We’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the stages of conveyancing in the UK. In it, we will outline the conveyancing process step-by-step to help you get to grips with what happens, when, throughout the conveyancing timeline.
From instructing a solicitor and property searches to contracts and completion, we’ll cover every single stage of the conveyancing process.
So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and discover the conveyancing timeline from start to finish!
So, what is the conveyancing process? If you want to know a little bit more about the stages of conveyancing then you’ve come to the right place!
The conveyancing process covers the legal and administrative side of transferring a home from one party to another.
It is important that both the seller and the buyer of the property in question has a detailed understanding of the stages of the conveyancing timeline to ensure it runs as smoothly as possible.
The first step in the conveyancing timeline is appointing a property solicitor or conveyancer to help you buy or sell your house.
It is a good idea to choose a conveyancer as soon as you start your property search. This means that when your offer is accepted, you’ll be able to get started straight away.
During this stage of conveyancing, the seller’s solicitor will send them a number of questionnaires to complete. The buyer and their solicitors will then rely on the seller’s responses to decide whether to proceed with the purchase and, if so, on what terms.
These questionnaires will include basic questions about the property, regarding issues such as:
Incorrect or misleading responses at this step in the conveyancing process could result in the buyer being entitled to claim compensation or even refuse to complete the purchase after exchange of contracts.
The next stage in the house conveyancing process involves the completion of the property searches.
During this step in the conveyancing timeline, your solicitor will proceed to complete all pre-contractual searches for the house in question, such as a Local Authority Search and Official Copies search at the Land Registry.
These property searches should reveal any relevant issues involving the local authority which could affect the property. For example, whether or not it has a compulsory purchase order, as well as any current or proposed changes in the area that could impact the property.
These searches can take up to three weeks to be returned. Any problems raised will then be fed back to you with solutions proposed by your solicitor.
If there are resulting queries on the property then this stage of conveyancing can be quite lengthy. Unfortunately, this could hold up the entire conveyancing process.
It is at this stage of the conveyancing timeline that you’ll need to decide whether to have an independent survey of the property.
Regardless of what you decide, your mortgage lender will insist on a type of survey called a Homebuyer’s Report. Many people choose to solely rely on the Homebuyer’s Report to cut the costs of conveyancing, but, in many cases, they should be paying for a full building survey.
So, is it worth paying for a full survey?
There is no straightforward answer to that question. However, the mortgage lender’s survey only really looks into the value of the property and whether or not it will cover the mortgage.
By contrast, a full building survey carried out by a chartered surveyor will help you determine the true value of the property and highlight any structural defects or problems which you should know about before committing to the purchase.
If any problems are found with the property, then these can be reflected in the purchase price and saves you having to fork out restoration costs in the future. So, in the long-run, paying more for a full survey could save you money.
Once the buyer’s solicitors have received the results of the searches, they will create a report of the property.
Step four of the house conveyancing process involves the buyer applying for a mortgage. At this stage of the conveyancing timeline, it is super important that the buyer’s lender is provided with all the correct, requested information.
Once the mortgage lender has received all the necessary information, they will carry out a valuation of the property to ensure it is worth the agreed purchase price and that it is in their best interest to give a mortgage on the property.
When the lender has completed the necessary checks, they should send the buyer’s solicitors a copy of their formal mortgage offer. The conveyancing solicitor will then check the terms and conditions of the mortgage offer to check that everything is as expected.
The next step in the conveyancing process concerns the contract of sale. At this point, the buyer’s solicitor should receive a draft copy of the contract of sale from the other side.
It is in this draft conveyancing document that any prior negotiations on price, such as fixtures, chattels and search results, will be reflected.
Your conveyancer will show you the final version of the contract to make sure you’re happy with all the provisions and to discuss a number of issues, including:
If you agree with everything, a date for exchange can now be set.
Once you’ve signed the contract, the sixth stage in the conveyancing process timeline requires both parties to agree on a date for completion of the sale.
At this step in the conveyancing process, the buyer’s solicitor will request the remaining mortgage funds from the lender and hold these in the firm’s client account ready to be transferred.
In the meantime, they will draft the final purchase deed (TR1 form) ready to send off to the seller’s solicitor.
It is at this stage in the conveyancing timeline that contracts are finally exchanged. This is the point when the deposit money is transferred over to the seller.
It is at this step in the conveyancing process that the contract becomes legally binding. Before this point, the buyer could pull out of the sale without any repercussions. However, if they pull out of the sale after contracts have been exchanged, the buyer will likely lose their deposit.
Nowadays, exchange is routinely completed via a simple phone call between the buyer’s and seller’s solicitors. They will confirm and agree the terms of the contract and the date you have set for completion.
However, this stage of conveyancing is slightly different when there is a chain involved. In this case, one solicitor will give those up the chain a ‘release’ time to come back to them to confirm the exchange later that day. This continues up the chain, until the last legal representative has been reached.
At step eight of the conveyancing process timeline, the buyer’s solicitor will forward the buyer a conveyancing completion statement indicating how much money they owe before the sale is completed.
This conveyancing document will consider a number of costs, including:
Once the buyer receives the conveyancing completion statement, they will have a set period of time to pay the outstanding costs in order for completion to take place.
Congratulations! You’ve made it to the most important step in the entire conveyancing process – completion!
Don’t worry, there isn’t too much for you to do at this point as completion takes place between the solicitors. The buyer’s conveyancer will send across the funds needed to complete the purchase and, in return, the seller’s solicitor will receive the legal transfer document, along with all the other relevant documents for the property.
It is also at this stage in the conveyancing timeline that the seller’s solicitor will authorise the seller or estate agent to hand over the keys to the buyer.
Woohoo! You can finally move into your new home.
The final conveyancing step is moving out of your old property and into your new one.
By this stage, the sellers should have their money and the buyers should have their house. All the conveyancing work isn’t quite complete though – the buyer’s solicitors still have a number of tasks to perform after completion, such as the payment of Stamp Duty Land Tax, the registration of the property at the Land Registry and notification of the freehold owner, if the property is leasehold.
For advice on moving into your new home, read our moving home guide.
Hopefully, after reading our comprehensive, step-by-step guide to the conveyancing process, you have a better idea of what’s involved when buying or selling a house.
This is a typical conveyancing timeline which should give you a clear idea of what happens throughout the process.
However, it is important to bear in mind that the administrative and legal procedures involved in the stages of conveyancing can vary from property to property, having unique expectations and requirements.
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