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What is Conveyancing? The Conveyancing Process Explained

Martha Lott
Written by Martha Lott
1st October 2018 (Last updated on Wednesday 5th December 2018)

There are a lot of costs to consider when you’re selling and buying a house. You’ll have to factor in services such as surveyors, estate agents and home removal costs.

Hiring a conveyancer is another required service when selling your house and buying a new house. Many people might not be familiar with the conveyancing process, especially if you’re a first-time buyer.

We’ve compiled the ultimate guide on everything you need to know about property conveyancing, from a step by step guide on the conveyancing process, to how much conveyancing costs.

This article will cover the following points

What is Conveyancing? What Does a Conveyancer Do? Who Does Conveyancing? What is the Difference Between a Solicitor and a Licensed Conveyancer? Conveyancing Process Step by Step How Much Does a Conveyancer Cost? What is a Transfer Deed? How to Find a Good Conveyancing Solicitor

What is Conveyancing?

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

You will need to get a licensed conveyancer after you’ve agreed an offer on a house with the buyer or seller. Conveyancing will be a vital service for both the buying and selling of a property. The conveyancing process will last until you receive the keys when you’re buying and when you hand the keys over when you’re selling.

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 transferring of ownership from the seller to the buyer. They will ensure necessary documents and administrative duties are signed and carried out.

Main responsibilities include:

  • Council and utility company searches
  • Land registry searches
  • Advisory duties
  • Checking contracts
  • Liaising with mortgage lenders
  • Liaising with the seller/buyer’s solicitor
  • Finalise contracts
  • Pay fees and sale price

The first thing a conveyancer will do once your offer has been accepted is to search with utility companies and the local authority to check for existing liabilities, such as building plans or financial hangovers from the previous occupant. They'll uncover if there are building plans in the nearby area too, such as a prison or high-rise flats. The searches will reveal if any sewers run near the house and identify if the house is at risk of flood. 

Your conveyancer will provide advice and explain the conveyancing costs from your property purchase or sale, such as Stamp Duty. They will read through and check all contracts and documentation on your behalf that has been written by the conveyancer of the seller. These documents will contain vital information such as property boundaries, sale price, fixtures and fittings included in the property, etc. 

Once you are happy to proceed, the buyer's conveyancer will meet the mortgage lender and make sure they have all the necessary information. Their final task and responsibility is to pay all related fees and the sale price of the property, before registering you as new owner of the house with the Land Registry.

Who Does Conveyancing?

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

It's not illegal to do your conveyancing yourself, however it's not advised as there's many risks that could crop up. It'll save you valuable time getting a professional in to do the job. 

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, therefore they have a range of knowledge on property law. Licensed conveyancers specialise in only conveyancing, arguably having more of an in-depth knowledge of conveyancing.

Conveyancing Process Step by Step

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

Below is the main 6 steps that'll occur during the process, followed by a breakdown of the process for both buying and selling, including the times of each step. 

what is conveyancing

Conveyancing Process for Buying 

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

Step 1Instructions to the Conveyancer

After a sale price has been agreed by the seller, you will need to instruct your conveyancer. They will provide you with a legal contract pack including a fittings and contents form and the property information form which will be sent over from the seller’s conveyancer. At this point, buyers usually arrange for a property survey for their new house.

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

Step 2 - Receive Draft Contract

Your conveyancer will receive the draft contract from the seller's conveyancer and you will get the essential documents for the purchase such as the the official copies.

When? The draft contract will be completed from weeks 0-3.

Step 3 – Searches

The buyer’s conveyancer's will then carry out searches with utility companies and the local authority to check for existing liabilities, such as building plans or financial hangovers from previous occupants.

When? Searches take place from weeks 2-8.

Step 4 - Agree on Completion Date

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 sort everything out. 

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

Step 5 - Exchange of Contracts

The buyer’s conveyancer will gather all the final documents ready to exchange. These will include the transfer and mortgage deed. The seller’s conveyancer checks the transfer deed, final contract and essential documents and sends to the seller for signature in readiness for completion.

When? Exchanging contracts should happen after 8 weeks.

Step 6 – Completion

A conveyancer’s final task is to pay all related fees and the sale price of the property, before registering you as new owner of the house with the Land Registry. The buyer’s conveyancer will send the required fees to the seller’s conveyancer, or the seller’s conveyancer will request and redeem the fees from the buyer’s side.

When? Completion can take place anywhere from 7-28 days after exchanging 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. 

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

Step 2 - Get in Touch with Mortgage Lender 

Your conveyancer's first job will be to contact your mortgage lender to retrieve the title deeds for the property. Your mortgage lender will be able to send your conveyancer the remaining balance to pay for your mortgage. 

When? This needs to happen before exchanging contracts

Step 3 - Draft Contract

As your conveyancer for selling your house, they are responsible for creating the draft contract to send over to the buyer's conveyancer for signing. The contract will include important details such as price, fittings and fixtures, planning restrictions, and any legal restrictions. 

When? 0-3 weeks in to the conveyancing process, draft contracts will be created.

Step 4 - Agree Completion Date

You'll need to agree a completion date with both parties involved. Make sure you know everything will be sorted by that day when agreeing a completion date.

When?  You will agree on a completion date after the draft contract has been signed.

Step 5 - Exchange of Contracts

The final step will be to exchange contracts with the buyer's conveyancer. The buyer will then be able to pick up the keys and move in.

When? Exchanging contracts should happen after 8 weeks, then completion will happen 7-28 days after.

How Much Does a Conveyancer Cost?

Conveyancing fees will vary on the cost of your house. The cost for a conveyancer are 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 August 2018 is £232,797

These are the conveyancing buying costs for the average price of a house rounded up to £250,000.

Conveyancing Buying Service 

Cost of Service

Legal Fee£530
Disbursements, Land Registry & Other Fees£340
VAT£150
Total£1020


These are the conveyancing selling costs for the average price of a house rounded up to £250,000.

Conveyancing Selling Service

Cost of Service

Legal Fee£470
Disbursements, Land Registry & Other Fees£30
VAT£100
Total£600

Data from conveyancingcalculator.co.uk

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 transferring of ownership.

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

The transfer deed is normally 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 Good Conveyancing Solicitor

Get connected with Compare My Move to save you time, money and stress on your conveyancer. Simply fill in our quick form and we’ll provide you with up to 4 licensed conveyancers or conveyancing solicitors in your area.