sale

Conveyancers must keep their clients up-to-date on the process by keeping a clear line of communication. They should answer any questions and provide advice when needed. This is crucial when dealing with complex cases and long property chains.

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6. Raise Queries and Carrying Out Checks

Your conveyancing solicitor will thoroughly go through all the paperwork involved in the sale. They will also raise any questions or queries they have with the other party’s solicitor.

Once the queries brought up have been rectified, the next job is signing and returning any outstanding documents.

7. Request the Deposit

The buyer’s solicitor 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. 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 should clear the same day.

8. Agree on the Exchange and Completion Dates

Your solicitor will have to negotiate the date of exchange with the other party’s solicitor. The solicitors will exchange contracts and the sale becomes legally binding. This stage is called the Conclusion of Missives in the Scottish conveyancing process.

Once the contracts have been signed and exchanged, they will then 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.

It’s important to note that this stage of the process is when you must pay outstanding payments. These funds will need to be cleared before completion such as Stamp Duty Land Tax.

9. After Completion

If you’re buying the property in England or Northern Ireland, they will have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf, using your funds. In Scotland, this cost is called Land and Buildings Transaction Tax and Land Transaction Tax in Wales. They will also ensure the documents were successfully sent to the Land Registry.

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.

What is a Licensed Conveyancer?

Licensed conveyancers are qualified professionals who specialise in the legal aspects of buying, selling and remortgaging a home. They can assist with property sales and purchases. Conveyancing firms should be regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). This will ensure that all cases are handled to the highest standard with expertise.

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What is a Conveyancing Solicitor?

Conveyancing solicitors can offer a wider range of legal services as well as conveyancing. This includes transfer of equity and lease extensions.

Conveyancing solicitors should be regulated by a respected regulatory body. This means they have the qualifications and experience to handle complex cases. They should be members of one of the following institutions:

  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
  • Law Society of Scotland (LSS)
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI)
  • Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX)

The SRA forbids solicitors from representing both the buyer and seller as this is viewed as a conflict of interest. On the other hand, the CLC allows conveyancers to represent both parties.

Some people prefer this for an efficient process and better communication. Others believe that indiscretions and delays can occur when represented by the same firm.

Is There a Difference in Cost?

Solicitors usually charge more than conveyancers as they are more qualified in a range of legal services. Be aware of those who charge an hourly rate as it looks cheap at first, but tends to add up quickly. Most firms operate on a fixed fee conveyancing service these days.

It’s common for both conveyancers and solicitors to pay referral fees to estate agents to help gain clients. The only difference is that the SRA requires by law that solicitors disclose their fees to their clients. The CLC doesn’t require conveyancers to do this.

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How Much are Conveyancing Costs?

The average conveyancing fees for buying a house are £2,239 and £1,690 for selling a house. Conveyancing costs will vary, often depending on the cost of your house and its location.

What is Fixed Fee Conveyancing?

Fixed fee conveyancing is when a fixed price is agreed upon beforehand. It's common for many conveyancing solicitors to operate a fixed fee service, but not all will use it as some still work at an hourly rate.

What is No Sale No Fee Conveyancing?

No sale no fee conveyancing is offered by some firms. It means if the property transaction falls through, you don’t have to pay the legal fee. It’s important to note that you might still have to pay for other third-party services such as property searches and your surveyor.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take?

The conveyancing process takes between 8 and 12 weeks on average. The conveyancing process will vary for everyone, depending on whether you’re in a property chain. If you are a first-time buyer or don't have a property to sell, you are chain-free. This means you should experience a quicker conveyancing process than those who have to sell a house first. Online conveyancing may also be a faster option as the entire process is conducted online.

Where Can You Find a Conveyancer or Conveyancing Solicitor?

Finding the right conveyancer will provide you with peace of mind to ensure a more efficient process. Using a comparison site such as Compare My Move. Fill out our conveyancing comparison form to compare up to 6 quotes and save up to 70% on your total costs.

Do I Need to Hire a Conveyancer?

You will need to hire a conveyancer or solicitor when buying or selling a property. This is because most transactions require a mortgage or dealing with mortgage lenders. The conveyancing processes are highly complex if you do not have adequate experience.

If you are unhappy with their services, you can change solicitors during a house sale or purchase. Keep in mind that this may come with additional fees.

Finding a Conveyancer

At Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 conveyancers to save you up to 70% on your conveyancing costs. All our conveyancing partners have passed our strict verification process for your peace of mind. This means they are all regulated by either the SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI or CILEx.

Need a Surveyor?

Once you've found a conveyancer, you soon might need the help of a RICS property surveyor. Simply fill in our integrated conveyancing and surveying comparison form to get connected today.

You can compare companies through our integrated conveyancing and surveying form by filling out a few extra steps. We will then connect you with local conveyancers and surveyors to save on the whole process.

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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