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Conveyancing Guide

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is a legal process. It involves the legal and administrative work carried out by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer whenever property or land is bought or sold in the UK.

There are different stages of conveyancing, but the end goal is transferring legal ownership of the land or property - known as the title - into the buyer's name. The new ownership will then be registered with the Land Registry.


The role of the conveyancer or solicitor

Depending on whether you are buying or selling, the tasks the solicitor must carry out will be slightly different. 


You're selling your property

If you're selling, your solicitor will:

Draw up the sale contract and provide the buying side with details of what's included in the sale through the property information form and the fixtures and fittings form.

Liaise with the buyer's solicitor to confirm the sale funds are in place and negotiate on the price and on the completion date.

Agree on the exchange of contracts with the buyer's solicitor, confirming that you and the buyer are signing an identical document.

When the sale is complete and your solicitor's office has received the sale proceeds, your solicitor will pay off any outstanding mortgage, deduct their legal fees from what's left, and send the remainder to the seller. 

All of this is done electronically and within a matter of days. After this point, the conveyancing process is complete. 


You're buying the property 

Before starting the conveyancing process, your solicitor will confirm your identification through photo ID and proof of address. Then they will:

Ask to see a mortgage offer from the lender if you are buying with a mortgage. You must also produce evidence you have the deposit funds in place.

Instruct a series of searches that will provide a raft of information about the property and the surrounding area. These searches are carried out by specialist companies and are often the subject of some delay depending on the local authority involved. It's the job of the solicitor to chase up the searches to ensure they get the information as quickly as possible.

Advise you to have a building survey carried out. This will depend on the age and condition of the property.

Negotiate on the sale price and what's to be included in the sale with the selling solicitor before agreeing on a completion date that suits both sides.

Agree on the exchange of contracts with the seller's solicitor, confirming you and the seller are signing an identical document.

On completion day, your solicitor will transfer the sale funds to the selling solicitor and arrange for collection of the keys. Post-completion, their job involves registering you as the new property owner with the Land Registry and paying any Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC on your behalf.

They will bill you for their services and for any outstanding fees and charges. This is a bill that is usually paid within 30 days.


What are the different stages of conveyancing?

For the seller and the buyer of a property it's important to have a complete understanding of the stages of the conveyancing timeline to ensure the process runs as easily as possible.

Step 1: Instruct a solicitor

The conveyancing process starts when an offer has been made and accepted on a property or land. For buyers, they're making an offer; for sellers, they're accepting an offer. 

Buyers should ideally instruct a conveyancing solicitor to act on their behalf as soon as they have seen a property they want to buy. Their solicitor will then negotiate on the sale price with the solicitor working for the seller. As soon as the offer has been accepted, the solicitors on both sides will begin the legal protocol, carrying out the relevant forms and precedents of conveyancing.

Step 2: Finance arrangement

If you are buying with a mortgage and already have an agreement in principle, pass that information on to your solicitor. They must also act on behalf of the lender. To make the process as smooth as possible, all the conveyancing solicitors on Homeward Legal's nationwide panel are also on the lenders' approved panel.

Step 3: Property searches

The buyer's solicitor will start to instruct property searches. These searches are an important part of the conveyancing process flow chart as they allow the solicitor to build a complete picture of the property and the area around it. 

The searches are carried out by specialist firms who request the information from the local council, water, and sewerage companies. Some searches are optional, some are essential. As the optional searches may be charged as extras, the decision to go ahead with any of these lies with the buyer. 

Step 4: Land registry check

The search process can take some time. While this stage is being carried out, another key step in the conveyancing process timeline can be undertaken: confirming with the Land Registry that the seller has the legal title. This means they are the rightful owner and entitled to sell the land or property.


Step 5: Sale inventory

The seller's solicitor will then provide an inventory of what is included in the sale and draw up a draft contract of sale. Both can be the subject of some negotiation. For example, the seller may want to remove all carpets from the property, but the buyer wants them to stay.

Step 6: Completion date agreement

Once all searches have been returned and the draft contract and sale price agreed, the two solicitors will negotiate a completion date. This is the date on which the seller must move out and the buyer receives the keys to their new home. The completion date is often set for a Friday but must be agreed by both sides.

Step 7: Buyer deposit transfer

The buyer must transfer their deposit to their solicitor who will then confirm to the seller that finance is in place.

Step 8: Exchange of contracts

This is usually done by telephone. Each solicitor will confirm their client is signing an identical document. Once contracts are exchanged, neither party can back out without suffering a financial penalty.

Step 9: Final searches and checks

The buyer's solicitor will then carry out final searches on the property, checking with the Land Registry that there have been no changes to the legal title since their first enquiry.

Step 10: Completion

The buyer's solicitor will request that the lender releases the mortgage funds, and the money (including your deposit) will be transferred to the seller's solicitor on completion day. The selling solicitor will pay off any outstanding mortgage and confirm that the sale is complete. The seller must hand over the keys to the property and move out. The buyer will then receive the keys.

Post-completion conveyancing protocol

After completion, there are still a couple of legal steps to take. The buyer's solicitor will pay any outstanding Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC on the buyer's behalf. This must be done within 14 days of completion. 

The new owner will be registered with the Land Registry and new title deeds reflecting the new title issued.

Whether you're the seller or the buyer, it's worth having a clear idea of these different stages of the conveyancing process. It can help you understand your solicitor's actions and allow you to make decisions about your sale or purchase.


What forms and documents do I need to be aware of?

As well as the conveyancing timeline, you'll also need to know about the forms and documents you need to complete and produce. They vary depending on whether you are a buyer or seller.


What both buyer and seller must do as soon as the process is underway is provide proof of their ID to their solicitor. This is always a photo ID, usually a passport or driving licence, and confirmation of your address through a bank statement or utility bill from the last three months. Solicitors are obliged to confirm your ID to meet money laundering regulations.


You're the seller

Here's a look at what the seller needs to provide:


Title deeds

You are unlikely to hold your title deeds as these are now a digital record at the Land Registry. However, you may have a copy of the registered title from when you originally purchased the property. If so, you should hand this over to your solicitor to make the conveyancing process easier.


Copy of the lease

Where you are selling a leasehold property, give your solicitor a copy of the lease that details the terms of your legal relationship with the freeholder (landowner). Your solicitor will request a management information pack from the freeholder or management company that will detail all service and maintenance charges associated with the lease.

Property information form

Your solicitor will ask you to complete this form, which details practical information such as the location of gas and electricity meters, water stop cock, and the property boundaries.

Fittings and contents form

This form details everything that is and isn't included in the sale. For example, as the seller, you may decide to leave the white goods for inclusion in the sale. Complete this form and return it to your legal team as quickly as possible as any delay could derail the process.

Energy Performance Certificate

Every home that goes on the market in England and Wales must have an up-to-date Energy Performance Certificate (EPC). This form details a building's energy efficiency and highlights where cost-effective energy savings can be made. Check if your property has a valid EPC here.


Where you are selling a home built within the last decade, you may have an up-to-date new home warranty. This is an insurance policy against any issues with the construction and can be passed on to the buyer. For example, the NHBC Buildmark warranty lasts 10 years. You should also provide copies of any warranties relating to renovation or electrical work, plus guarantees on the likes of windows or roof repairs.


You're the buyer

Here's a look at what the buyer needs to provide:

Mortgage offer

Where you need a mortgage to buy a property, you must have a valid offer from a lender. Your solicitor will need a copy of the mortgage offer before beginning the conveyancing process.

Proof of deposit

You must show your solicitor you have the deposit funds by producing an up-to-date bank statement.


Once contracts have been exchanged on the property, your lender will instruct you to get buildings insurance on your new home. This cover must begin on completion day. Send your solicitor a copy of the insurance policy when you receive it.

Title report

Once your sale is complete, your solicitor should provide you with a copy of the title report. This will show you as the owner and will also include details from the property information form.


If you have bought a new build property, or it was built within the last decade, you should receive a copy of any new home warranty, such as the NHBC Buildmark. 

Your solicitor should also send you any warranties that relate to renovation or electrical work that's been carried out, along with guarantees for things like replacement windows and roof repairs.

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