Conveyancing is the legal side of selling or buying a property. It involves transferring ownership from the seller to the buyer, and involves the legal tasks that are part of buying or selling a property.

The tasks they need to complete vary depending on whether they’re representing the seller or the buyer. There is usually more work required by the buyer, so the buyer will pay a higher fee than the seller. For the purpose of this guide, we only include the tasks relevant to sellers. This includes:
Writing the sale contract: Your conveyancer will examine the draft contract and supporting documents. Any queries will be raised with the seller’s conveyancer. You must to go through the forms the seller has completed. Raise any queries or concerns with your solicitor.
Managing the collection and transfer of funds: Your conveyancer is responsible for looking after money matters from start to finish. Your solicitor will Pay Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf, send documents to the Land Registry, send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender, notify the freeholder if the property is leasehold, send you a bill.

How long does the conveyancing process take?

On average the conveyancing process can take 2-3 months to complete. This can change depending on factors such as where your property is and whether your buyer requires a mortgage.

Choose a conveyancing professional with a good reputation for communication and personal service. To reduce delays, it’s usually a good idea to appoint a legal professional at around the same time you choose your estate agent. Estate agents often have close working relationships with conveyancing solicitors and can recommend a preferred partner.

Choosing the Right Conveyancer

To choose your Conveyancing Solicitor, compare both fees and the quality of service. When selling your home, you want the legal process managed as quickly as possible. 

Should I Use A Conveyancer Or A Solicitor?

Solicitors in England and Wales should be registered with the Law Society and regulated by the Solicitors Regulations Authority (SRA). Conveyancers need to be licensed and regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC). Scotland and Northern Ireland have their own societies; the Law Society of Scotland and the Law Society of Northern Ireland.

Solicitors
All solicitors are fully qualified to do conveyancing but not all have a great deal of experience. If you do go down this route, you’re always better to look for one that specialises in property transactions.

The main benefit of choosing a solicitor is their ability to deal with any complex legal issues that may arise. This is also why solicitors are generally more expensive than conveyancers.

Here’s what you need to look out for:

  • Your conveyancing solicitor must be regulated and insured, so that you’re protected if you discover any major legal defects following completion of the sale.
  • Solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulatory Authority (SRA) – if your solicitor makes any mistakes you can complain to the Authority and seek compensation via their indemnity insurance.
  • Check that they’re a member of the Law Society of England and Wales or Law Society of Scotland.
Conveyancers
Conveyancers are property specialists but many aren’t able to deal with complex legal matters should any problems arise.

Look out for:

  • Your chosen conveyancer must be regulated and insured so that you will be protected if any major legal issues arise during the completion of the sale. As with all legal professionals, you’re within your rights to make a complaint to the Solicitors Regulatory Authority who will assess your complaint and issue compensation should the need arise.
  • They can be a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, and must be members of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
  • Determine that they have a good reputation and track record for service. There’s nothing more frustrating or damaging to a sale than bad communication.

When do I Instruct a Solicitor or Conveyancer?

The best time to choose a solicitor or conveyancer involved is around the time you choose your estate agent. Your conveyancer won’t act until a formal offer is made but it’s handy to have one on hand.

Preparation can speed up the conveyancing process. There are several standard forms and pieces of information that every conveyancer will need from you to get started. Finding and filling out the likes of a Property Information form (TA6) and a Fittings and Contents form (TA10) can put you ahead and help move things along nicely.

How It Works

Finding a good conveyancing solicitor will make the process of buying and selling your property run much more smoothly. Here is a quick overview of the process as a whole. 

Once you’ve selected your solicitor or conveyancer, they will request info on your property, conduct identity checks, assess your mortgage status and acquire the title deeds You will be asked to fill out and return the following forms:

  • A Property Information form (TA6): this is a general questionnaire and includes information on boundaries, disputes and complaints, known proposed developments in the area, building works, council tax, utilities, sewerage, contact details. If you do not own the freehold you should give more information on either the leasehold (TA 7) or the commonhold (TA9)
  • Fittings and Contents form (TA10): provides details of which fittings and fixtures you would like to include with the property. 
  • Completion Information and Undertakings (TA13): Includes finalisation details such as arrangements to hand over the keys, how and where you will complete, and ensuring that the house is free of all mortgages and liability claims.
  • Seller’s Leasehold Information Form (if your property is leasehold).

You must fill these forms out truthfully and to the best of your knowledge; if it later transpires that you have not been fully truthful you could be sued for compensation.

Preparing Contracts

Your solicitor or conveyancer will draw up a contract that outlines all the details of your property and it’s sale . It will include information on:

  • The sale price
  • The property boundaries
  • Which fixtures and fittings (like carpets and kitchen units) are included
  • Any legal restrictions or rights, like public footpaths or rules about using the property
  • Any planning restrictions
  • Services to the property, like drainage and gas
  • When the sale will complete
Offer Accepted & Contract Reviewed

If a buyer makes an offer on your property, your estate agent will let you know. If you accept the offer, your conveyancer/solicitor can begin their work.

At this stage it’s all about the buyer’s team assessing the property and contract details. From conducting searches to sorting out mortgage offers, the buyer’s conveyancer will work through the terms and let you know when they’re happy and ready to proceed.

Contracts Exchanged

You and the buyer/seller will agree on a date and time to exchange contracts at any time on any given day. Your conveyancer will exchange contracts for you. Usually done by both solicitors/conveyancers reading out the contracts over the phone (which is recorded) to make sure they are identical.  They are immediately sent to one another in the post.

If you do not complete the purchase, you will lose your deposit. If the deposit was less than 10% you will owe the seller more. The seller must sell or you can sue them

Any deeds are now transferred to your conveyancer/solicitor alongside a rundown of any charges such as your conveyancer’s fee, any outstanding loans or mortgage amounts to settle.

The completion date is also set in stone now so you can get busy with packing and start things moving.

Completion

Your solicitor/conveyancer will confirm that money has changed hands and that the property now legally belongs to your buyer.

Your conveyancer will oversee the funds transfer and take care of any final details. This includes:

  • Registering ownership with the Land Registry
  • Paying off any mortgages or expenses associated with the sale
  • Transferring the title deeds
  • Arranging for any keys to be delivered to your buyer.

We analyse the performance of every active estate agent in the UK and using basic information about your home, we provide you with a list of agents that cover your postcode and how they perform against each other.