The Conveyancing Process - Step by Step Guide

Buying or selling property can be a confusing and stressful time. To assist you we have prepared a step by step guide to conveyancing to explain the different steps and stages involved in the conveyancing process.

The Conveyancing Process

The three main stages are listed below, please click to see the specific steps involved in each stage.

  1. The Buyer and Seller have to agree a price and instruct their respective solicitors to start the conveyancing process. Where Estate Agents are involved they will do this and will circulate the transaction details to all the interested parties. The Estate Agent or Seller will organise an Energy Performance Certificate if one has not already been commissioned.
  2. The Seller’s solicitors will have the Seller to complete a “Property Information Form” and “Fittings and Contents Form” which will be sent to the Buyer’s solicitors with the contract.
  3. The Seller’s solicitors will prepare and send the contract to the Buyer’s solicitors together with details of the title of the property and copies of any important documents that are referred to in the registers. The Buyer’s solicitors may raise some specific enquiries of the Seller’s solicitors arising from the documents received or the information within the Property Information form.
  4. If the Buyer is obtaining a mortgage they will make an application to the Mortgage Company and will need a firm written offer of mortgage before he can proceed to exchange of contracts. The Buyer must have their finance in place (including any mortgage offer) before we can exchange. The buyer will need to have a signed Mortgage Deed which secures the Mortgage on the Property.
  5. As the Buyer takes the property with any defects it may have, they should obtain a survey on the property before exchanging contracts. In practice this is often done by the Mortgage Company but the Buyer should consider whether this is sufficient for their needs and if there needs to be a more detailed survey (which can often be arranged through the Mortgage Company on payment of an additional fee).
  6. The Buyer’s solicitors will carry out a Local Search and such other searches (e.g. Water searches) as they deem appropriate for a particular property. The additional searches usually depend on the type of property being purchased and its situation for example in a coal mining area a mining search will be required.
  7. If the Buyer has a sale and there is a “chain” of transactions, the same process is carried out for every property in the chain. Exchange of contracts cannot take place until everybody in the chain is ready to exchange and all parties have arranged their finance.
  1. Once all the above steps have been carried out and all the parties in the transaction or chain of transactions have agreed a completion date the solicitors will exchange contracts. This is normally carried out by the solicitors by telephone. If a client has a sale and a purchase the solicitor ensures that exchange of contracts on both transactions is simultaneous and normally with the same completion date which has been agreed previously by the parties.
  2. Upon exchange of contracts a deposit (normally 10% of the purchase price) is paid. If a Buyer is in turn selling his own property the deposit from the sale is usually used in connection with the purchase and no further deposit is required from him.
  3. The Completion Date is normally 2-4 weeks from exchange of contracts and is agreed by the parties through their solicitors before exchange of contracts. The Completion Date has to be a weekday and is normally the date on which the parties move.
  4. Between exchange of contracts and completion the Buyer’s solicitors will prepare the Transfer of the property which is approved by the Seller’s solicitors and then signed by the parties.
  5. Where the Buyer is obtaining a mortgage the Buyer’s solicitor will send a report on the title of the property to the Mortgage Company in accordance with detailed instructions supplied by them and will apply to the Mortgage Company for the Mortgage Advance which they will normally receive the day before completion. Frequently the Mortgage Company will have requirements which their solicitor has to comply.
  6. The Buyer’s solicitors will make final Land Registry and Land Charges searches and obtain any balance of moneys required from the Buyer to complete.
  1. On Completion the Buyer’s solicitors send the Seller’s solicitors the balance of the purchase money by telegraphic transfer. If there is a “chain” of transactions the parties must wait for the monies to pass down the line between the respective solicitors’ banks.
  2. Once the Seller’s solicitor has received the purchase monies he will release the key which is normally held by the estate agent.
  3. The Seller’s solicitors will send the Buyer’s solicitors the transfer of the property to the Buyer together with any other title deeds or documents relating to the property.
  4. The Seller’s solicitors will redeem any mortgage or mortgages on the property and account to the Seller for the proceeds of sale.
  5. The Buyer’s solicitors will send any stamp duty to the Inland Revenue together with a “Land Transaction Return” relating to the property.
  6. The Buyer’s solicitors will receive a certificate from the Inland Revenue and will then proceed to register the Buyer’s title at the Land Registry.
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Our Services include:

  • Sales
  • Purchases
  • Transfer of Equity
  • Remortgages

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How long does a typical conveyancing transaction take?

This is by far one of the most frequently asked questions. In most cases the conveyancing process for the purchase of a home can take between eight and twelve weeks. These time frames can and will alter depending on the circumstances that surround the purchase.

There can be many unknowns associated with conveyancing and this makes it particularly hard for a Solicitor to pinpoint an exact time and date for the house purchase to complete.

The team at L P Law will endeavour to ensure there are no unnecessary delays to the process and if there is, they guarantee to keep you informed of any such development with their transaction.

Q. At what point do I need to appoint a Solicitor?

As soon as you have had an offer accepted on your property you are ready to appoint a Solicitor.

Q. I am buying a property, can I appoint the same Solicitor that my seller has chosen?

Usually not. There are certain rules in place that prevent the buyer and seller appointing the same Solicitor. This is because of what is known as a ‘conflict of interest’.

Q. Do I need to obtain an Energy Performance Certificate?

There are exceptions but if you are marketing the property you will require an EPC.

Q. I am buying a property with my partner. We are not married, are there any considerations?

Your Solicitor will be able to advise you on the implications but there are 2 ways in which a property can be held. You can hold as tenants in common which is where you hold a share of the property, say 50%, and upon the death of that person he or she can pass it to another person. The other method by which one can hold a property is beneficial joint tenants. This is where a property is held jointly. Upon the death of one of them the other automatically becomes the owner.

Alternatively a Deed of Trust can be drawn up setting out the terms on which you hold the property. We are able to advise you on this and prepare the Deed for your approval.

Q. How does the process work if my Solicitor is at opposite ends of the country?

This is another one of the most frequently asked questions that we get asked. In most cases, the process is no different than using a local solicitor. Everything can now be dealt with by post, e mail and telephone. The process has changed over the last 15 or so years enabling you to appoint a Solicitor with whom you have no face to face contact.

Q. What are disbursements and why are they added into my quote?

A disbursement is a payment in relation to the process and is payable to a third party. For example, if you are buying a land registry fee will need to be paid to the land registry. This is their fee for registering the property.

More information can be found on our conveyancing expenses page.

Q. Is a survey required on the property I am buying?

It is advisable to obtain a survey. If you are taking out a mortgage your lender may wish to procure one. It is worth checking what type of survey they will be completing as this may not be a full structural survey.

Q. Do I need searches and which ones?

If you are taking out a mortgage your lender will require various searches to be purchased. These are usually a local search and a water & drainage search however, if you are buying in a coal or tin mining area an additional search would be required. There are other searches which may be relevant depending on the area in which you are buying. If you are not taking a mortgage to buy the property they are optional and it is therefore your choice as to whether you have them. We of course do strongly advise that they are purchased as they may reveal matters that will impact on your ownership of the property.

More information on searches can be found on our conveyancing expenses page.

Q. Will I have to pay stamp duty on my purchase?

If you are purchasing a property for over £125,000 then yes. How much you will have to pay will depend on how much you are paying for the property. Stamp Duty is worked out as a percentage of the property purchase price.

The rates of Stamp Duty payable on the property as as follows:

Property or lease premium or transfer value – SDLT Rate
Up to £125,000 – Zero
The next £125,000 (the portion from £125,001 to £250,000) – 2%
The next £675,000 (the portion from £250,001 to £925,000) – 5%
The next £575,000 (the portion from £925,001 to £1.5 million) – 10%
The remaining amount (the portion above £1.5 million) – 12%

If the property you are buying will not be the only property you own after completion, such as Buy to Let properties, then an additional 3% is payable on all purchases over £40,000.

For more information on Stamp Duty Land Tax, please see our conveyancing expenses page or visit the Governments guidance pages on Stamp Duty:

Q. What happens on Exchange of Contacts?

Exchange of contracts is when the date for completion is fixed. The process of exchanging contracts is usually a telephone call between both sets of Solicitors.

Q. What are the final stages of completion?

Completion is the date when the money transfers occur and the keys are given to the buyer. As with exchange of contracts you do not need to attend the Solicitor’s office.