By Joe Elvin
Article 8 of 13
Learn about why you need a conveyancer or solicitor when buying a house, and follow our tips on how to find the right firm for you.
Once you've found the right home and started making plans for a mortgage, you'll need to get a conveyancer to help process the legal side of things.
Conveyancing can be done by both property solicitors and conveyancers. They will sort out a range of things including dealing with the Land Registry and transferring the cash to buy your house.
This guide tells you exactly what you'll get from a conveyancer and how to find the best one for you.
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What does conveyancing involve?
Conveyancing is a catch-all phrase used to describe the legal work that goes on between your offer being accepted, you and the seller exchanging contracts, and the completion of the sale. Every house purchase and sale is different , in general, a conveyancer will manage things like:
- dealing with the Land Registry
- stamp duty charges and payments
- collecting and transferring money during a house sale
- providing legal advice and recommendations
- drawing up and assessing contracts.
To understand more about each part of the conveyancing process, see our more detailed guides:
Things work a bit differently in Scotland, so if you're buying a home there, check out our guide to Conveyancing in Scotland.
How to choose a solicitor
It's hardly the most exciting part of buying a house, but choosing a solicitor or conveyancer is a really important decision. All solicitors are qualified to do conveyancing, but not all will have experience in this area, so use a legal firm that specialises in property transactions.
No matter what your estate agent tells you, you don't have to use their in-house service or any external companies they recommend. Follow these tips to find the best firm:
- Look for a ‘no-sale, no-fee’ company, as this gives them an incentive to get the job done quickly.
- It's also worth finding a ‘fixed-fee’ service, which means you only pay the amount that's quoted when you sign up. This avoids nasty surprises further down the line.
- Don't make your decision purely based on price. The firm you pick will be responsible for all of the legal work surrounding your property purchase, and if they miss anything or make a mistake, it could end up costing you a lot more than the amount you saved by choosing the cheapest service.
- Try not to use a conveyancer who is very busy; you want someone who can give your case proper attention. If possible tell them your preferred exchange and completion dates and ask if they can meet these.
Check out our full guide to choosing a property solicitor
Conveyancing fees range from around £500 to £1,500, depending on the cost of the property and whether you're just buying, or selling one home and buying another.
The cost will also depend on how complex the property transaction is. For example, if the property is a leasehold, there's more legal work to do.
Some solicitors will charge a flat fee, while others will charge a percentage of the property's value. Always check exactly what the fee covers – some will charge extra if any unforeseen issues arise. Get a few different quotes before choosing who to use.
For a full breakdown of all the legal costs you'll face, see our full guide to conveyancing fees.
- Last updated: December 2016
- Updated by: Joe Elvin