Legal Guides

We use plain and simple English to give you an overview of the most common areas of law.

A quick guide to the conveyancing process

Buying a house isn’t a quick and easy process. There’s a lot to think about, including conveyancing – what is it? Who does it? What’s the process? It’s actually a big part of becoming a homeowner and we’ve broken it down and answered any questions you might have.   

For those who don’t know, conveyancing is the preparation involved during the legal transfer of ownership of a property. The conveyancing process starts from the moment your house offer is accepted up until you receive the keys.

Who does the conveyancing?

Usually a solicitor, property lawyer or licensed conveyancer will conduct the process. If opting for solicitors, check they are specialised in residential property transactions.

What is the first step?

Your solicitor / conveyancer will draw up a contract consisting of the charges and deposits that are required. They will then write to the seller’s solicitor to request a copy of the draft contract and confirm any other details.

Legal work

After your solicitor has raised any queries or requirements with the other party’s solicitor, you’ll need to read through the completed documents and flag any concerns. One specific point to look out for is whether it’s a leasehold or freehold; a leasehold could raise problems further down the line.

Property searches

Simply viewing a property with an estate agent doesn’t give you a full insight and there may be certain things you won’t be able to see. During the conveyancing process, a full property search will be made to check if there is anything you need to be concerned about. From local authority plans, to an environmental search, to checking flood risks.

Conveyancing for your mortgage

Once your solicitor has received a copy of the mortgage offer and gone through the conditions, you will need to get a valuation on behalf of the mortgage provider. This allows the lender to check that the property you’re buying offers sufficient security of the loan.

Signing of contracts

Before signing anything, your solicitor should make sure that:

  • All enquiries have been addressed and you’re fully satisfied
  • The fittings and fixtures included are up to your expectations
  • Both parties have agreed on a completion date
  • Arrangements have been made for the deposit to be transferred into your solicitor’s account, ensuring it’s been cleared in time for the exchange.

Exchanging contracts

The exchange of contracts usually takes place over the phone, with each solicitor reading out the contracts to ensure they are the same. Once this has been done, you will officially be in a legally binding contract, meaning:

  • The seller has to sell the property to you; failure to do this will mean you have the option to sue
  • The seller can’t accept any other offers
  • If you don’t follow through with the purchase, you will lose your deposit and possibly more if the deposit was less than 10%.

Between exchange and completion

Next, your solicitor will lodge an interest, meaning the deeds of the property are frozen for 30 days.  During this time, you will pay the seller and lodge your application to the Land Registry which will transfer the deeds into your name.

On completion day

Once the seller’s solicitor has confirmed they have received the payment, a date can be arranged for completion. The seller then hands over the keys to the estate agent, ready for you to collect.

After completion

It’s now time for your solicitor to tie up the loose ends, including:

  • Paying Stamp Duty
  • Sending legal documents to the Land Registry
  • Sending a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender
  • If the property is a leasehold, notifying the freeholder
  • Sending you bill for their payment

This article was contributed by FBC Manby Bowdler Residential Property Solicitors

DISCLAIMER: This article should not be regarded as constituting legal advice in relation to particular circumstances, and is merely a general comment on the relevant topic. If specific advice is required in connection with any of the matters covered in this article, please speak to FBC Manby Bowdler Residential Property Solicitors directly.

Published on 24th October 2018
(Last updated 7th May 2021)