It is essential to comprehend the various steps involved in conveyancing when purchasing a property. This will help you understand the role of your conveyancer in the process. The following guide pertains specifically to properties bought in England and Wales.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from the seller to you when buying it.

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What will my conveyancer do?

The first step is for your conveyancer to receive a draft contract pack from the seller’s solicitors. The pack will have all the necessary information about the property you want to buy, including details of any completed work with relevant guarantees and a list of the fixtures and fittings that come with the purchase. For example, the buyer may agree to leave behind kitchen appliances but prefer to take the curtains and carpets. If there is something specific that you want the buyer to leave, it is best to ask, as there is a possibility that the seller may agree to sell those items to you.

Afterwards, your conveyancer will ask questions about any missing, unclear, or incorrect information or any disagreements with what you believe you are purchasing.

After you receive the contract pack, your conveyancer will perform several searches to ensure no problems could affect the property’s value. Such problems could impact your ability to secure a mortgage from your lender or lead to issues in the future. For instance, if the property has undergone any alterations without the necessary permissions, such as an extension, the local authority may take enforcement action, which could reduce the property’s value.

Your conveyancer will perform several searches, including Land Registry, local authority, environmental, water authority, and location-specific searches. These searches will inform you of any issues concerning the area you’re buying, which you should be aware of.

The time it takes for your conveyancer to receive the searches can differ between local authorities and may depend on the type and number of searches needed and current market demand. Talk to your conveyancer to get an estimated date for when they should receive the searches.

Your new lender will send a copy of your mortgage offer to your conveyancer, who will review the conditions if you are buying a property with a mortgage.

What are the next steps?

After both parties formally agree on the contract details, you and the seller must sign the contracts before a witness. However, you must arrange building insurance for your new property before exchanging contracts. It is a legal requirement if you are buying property with a mortgage. You will be held responsible for the property once the contracts are exchanged, even though you will not move in until completion.

Your conveyancer will assist in scheduling the completion date, which will be determined by the availability of everyone involved in the move. The completion date could be a few days or a few weeks after the exchange of contracts. Upon completion, your conveyancer will transfer the funds to purchase the property. After the seller’s conveyancer confirms receipt of the funds, you can collect the keys to your new home.

Once the conveyancing process is finished, your conveyancer will update the title register to show you are the owner. If your property is in England or Wales and you have a mortgage, your conveyancer will also register the mortgage charge with the Land Registry.

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What can I do to speed up the process?

Keep your identity, address proofs, and building insurance details handy to ensure a smooth process. This will help you quickly provide them to your conveyancer if they ask. Additionally, make sure your conveyancer has a way to reach you easily in case they need to ask any questions. Note that if your situation is more complicated, providing extra information could increase the time and cost of the purchase.

Frequently Asked Questions

Conveyancing is a legal process. It involves the legal and administrative work carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer whenever property or land is bought or sold in the UK 1.

The conveyancing process involves preparing legal documents, dealing with the Land Registry, drawing up contracts, and transferring funds¹.

There are different stages of conveyancing, but the end goal is transferring legal ownership of the land or property – known as the title – into the buyer’s name. The stages include: instructing a solicitor or conveyancer, exchanging contracts, completion and post-completion2.

Instruct a conveyancing solicitorFind the right solicitor or conveyancer and instruct them to start work on the legal side of your purchase.
Exchange contractsThe point at which the sale becomes legally binding.
CompletionThe day on which the buyer takes possession of the property.
Post-completionThe final stage of conveyancing, which includes registering the property with the Land Registry.

The average conveyancing timeline in the UK spans 8-12 weeks3.

The documents needed for conveyancing include: proof of identity, proof of address, mortgage offer (if applicable), property information form and fittings and contents form 4.

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