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What is Conveyancing? The Conveyancing Process Explained

Written by Reviewed by Gareth Brooks

1st Oct 2018 (Last updated on 30th Jul 2020) 11 minute read

Conveyancing is a required service when buying and selling a property. Many people may not be familiar with the process, especially if they're a first-time buyer. But, in short, it concerns the legal aspects of transferring property ownership.

There’s a lot to consider when you’re buying or selling a house. From hiring a surveyor to finding an appropriate mortgage lender, there are many services involved. Conveyancing is one of them. The conveyancing process includes conducting property searches, exchanging contracts and finalising the sale. It’s a vital process to the transaction, ensuring it’s completed legally.  

To help you with your research, Compare My Move has compiled the ultimate guide on everything you need to know about conveyancing solicitors and their process. From a step by step guide to how much conveyancing costs, we’ve included everything you need to know to help you through the process.

This article will cover the following:
  1. What is Conveyancing?
  2. What Does a Conveyancer Do?
  3. Who Does Conveyancing?
  4. Conveyancing Solicitor vs Conveyancer
  5. The Conveyancing Process Step by Step
  6. How Much Does a Conveyancer Cost?
  7. What is a Transfer Deed?
  8. How to Find a Reliable Conveyancing Solicitor

What is Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is a term that refers to the legal and administrative work that comes with transferring the ownership of land or buildings. A licensed conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor will work on behalf of the person buying or selling the property to make sure the necessary contracts and documents are signed and transferred.

You will need to get a Conveyancer after you’ve agreed a sale on a house with the buyer or seller. Conveyancing will be a vital service for both the buying and selling of a property. When buying, the process will last until you receive the keys and when selling, it ends when you hand the keys over. Conveyancing is one of the main costs of buying a house.

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What Does a Conveyancer Do?

Your Conveyancer will help take care of the legal side of buying and selling a house, with the ultimate goal being the transfer of ownership. They will ensure that the necessary documents and administrative duties are carried out.

Main responsibilities include:

  • Applying for and reviewing Local Authority and Drainage Searches
  • Applying for and reviewing location specific searches, e.g. buying a property in a mining area such as Tin Mining in Cornwall or Coal Mining in Wales
  • Applying for and reviewing Land Registry searches
  • Reviewing the Land Registry documents for the property and providing advice on the content
  • Preparation and review of the Contract
  • Liaising with mortgage lenders and complying with their requirements
  • Liaising with the seller/buyer’s Conveyancer
  • Making the Contract legally binding on the seller and buyer, known as ‘Exchange of Contracts’
  • Transfer or receive the sale price to facilitate ‘Completion’ of the transaction  

If you are buying a property

Your Conveyancer will give advice and explain the conveyancing costs from your property purchase , like Stamp Duty. They will read through and check  the contract and documentation on your behalf. These documents will contain vital information like property boundaries, sale price, fixtures and fittings included in the property, etc. They should also be able to tell you if there are any restrictive covenants on the property

Your Conveyancer will apply for and review a Local Authority Search and a Drainage Search. The Local Authority Search is specific to the property and will provide important information, such as whether the road serving the property is maintained by the council and detail any planning applications for extensions etc. The Drainage Search will confirm the location of any sewers that run near to the property and whether the property is connected to the mains water and sewerage.

Your Conveyancer will liaise with your mortgage lender and ensure their requirements for the property are met.

Once you and your mortgage lender are happy to proceed, your Conveyancer will co-ordinate the Exchange of Contracts, which makes the deal legally binding, and will set a Completion Date (the day you will move in). Their final task will be transferring the sale price to the seller’s Conveyancer, before registering you as the new owner of the  property at the Land Registry.

If you are selling a property

Your Conveyancer will give advice and explain the conveyancing costs for your property sale. They will ask you to complete the necessary property information forms and will prepare and send the contract paperwork to the buyer’s Conveyancer.

Your Conveyancer will then help answer any questions raised by the buyer’s Conveyancer about the property

Once your buyer is happy to proceed, your Conveyancer will co-ordinate the Exchange of Contracts and will set a Completion Date (the day you will move out). Their final task will be receiving payment of the sale price from the buyer’s Conveyancer, paying off your mortgage (if any) and paying the net proceeds over to you.

Who Does Conveyancing?

As well as licensed conveyancers, conveyancing solicitors are also legally trained to do conveyancing. Conveyancing solicitors are highly qualified and specialise in a variety of fields in property law. Whereas licensed conveyancers specialise in conveyancing only. 

It's not illegal to do your conveyancing yourself, however it's not advised as there are many risks included. These risks could delay or even stop the transaction altogether. It'll save you valuable time getting a professional to do the job.

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What is the Difference Between a Solicitor and a Licensed Conveyancer?

Both licensed conveyancers and solicitors are regulated and qualified to undertake conveyancing. They’re both regulated by professional associations that set standards of practice and offer protection for their clients. Licensed conveyancers are regulated by the CLC (Council of Licensed Conveyancers) and solicitors are regulated by the SRA (Solicitors Regulation Authority) and the Law Society.

Whilst both licensed conveyancers and solicitors are qualified to carry out conveyancing, the main difference is that conveyancing solicitors will be trained in a variety of legal fields in addition to conveyancing. Licensed conveyancers specialise in conveyancing only.

The Conveyancing Process Step by Step

Whether you’re buying or selling your house, you will need a conveyancer for the process. Here, we have broken down the process for both buying and selling a house. The conveyancing process for both buying and selling will start once an offer has been agreed upon.

Below are the 6 main steps that'll occur during the conveyancing process, followed by a quick breakdown for both buying and selling.

what is conveyancing

Conveyancing Process for Buying 

Here we will highlight the main tasks a conveyancer has to carry out during the conveyancing process for buying a house.

Step 1Instructions to the Conveyancer

After a sale price has been agreed by the seller, you will need to instruct your Conveyancer. At this point, buyers usually arrange for a property survey for their new house. Remember to compare surveyors to get the best price for your survey.

When? Instructing the conveyancer will be the first thing you'll do.

Step 2 - Receive Draft Contract

Your conveyancer will receive the draft contract paperwork from the seller's Conveyancer that will include the Contract, Land Registry documents and property information forms completed by the seller. 

When? The draft contract should be received within weeks 0-3 of the sale being agreed.

Step 3 – Conveyancing Searches & Pre-Contract Enquiries

The buyer’s Conveyancer will then carry out property searches with the water authority and the local authority . Your Conveyancer will review the draft contract paperwork and the property search results. They will then submit a set of Pre-Contract Enquiries to the seller’s Conveyancer to be answered to ensure the property is legally sound to purchase.

When? Searches % Pre-Contract Enquiries usually take place from weeks 2-10.

Step 4 - Agree on the Completion Date

Once all the Pre-Contract Enquiries have been satisfied, your Conveyancer holds all the necessary signed paperwork from you and your mortgage lenders requirements have been met then the Conveyancers on both sides will agree on a completion date that suits everyone involved. Be realistic with the date you choose, give yourself enough time to transfer payment to your Conveyancer and arrange a removal company.

When? Completion date will be decided on before exchanging contracts.

Step 5 - Exchange of Contracts

The buyer’s conveyancer will ensure they have all the necessary documents ready to exchange.  Once Conveyancers on both sides are ready then Exchange of Contracts is achieved by way of a telephone call between the Conveyancers. The transaction becomes legally binding on all parties and the Completion Date is formally set.

When? Exchanging contracts should happen after 8-10 weeks.

Step 6 – Completion

Your Conveyancer will transfer the sale price to the seller’s Conveyancer and once the payment is received then completion will have taken place. The seller will move out of the property and you can move in.

When? Completion will take place on the Completion Date set in the Contract, usually 7-14 days after Exchange of Contracts.


Conveyancing Process for Selling

These are the main steps for the conveyancing process for selling a house.

Step 1 - Instructions to the Conveyancer 

After a sale price is agreed, the first step will be to instruct your Conveyancer. You'll have to fill in the necessary paperwork and legal documents before they can start the process. Once instructed, they will send to you all the necessary paperwork to complete, which will include the property information forms. Your Conveyancer will obtain the Land Registry documents which record your ownership of the property. They will usually do this by downloading them from the Land Registry’s website.

When? Instructing your conveyancer will be the first thing you'll do.

Step 2 - Draft Contract

Your Conveyancer will prepare and send over to the buyer's Conveyancer the draft contract paperwork. The paperwork will include the contract, Land Registry documents and property information forms that you completed.

When? 0-4 weeks from the date the sale was agreed.

Step 3 - Pre-Contract Enquiries

The buyer’s Conveyancer will review the draft contract paperwork and will then submit a set of Pre-Contract Enquiries to your Conveyancer to answer. Your Conveyancer will usually need your help to answer some of the enquiries. Your Conveyancer will then attempt to satisfy the enquiries.

When? Pre-Contract Enquiries usually take place from weeks 2-10.

Step 4 - Agree on the Completion Date

Both parties will need to agree on a completion date. Once the buyer’s Conveyancer confirms their Pre-Contract Enquiries are satisfied then Conveyancers on both sides will agree on a completion date that suits everyone involved. Be realistic with the date you choose, give yourself enough time to arrange a removal company.

When?  Completion date will be decided on before exchanging contracts.

Step 5 - Exchange of Contracts

The buyer’s Conveyancer will ensure they have all the necessary documents ready to exchange.  Once Conveyancers on both sides are ready then Exchange of Contracts is achieved by way of a telephone call between the Conveyancers. The transaction becomes legally binding on all parties and the Completion Date is formally set.

When? Exchanging contracts should happen after 8-10 weeks.

Step 6 – Completion

The buyer’s Conveyancer will transfer the sale price to your Conveyancer and once the payment is received then completion will have taken place. You will need to move out of the property and the buyer can move in.

When? Completion will take place on the Completion Date set in the Contract, usually 7-14 days after Exchange of Contracts.

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How Much Does a Conveyancer Cost?

Conveyancing fees will vary, often depending on the cost of your house. The cost for a conveyancer is typically between £500 and £1,500 plus VAT. Below are the average costs of conveyancing for the average price of a UK house. According to the UK House Price Index summary, the average house price in June 2019 was £230,292. It's important to note that a variety of factors can influence your conveyancing costs. But to help with your research, we've created a broad overview of the costs for an average priced freehold house. 

These are the conveyancing buying costs for the average price of a house, costing between £200,001 and £300,000 (not including stamp duty).

Conveyancing Buying Service 

Cost of Service

Legal Fee & VAT£1,040
Conveyancing Searches
£290
Land Registry Searches
£6
Land Registry Registry Fee£135
Telegraphic Transfer Fee£40
Total£1,511


These are the conveyancing selling costs for the average price of a house, costing between £200,001 and £300,000.

Conveyancing Selling Service

Cost of Service

Legal Fee & VAT£1,000
Land Registry Document Fee£6
Telegraphic Transfer Fee
£40
Total£1,046

*We took a sample of fees from 50 licensed conveyancers across the UK to find these averages, but this is just an indication of costs. Fees will greatly vary depending on your situation and conveyancer.

For further details and a deeper analysis of conveyancing prices, you can find Compare My Move's data here in our Conveyancing Costs guide.

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What is a Transfer Deed?

The transfer deed is arguably the most important document in the conveyancing process. A transfer deed is the final document that legally transfers ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. It will be sent to the Land Registry to complete the transfer of ownership.

It comes in four standard forms, either TR1, TR2, TR3 or TP1, with TR1 being more commonly used. The transfer deed form TR1 is used within the majority of sales since this is for a transfer of the whole of a title by the registered owners.

The transfer deed is drafted by the buyer's conveyancer and has to be signed by the seller. It has to be submitted after the draft contract has been approved and before exchanging contracts.

How to Find a Reliable Conveyancing Solicitor

Get connected with Compare My Move to help save you time, money and stress throughout your conveyancing process. Simply fill in our quick form and we’ll provide you with up to 5 licensed conveyancers or conveyancing solicitors in your local area.

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.