Moving house is exciting but it can be complex, too, especially when you’re selling your house and buying a new one at the same time. Understand the conveyancing part of the process with our step-by-step guide.
When you're buying a property and selling one at the same time, coordinating with the vendors and your buyer is crucial.
Using a reliable and experienced conveyancer or solicitor will help you to keep a handle on things, and understanding what happens at each stage of the process should make things less stressful.
Most home movers line up their sale and purchase so that they can move out of their old home and into their new one on the same day.
There are three main stages to conveyancing when you’re moving home.
When you’ve accepted an offer on your home and found a new one to move to, you’ll need to find solicitor or licensed conveyancer to carry out the legal work on your move.
Conveyancers are property law specialists who only offer conveyancing (and sometimes probate) services. Solicitors offer a wider range of legal services than conveyancers and, as such, can sometimes cost a little more. If you opt for a solicitor, it’s important to choose one who’s got plenty of experience in conveyancing transactions.
In the period when you’re preparing to exchange contracts, your solicitor will work with you to provide essential information about your home to your buyer. You’ll need to fill out a number of forms about your own property, and respond promptly – and honestly – to queries from your buyer’s solicitor.
At the same time, your solicitor will conduct checks and arrange searches on the property you’re buying to find out about issues affecting the building and local area.
They’ll also send additional queries through to your seller’s solicitor if they need to know anything else. This information, together with your property survey, should help to give you a clear picture of your soon-to-be new home.
Your solicitor will use all of the information gathered to draw up legal contracts for both your sale and your purchase, ready to exchange with your buyer and vendors.
This part of the conveyancing process often takes a while – especially when you’re in a chain – but knowing what’s happening behind the scenes and what’s expected of you at each stage should make things less stressful.
Learn more about what’s involved in preparing to exchange contracts
When all the questions have been answered and everyone’s happy to go ahead, you’ll be able to exchange contracts.
If possible, it’s best to try and exchange contracts on both your sale and purchase on the same day. This way, you’ll completely avoid the risk of having to move out with nowhere to go to, or being lumped with two mortgages at once.
You, your buyer and your seller will each sign contracts confirming the conditions of the respective sales, which your solicitors will then exchange. At this point, you’ll also need to pay an exchange deposit for the property you’re buying – typically 10% of its price. Once this has been done, your move becomes legally binding.
The contracts will include a completion date. This is the day when the ownership of your current home will be legally transferred to your buyer, and you’ll become the owner of your new home.
On completion day, your buyer’s solicitor will transfer their funds to your solicitor and in turn your solicitor will transfer the remaining funds to your seller’s solicitor. You’ll need to hand over the keys to your estate agent, ready for your buyer to collect. Once your seller’s solicitor confirms that they’ve received your funds, you’ll be able to collect the keys to your new home.
When you’re moving home, conveyancing can cost anywhere from £750 to £2,500. The exact amount you’ll pay depends on the solicitor or conveyancer you choose and the type and location of the properties involved.
It’s important to remember that cheapest is not always best. Conveyancing is complicated, especially when you’re juggling a sale and a purchase at the same time. It’s essential to choose a reputable firm or individual that you can trust to do a good job.
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 property chain occurs when at least one vendor is selling their home to a buyer who also has property to sell and, as a result, there are a number of linked transactions depending on each other.
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.
If you own a property on a freehold basis, you own it along with the land it stands on. As a freeholder you will have full responsibility for the maintenance and repairs of the property.
If you own a leasehold property, you have a right to occupy the land or property with certain conditions in place, but it’s technically owned by the freeholder.
Find out more about the difference between leasehold and freehold properties.
Stamp duty, also known as stamp duty land tax (SDLT), is a tiered tax charged on residential properties in England and Wales with a purchase price of more than £125,000 (£40,000 for second homes and buy-to-let properties).
Use our cost calculator to find out exactly how much stamp duty you'll have to pay.