Buying a house is exciting but it can be stressful, too. Learn a little about what conveyancing is and how it works and you’ll feel more confident and in control.
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Conveyancing is the legal process you have to go through when you buy a property, and it’s usually carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer. It begins when you’ve had an offer accepted and finishes on completion, when you collect the keys to your new home.
Your conveyancer or solicitor will usually handle a variety of aspects of the purchase, including:
The Scottish system works a little differently, so if you’re buying there check out our guide to conveyancing in Scotland.
There are three main stages to conveyancing when you’re buying a property:
Once you’ve had an offer accepted on your future home, the first step is to find a solicitor or conveyancer to carry out the legal work on your purchase.
Though some estate agents may try to tell you otherwise, you’re under no obligation to use their in-house service or any companies they recommend.
Solicitors offer a range of legal services – they’re all qualified to do conveyancing, but won’t necessarily specialise in it. If you choose to use a solicitor, it’s best to look for one with plenty of experience in property law.
Conveyancers are trained legal specialists who only offer conveyancing (and sometimes probate) services and so can cost a little less.
It’s best to look for a firm offering a ‘no-move, no-fee’ arrangement so you don’t lose money if your purchase falls through. Also, choose based on quality and reputation as well as price, and try not to use a company that’s too busy to give your case the attention it deserves.
Once you’ve chosen a solicitor or conveyancer, they’ll set to work carrying out all the relevant checks needed to formalise the purchase. This includes arranging property searches to find out about issues such as flood risk and planning restrictions which could affect the property and its value.
Around this time, you’ll also need to organise a property survey . This will give you essential information about the condition of the property and – if problems are found – can be a useful tool for negotiating a lower sale price with your seller.
Your solicitor will use all of the information gathered to finalise the terms of the sale with your seller’s solicitor and draw up a legal contract.
This part of the process often takes a while and can feel disconcerting, but knowing what’s going on behind the scenes can help to take some of the stress away.
When everyone is happy to proceed, both you and the seller will sign and exchange contracts via your solicitors.
At this point you’ll need to pay an exchange deposit, which is usually 10% of the property price.
The exchange of contracts is the time when your purchase becomes legally binding and you can heave a sigh of relief. The contracts will confirm a date for completion, when the property will legally become yours.
On completion day, your solicitor will transfer the remaining funds to your seller’s solicitor and – once they’ve confirmed receipt – you’ll be able to collect the keys to your new home.
Conveyancing fees range from around £500 to £1,500, depending on the cost and area of the property.
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.
Conveyancing is the legal process you have to go through if you’re buying, selling, remortgaging or extending a lease.
Typically, a sale or purchase in England or Wales will take around 8-12 weeks from the moment an offer is accepted to the point of completion.
However, the conveyancing process varies from case to case and it can take longer depending on the complexity of the transaction, the number of people in the chain (if applicable), and how quickly you can respond to queries from your conveyancer.
When you buy or sell a property, conveyancing typically costs between £500 and £1,500. But fees can vary depending on a number of factors including the firm you choose, the type and price of the property in question, and where it’s situated.
See our guide to conveyancing fees to find out more about the costs involved, or use our cost calculator to get a personalised quote with a cost breakdown.
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A conveyancer is a legal professional who specialises in property law and can carry out the legal side of buying or selling a property, remortgaging or extending a lease.
The point at which the transaction (the sale, purchase, remortgage or lease extension) is completed. When buying a property, this is the date that you become the legal owner and get the keys to your new home.
The amount paid by a buyer to a seller when contracts are exchanged to make a property sale legally binding.
A lender is an individual, bank or building society that provides a mortgage loan to a borrower. The borrower will repay the mortgage in regular instalments, usually over a period of five to 30 years.
The property title will provide ownership details and an accurate description of its location and boundaries.