Conveyancing Process Explained: What It Is And How To Go About It
23rd June 2017
Conveyancing is simply the legalities involved with buying or remortgaging your home, and refers to the legal transfer of ownership titles from one party to another. You can’t buy a home (or remortgage) without going through the legal process, so it’s important to understand what conveyancing involves and how to go about it.
Who carries out conveyancing and does it matter who I use?
Conveyancing is carried out by a solicitor, conveyancer, or property lawyer. However, even though all solicitors are qualified in property law, not all have experience in this area. Make sure you get the best service and expertise by choosing a solicitor who specialises in residential property.
There are a number of ways to find a conveyancer. You can search comparison websites online, ask for recommendations, or go to a local solicitor’s branch. Your estate agent is also likely to have recommendations.
You can use any solicitor, although it’s always a good idea to get a few quotes before committing so you can see who’s offering the best-value deal.
Lenders will allow any solicitor that’s on their ‘lender’s panel’, but be aware that some lenders will charge a fee if you go with a conveyancer not on their list. It’s a good idea to choose a solicitor on the lender’s panel even if other you find a cheaper deal elsewhere, as those on the panel tend to be recommended for for their speed and efficiency.
Estate agents often have their own conveyancing partners but are likely to receive commission for recommendations, so they might not recommend the cheapest deal. However, using an estate agent’s solicitor can be beneficial, as everything is then kept in-house, helping speed up the process.
What happens once I’ve found a conveyancer?
Your solicitor will write up their contract before starting the conveyancing process, setting out their fees and terms of engagement. Once you’ve agreed on the terms, your solicitor will get the conveyancing in motion.
You’ll need to find a conveyancer as soon as your offer is accepted on a property, as this is when the conveyancing process begins. It finishes upon completion - when the money is transferred and the keys are handed over.
The conveyancing process: step by step
As conveyancing covers all the legalities of buying a home and remortgaging, there’s a lot to do, which is why it can sometimes hold up the mortgage process. However, be patient - searches can take time, but it’s important to get all the information you need before completion.
Your conveyancer will get in touch with the seller to request a copy of the draft contract to check the property details and sale price.
Next, they’ll organise property searches to reveal anything about the property that wouldn’t come up in a viewing or a survey. Searches usually include water authority searches and environmental searches, as well as checking whether the past tenants have left any financial liabilities.
It’s important to find out if the property is on a floodplain, or if there’s any building work scheduled to start (like a new runway being built nearby), as this could affect the value of the property - not to mention your time living there!
Your conveyancer will let you know of any other costs you’re liable to pay, such as stamp duty.
If you have a mortgage, your solicitor will liaise with your lender to find out if they need any more information, and will arrange the mortgage start date.
At the end of the process, the conveyancer will pay any outstanding fees on your behalf (although you’ll have transferred the money to them beforehand!). They’ll also register you as the new owners of your home with the Land Registry.
How much does conveyancing cost?
The cost of conveyancing varies depending on the individual conveyancer and the value of the property. For the average priced home you can generally expect to pay around £850, although this will be higher if your home is more expensive, and less if it’s cheaper.
It’s possible to agree a fee upfront with some solicitors, but be aware that the cost isn’t guaranteed to stay set - if an unexpected issue arises, you’ll have to cover the cost. Most solicitors will charge their fees at the end of the process. Find out upfront from your conveyancer what you’re likely to pay, and if there are any circumstances in which their fees are likely to rise.
Some conveyancing firms offer a ‘no completion, no fee’ service, which could be a sensible option if you’re not convinced the deal will go through. It’s usually more expensive, but it could pay off if you have any doubts.
Some mortgage lenders offer free conveyancing to customers, but often this comes with a higher rate mortgage. Your mortgage adviser will let you know which works out cheaper.
Can I do the conveyancing myself?
In some circumstances you can do the conveyancing yourself, but it’s lengthy, complicated, and not recommended. Overlook something like a boundary dispute and your sale could fall through. A legal professional wouldn’t let this happen, so it’s worth spending the money to get a solicitor’s experience and expertise.
You won’t be able to do the conveyancing yourself if you’re getting a mortgage, as lenders want to ensure that their interests are protected. Even if you aren’t getting a mortgage, investing in a conveyancer is recommended to take out the hassle and avoid any major mishaps that could put your purchase in jeopardy.