What is conveyancing? | moneyfacts.co.uk
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What is conveyancing?

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Michelle Monck

Michelle Monck

Consumer Finance Expert

At a glance

  • Conveyancing is the legal process to transfer the ownership of a property from one person to another.
  • Conveyancing starts once you have an offer accepted on a property and ends when the sale is completed.
  • You can choose your conveyancer based on service standards and speed using the service below.
Find out more

What is conveyancing?

Whether you are buying, selling or remortgaging, you will need a conveyancer to oversee all the legal requirements and ensure your transaction successfully completes. Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from one person to another, and a property sale can’t complete without it. 

 

How much does conveyancing cost?

The cost of a conveyancing transaction will depend on a number of variables, including the cost of the house you are buying or selling, whether the property is freehold or leasehold, and the complexity of your transaction.
This may include, for example, whether you are buying a second home, a buy-to-let, using a Help to Buy equity loan or ISA, utilising a Right to Buy or shared ownership scheme, buying a new build property, using a gifted deposit or whether you are redeeming an existing mortgage. If your transaction involves any of these, the conveyancer will need to complete additional work, over and above the standard transaction legal work, all of which should be quoted accordingly at the outset of the case.
For a typical residential property purchase, conveyancing services cost an average of between £850 to £1,500  , though this is by no means a given. This amount includes charges for the solicitor’s time (including calls and letters), as well as searches and Land Registry fees, but won’t include things like stamp duty.

 

What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer handles the legal and administrative work involved in the transfer of property ownership, from undertaking the initial searches to checking the contracts and liaising with the mortgage lender, and will make sure things like stamp duty payments and Land Registry requirements are taken care of. 

 

What are the steps in conveyancing?

The conveyancing process begins when you’ve had an offer accepted on a property and ends when the transaction completes. One of the first steps is to conduct the required searches, including those with local authorities and utility companies. This will ensure that there’s no unexpected building work due to take place, for example, and will reveal things like whether the property is in a flood risk area or comes with any financial liabilities from past inhabitants.
Then they’ll look at the incurred or disbursement costs involved, such as stamp duty, and will check the contracts drawn up by the seller’s solicitor, making sure there aren’t any boundary disputes or similar. They’ll liaise with your mortgage lender (if applicable) to make sure that everything is in place to proceed, and the final step is paying any related fees and registering you as the new owner. 

 

Why do you need conveyancing?

You need conveyancing because, quite simply, you can’t buy a property without it! Conveyancing is needed on all types of housing transaction – buying, selling and remortgaging – and while it may technically be possible to do everything yourself, the legal and administrative complexity involved means that, unless you’re an expert, you should really leave it to the experts. 
Then there’s the fact that most mortgage lenders will require you to instruct a solicitor, and with good reason. The whole process is designed to ensure that the buyer secures the title to the property, together with all the rights that accompany it, ensuring that they’re notified of any restrictions ahead of the purchase. Problems that could arise include property boundary issues, improperly registered paperwork and even potential fraud, so having an expert on your side in such cases can be vital. 

 

What documents do you need for conveyancing?

To buy the new property, you’ll need to provide proof of funds and/or the mortgage offer, together with two forms of identification to show proof of identity and your current address.

To sell your current property, you’ll need the identification documents again, together with property title deeds (though these tend to be digital), TA10 fittings and contents form, TA6 property information form, any additional documents referenced in the property information form (such as building regulations, boiler service records and guarantees for new appliances), warranties (if the house is less than 10 years old) and an energy performance certificate (EPC). If the property is leasehold you’ll also need the Management Information Pack and a copy of the lease.

Many of these forms will be provided for you to fill in, and remember to keep track of insurance and survey documents too.

Key criteria for choosing a conveyancer 

Ask for a full breakdown of fees

Find out their fee structure, e.g. is it a fixed fee? Provide as much information as possible up front about your transaction, so the conveyancer knows to include any additional costs to cover the variables from a standard transaction. Are the additional costs fixed too? Make sure to understand this at the outset.

Check their credentials

Going online to check a conveyancer’s credentials is a good place to start. If a firm has a TrustPilot account, you will be able to see their track record for yourself and read recent reviews from customers. 

Mortgage lender panel

If you are using a mortgage, you will need to check that the firm is on your mortgage lender’s panel. If they are not, they may wish to register with that lender to complete your transaction, but registration may slow down the process.

 

Dedicated case handler

Choosing a firm who provides you with a dedicated case handler will mean you can get hold of them via email or telephone whenever you have a query. 

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Moneyfacts.co.uk has appointed Optimus as our preferred conveyancing provider

 

Smoother, faster and fairer conveyancing.

Call 0330 036 6729 or find out more.

Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am to 5.30pm excluding bank holidays

Calls may be monitored for regulatory purposes.

 

About Optimus

Optimus operate a panel of top-rated UK solicitors who have agreed to deliver their legal work for fixed, fair and competitive prices. We manage the performance of our solicitors against agreed timelines.

Why choose Optimus?

Proven track record

Optimus only use top-rated solicitors who have a continuous proven track record of delivering a high-quality service against agreed timelines all of which are monitored via our technology platform. All of Optimus panel solicitors available to you are 4 or 5-star rated on Trustpilot.

No completion, no legal fee

If your transaction falls through, for whatever reason, you will not pay for legal fees. In fact, you do not pay for your legal fees until your transaction has successfully completed.

Competitive fixed prices

Optimus’ panel of top-rated solicitors have all agreed to fixed prices for their legal work, which means you are getting a great service, at a transparent and competitive price.

Real-time case tracking

Optimus technology platform is linked to the solicitor’s case management system, which means they can track the progress of your case and provide case progression on your behalf.

Performance guaranteed

Optimus solicitors are incentivised, regulated and performance-managed against agreed timelines to deliver the legal work.

Answers are always on hand

If you have any queries at any point throughout the transaction, you can contact the Optimus service team for the answers.

Conveyancing fees and costs FAQs

What are conveyancing fees? 

Conveyancers split their fees into two sections: legal fees (this is the basic charge for the work they do) and disbursements (charges for any third-party costs or work outside the standard transaction). 

Why does the cost of conveyancing vary?

There are numerous elements that will affect your conveyancing fees, such as:
• The value of a property, with the legal fees varying accordingly.
• The tenure of the property. If the property is leasehold, then there will be an additional fixed fee for dealing with the property management company.
• Disbursements. Third-party costs and any additional work outside of the standard transaction may affect your quote. 

What are the potential disbursements that can be incurred and how much do they cost?

The most common disbursements incurred are search packs, telegraphic transfer fees, Land Registry fees, buy-to-let, leasehold, transfer of equity and Help to Buy repayments. 

When will I need to pay a solicitor? 

Money is typically spent in three stages when buying property or land:
  • Starting the transaction. You will be asked by your conveyancer to pay up front for the property search and any other third-party costs which may be needed to start the transaction process.
  • The deposit. When it is time to exchange contracts, you will normally be required to pay 10% of the purchase price  . Once the contracts have been exchanged, you are then legally bound to complete the purchase on the day of completion. If your deposit is only 5% then contract is amended to accept a lower deposit. These funds are held in a client account by the solicitor until the completion goes through, after this it is sent to the seller.
  • Completion. On the day of completion you will be required to put up the rest of the funds. As this needs to be sent through your bank, it can take some time to go through. Normally, you can collect the keys to your new property after midday once the process has been completed.

Do you pay conveyancing fees up front?

As mentioned above, you’ll be asked to pay for the property search and any relevant third-party costs upfront. You may also have to pay a deposit for the conveyancer’s services, which is typically around 10% of their overall fee. The remaining balance will be paid on completion of the sale. 

How long does conveyancing take FAQs

How long does conveyancing take?

The length of the process varies between each case. The average time can be around six to eight weeks to completion, however this depends on multiple factors including the complexity of the case and the number of transactions in the property chain. The shorter the chain, the quicker the transaction can be, but there’s no guarantee.

How long do conveyancing searches take?

Searches are a key part of the conveyancing process, and typically take two to three weeks to complete (though local authority searches can take longer depending on the area). However, bear in mind that the results of a search may prompt your conveyancer to make additional enquiries, which could add to the overall time taken. 

Other conveyancing FAQs

What is the rate of stamp duty?

The rate will depend on the purchase price of the new property. Stamp duty will be shown as a calculation on your quote, however you can also calculate how much stamp duty will be using our calculator.

Do I need to have a survey?

If you are taking out a mortgage your lender will require a valuation, but this is not a survey and is for the lender’s benefit, not yours. It is always sensible to have your own independent survey. 

When do I get the deeds to my property?

Nowadays there are no “deeds” as such as the legal documents of title are held electronically at the Land Registry. However, there are useful supporting documents which you should keep safe as they are required when the property is sold again.

Is it better to use a local solicitor for conveyancing? Will I need to see them in person to hand over my ID or sign documentation?

A common misconception of choosing a conveyancer is that you need to use a local firm. That is no longer the case. Modern conveyancers are set up to handle the transaction without the need to see you in person and offer varying degrees of online interaction with their own case management systems, which can provide visibility over the transaction.
They should therefore be able to action any documentation or requests either over the phone, by post, in writing or via their online portals, which means they can be located anywhere in the country, so you’re free to choose your solicitor based on service rather than location. 

What is a conveyancing “chain”?

To avoid the risk and cost of owning two houses at once, people usually elect to buy and sell simultaneously. A number of linked transactions therefore arise, each dependent on the other, and exchange of contracts must take place simultaneously in all transactions; this is known as the chain, and means that the speed of progress is dictated by the slowest link in that chain.

When do I know the property is mine?

Once contracts are exchanged a legally binding agreement arises and neither party can back out. At this point, the new property is yours. Until that point either party may withdraw from the transaction.

Note

The conveyancing service is provided by Optimus. Optimus is incorporated and registered in England and Wales with company number: 05524369 whose registered office is at 5-7 Abbey Court Eagle Way, Sowton Industrial Estate, Exeter EX2 7HY (Optimus).

Optimus manages a panel of solicitors and conveyancing firms and any contractual relationship you hold will be with your selected firm.

 

 

 

 

Disclaimer

This information is intended solely to provide guidance and is not financial advice. Moneyfacts will not be liable for any loss arising from your use or reliance on this information. If you are in any doubt, Moneyfacts recommends you obtain independent financial advice.

 

 

Get in touch

If you choose to go ahead with one of Optimus’ solicitors, you will be assigned a case handler at that firm who will be responsible for working on your case. However, if you have any queries at any point through the transaction, their service team is always on hand to help.
Our office hours are 8am-5.30pm, Monday to Friday. 
Contact Optimus on 0330 036 6729 or email us.

 

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