Conveyancing is the legal process where a trained solicitor transfers ownership of a property from one party to another. A licensed conveyancer will act on behalf of the buyer, guaranteeing them ownership of the property and the land it covers. 

 
The conveyancing process can be confusing for homeowners.
 
It's a process that encompasses all the administrative and legal work that has to be carried out to ensure that the purchase or sale of your home is legally valid. 
 
 

My Big Move will help you to make sure:
 
  • The conveyancing solicitor you choose is trustworthy and dependable.
  • That you’re familiar with the costs involved and don’t get overcharged for this service.
  • Whether you think it’s possible to save some costs by carrying out your own conveyancing.
  • When to arrange the handover of the keys to your new home.

What is Conveyancing?

What does it involve?

Conveyancing is the word used to cover all of the administrative and legal work that’s involved when ownership of a house or property is transferred from one party to another.  
 
The process is usually carried out by solicitors (another word for lawyers) who are instructed to begin the process as soon as an offer is made on a property and it has been accepted by the owner.
 
If the offer is successful, then property solicitors who represent the buyer collaborate with property solicitors representing the seller in order to complete the conveyancing transaction.
 
The conveyancing process is also necessary for homeowners who are remortgaging their property.
 
Some homeowners choose to carry out the conveyancing themselves. This can be highly confusing and time-consuming even when the process is straightforward.
 
In some of the more complicated cases (such as leasehold properties), specialist legal knowledge will be necessary in order to complete the process.  Mortgage lenders with a vested interest may insist on a professional conveyancing service being used.  
 
With so many legal issues involved (often relating to planning permission, boundaries, apartment blocks etc.), an efficient and professional conveyancer is vital for to avoid the process falling through (or for any future legal problems arising).


Conveyancing Fees?

Fees for conveyancing differ according to the service required and the price of the property/properties involved.  Recent research reveals that homeowners in the UK can pay from £300 - £1350 for conveyancing services.
 

What's covered in the conveyancing costs?

A conveyancing quote will cover two specific categories:

1. A Basic Fee 

This will cover the cost of the conveyancer or solicitor’s time. This will depend on the methods used to calculate the cost. 
 
While some providers will charge a fixed rate, others charge an hourly rate.  If possible, hourly rates are best avoided, as complications and irregularities can lead to a sharp increase in the basic fee. 
 
The preferred and most cost-efficient option is based on a sliding scale which depends on the buying or selling price of the property in question.
 
When dealing with a leasehold property, the basic fee is higher (usually between £50 and £250 more) due to the extra paperwork necessary for completion.  This is something that should be discussed with your solicitor.

2. Disbursements 

These are the costs that are incurred by your solicitor during the process and then passed on to you. Disbursements should be similar across all given quotes as they are based on fixed charges. 
 
When buying a property, the following disbursements will need to be considered:
 
Local Authority Searches: (£100 - £200) These costs will differ depending on the Borough in which the property is located.  The searches protect you from any local authority planning that could affect your property in the future.  If your postcode is not included in the quote, then the figure given will be approximate.
 
Bankruptcy Search: (£2 - £4 for every person named on the mortgage). Your mortgage lender needs to confirm that you have not been declared bankrupt so this process is one of the formalities required for the pre-completion searches (also called ‘priority searches’).
 
Environmental Search: (£30 - £35 + VAT) This is a required check for ground contamination in close proximity to the property.  If land contamination is discovered, you could be found liable in the future even if it was caused before you purchased the property.
 
Drainage Search: (£30 - £40 + VAT) To make sure that the property is connected to both fresh and foul water sewers.  The cost varies depending on which water company is involved.
 
Land Registry Office Copies: (£4 - £8) This is a pre-completion search that ensures that the seller owns the property that you intend to buy.
 
Local Searches: (£40 - £250 + VAT) These searches are location specific and depend on where you live – you may not have to pay anything.  These searches check for the presence of tin mining, coal mining, limestone mining and other similar activities.  However, quotations do not usually include these so you should check with your provider.
 
Telegraphic Transfer Fee: (£20 - £40 + VAT) This fee is charged by your bank to cover the costs of transferring the money used in the property purchase to the seller’s conveyancing provider.
 
Chancel Repair Liability Search: (£10 + VAT) You may be liable to contribute to the upkeep of the local parish church, this will depend on the location of your property.
 
Land Registration Fee: (£40 - £700) This fixed cost disbursement will depend on the cost of the property in question. The conveyancing quotes you receive should take into account the real cost of the land registration fee.
 

Property Price

Land Registration Fees

Below £50,000

£40

£50,001 - £80,000

£60

£80,001 - £100,000

£100

£100,001 - £200,000

£150

£200,001 - £500,000

£220

£500,001 - £1,000,000

£420

£1,000,001 Upwards

£700

 

Stamp Duty: All buyers must pay stamp duty (also known as land tax), which is based on the cost of the property being purchased. The stamp duty paid is dependent on the property price in each tax band and a conveyancing quote should automatically calculate the stamp duty payable. 

Property Price

Stamp Duty Percentage

Below £125,000

0%

£125,001 - £250,000

2%

£250,001 - £925,000

5%

£925,001 - £1,500,000

10%

£1,500,001 Upwards

12%


When selling a property, the following disbursements will need to be considered:

Land Registry Office Copies: (£4 - £8) These confirm that you are the legal owner of the property you intend to sell.
 
Telegraphic Transfer Fee: (£20 - £30 + VAT) This charge does not apply if you have a mortgage of less than £60,000 to cash in, as these can be redeemed using free BACS bank transfer.

How to Tell if a Conveyancing Quote is Legitimate

Moving home is an expensive undertaking and, understandably, homeowners look for the cheapest conveyancing quotes.  However, while getting a good price is an attractive option, quotes that are very cheap should be approached with scepticism.  
 
Only reputable professional solicitors and conveyancers should be considered.  There are plenty of disreputable conveyancing companies that will attempt to obtain your instruction.  They could hide some of the tasks that should be covered under the basic fee until you’ve signed and then increase the price later. This means that their initial quote will be very low, but the final fee could be a lot more than you were expecting to pay due to these ‘hidden’ costs.
 
If a price seems too good to be true, then it probably is. Make sure that you get several quotes before making a decision in order to avoid being scammed in this way.  Legitimate quotes will include an itemised list of the disbursements.  Always read the small print carefully and ensure that there are no significant extra charges that may be added later before making a decision.

How Long Does the Conveyancing Process Last?

The conveyancing process usually takes between eight and twelve weeks to complete and is comprised of two parts; Instruction to Exchange and Exchange to Completion.  Each of these parts is divided into several stages. These stages are set out clearly below in a handy checklist format that you can print out and use to check that each task is completed.

Instruction to Exchange (3.5 - 10 weeks)

 

Stage

Your Conveyancer Should:

You Should:

Check

1

Contact the property seller’s solicitor to obtain the contract pack

Have the offer on the property accepted

 
   

Have your mortgage approved

 
   

Arrange for a survey to be carried out.  Your mortgage lender may insist on using their own surveyor/valuer but you should also commission an independent survey

 

2

Request and obtain a copy of your mortgage offer

Arrange building insurance

 
 

Undertake the necessary Local Authority Searches

   

3

Analyse the contract pack, the results of Local Authority Searches and your mortgage offer then report important details to you

Review all information provided to you and ask any necessary questions

 
 

Discuss possible completion dates with you and negotiate dates with your seller’s conveyancing provider

Inform your mortgage provider of the appropriate completion dates

 
   

Sign the final contract and return it to your solicitor

 

4

Inform your seller’s solicitor that you wish to proceed with exchanging contracts

Send the deposit to your conveyancing provider

 

5

Swap signed contracts with the seller’s conveyancing provider

Send the deposit payment to the seller’s conveyancing provider

 

Exchange to Completion (10 - 12 Weeks)

 

Stage

Your Conveyancer Should:

You Should: 

Check

1

Prepare the completion statement and send it to you

   
 

Carry out priority searches

   

2

Prepare the transfer deed

Study, sign and return the transfer deed

 

3

Send the signed transfer deed to the property seller’s conveyancing provider

   
 

Request finances from your mortgage lender

   

4

Transfer payment for the property (minus the deposit) to the seller’s conveyancing provider

Collect the keys to your new property

 
 

Receive the title deeds, transfer deeds and proof of any outstanding mortgages that have been redeemed

Move into your new home

 

5

Send your transfer deed, together with the applicable stamp duty to the Stamping Office

   
 

Send relevant documents to HM Land Registry to register your ownership of the property

   

6

Receive the title deeds from HM Land Registry and send them to your mortgage lender if they have provided finance or to you if you are a cash buyer

   

Conveyancing F.A.Q.s

How will I find a good conveyancing solicitor?

A good conveyancing solicitor can make all the difference to the property purchasing process, making sure that everything goes smoothly and takes place in a timely manner. 
 
A competent and experienced conveyancer can take a great deal of the stress out of the whole process for you. Although there are plenty of disreputable providers, they can be easily avoided.
 
Use online searches to find a reliable conveyancing solicitor and when you’ve received your quote follow up with a phone call and ask for a full list of itemised disbursements.  An online search should also allow you to view testimonials from satisfied clients when making your decision.
 
As friends and family for personal recommendations – after all, if they’ve had a positive experience with a particular solicitor, it’s likely that you will too.
 
Make sure that any conveyancers that you consider are licensed by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers and that any solicitors you consider are regulated by the relevant authorities.  Contact them and ask about their experience, such as how long they have been offering conveyancing services and which of the partners are most actively involved in this type of work.
When should I contact a solicitor?
 
You should contact a solicitor/conveyancing provider as early on in the process as possible.  Starting early means that you should have enough time to contact several providers and choose one that best suits your needs.
 
Starting early will also give you time to get used to the conveyancing process and get the ball rolling so that you avoid risking not completing on time.

What should I do if I think my conveyancing solicitor is not providing the best service?

When you first instruct a solicitor, you should receive a client care letter which sets out the company’s grievance procedure.  This will have all the information necessary to either take the case to an appropriate arbiter or resolve the matter internally.  In cases where the problem is not too serious, a phone call to a senior partner in the company will often resolve the problem swiftly.
 
If you’re experiencing serious problems and delays, then it’s probably time to sack your conveyancing provider and find a more competent one. 
 
You’ll be billed for the time spent on your conveyancing to date and if you feel that the charges are unreasonable to ask for a breakdown of the costs involved.  If you can’t agree with your solicitor on the total then you can contact the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) for advice on this. 
 
If you’ve been dealing with a licensed conveyancer, you’ll need to get in touch with the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC) for support.
 
You’ll need to make sure that you let your mortgage provider know that you’ve changed your conveyancing provider. This is so that they can reissue your offer – this is vitally important.

Do I have to use a local conveyance provider?

While you may prefer to use the conveyancing services of a local provider, there are plenty of providers that don’t have premises. This reduces their overheads and allows them to offer a cost-effective service. 
 
All of the communication will take place by phone, letters or emails.  There are conveyancing providers all over the UK and most are able to provide their services in any part of the country.  Making sure that your provider is reliable and reputable is more important than where they are located.

How much is the average fee for property conveyancing?

This will depend on your individual requirements but can vary from £250 to £1300.  The conveyancing fee will be made up of the provider’s basic fee and a list of itemised disbursements (the fixed costs incurred by the provider that will be passed onto you).  

What is the 'interest rate' in the contract?

The interest rates are designed to offer a certain level of compensation to one of the parties involved should the other party delay the transaction beyond the completion date that was agreed on.  However, there are instances when the completion date can be legitimately delayed. 
 
If your moving date is delayed due to the other party, then your conveyancing provider will be able to advise you as to whether or not you can expect compensation for this.

Do I still have to pay for the conveyancing if I pull out of a sale?

You can pull out of the sale at any time up until the contracts are exchanged, but you will still need to pay your solicitor/conveyancer for their services up until this point. 
 
You will need to pay a proportion of the basic fee and any fixed costs of disbursements incurred during the process.

Can I find a reliable online conveyancing provider?

There are 2 types of online conveyancing provider:
 
  1. Conveyancing providers that operate from bricks and mortar premises and use the internet to advertise and promote their services.
  2. Conveyancing providers that operate entirely online (which keeps overheads to a minimum) and communicate with clients via telephone and post. These providers offer services to homeowners across the UK.  Opting for an online based service is a popular choice but you should still do the basic checks to ensure that the provider you choose offers a reliable service.
Both types of providers can offer a reliable and cost-effective solution and homeowners can use online quotes as a way of comparing a range of providers.

Is it possible to do your own conveyancing?

In some cases, one or more of the parties involved in the transaction will insist on professional representation and some mortgage providers will not provide the necessary finance unless a professional conveyancing service is being used. 
 
In some cases, the same solicitor will represent both the buyer and the lender which can result in preferential rates for the buyer. Because the process requires complicated and time-consuming legal work, DIY conveyancing may not be as cost effective as you would expect.
 
Sellers who plan to pay off an outstanding mortgage with the proceeds of the sale will not have the requisite forms (DS1/END1) to remove the lender’s charge at HM Land Registry. This is because the lender (bank) will not issue this until the mortgage has been paid in full. 
 
In such a case, the buyer’s solicitor will need to accept the promise of the seller’s solicitor that the mortgage will be repaid and the form provided later (debatable, yes). 
 
This is a ‘gentleman’s contract’ and is usually accepted because the seller’s solicitor is at risk of being struck off should the promise not be fulfilled and the solicitor will have the relevant insurance to cover any potential lawsuit brought by the buyer.
 
For these (and other) reasons, sellers are rarely allowed to carry out their own conveyancing on a property.  The legal process can be quite complicated with so many potential risks. 
 
Even in cases where homeowners do take care of the conveyancing, it’s often necessary to instruct a solicitor or conveyancer to deal with the redemption process.  For sales which involve a leasehold property, the services of a professional conveyancer/solicitor are essential.

What shall I do while the conveyancing process is underway?

There are certain things that the homeowner should be doing at each stage of the conveyancing process – these are clearly listed in the tables above (which you can print out and use as a checklist).  
 
Other than that, you’ll need to keep calm and wait for all of the tasks to be carried out by your conveyancing provider – a process that usually takes between eight and twelve weeks.  
 
There are other things that you can be getting on with while you wait, including choosing and booking the services of a removal company and starting to pack your possessions ready for the move.

When will I get the keys to my new home?

Receiving the keys to your new property is one of the last stages of the conveyancing process (as stated in the table above).  The estate agent will only hand over the keys when they have received firm confirmation from the seller’s conveyancer that the payment has been made in full.  
 
If there is no estate agent dealing with your case, then the keys will be handed to you by the seller once they’ve been asked to do so by their conveyancer.

What about booking a removal service?

On most property sales the completion time will be set as no later than 2 pm – this means that the funds need to be transferred to the seller by 2 pm in order for you to take vacant possession of the property. 
 
The funds then transfer to the seller’s conveyancer’s bank account is often delayed due to bank problems or similar issues (such as being part of a chain), as most transfers are carried out by telegraphic transfer.  
 
The usual practice is to book the removal company for the morning so that both parties move into their new properties during the afternoon. This gives them enough time for the loading and unloading to be carried out.

What about remortgages - is the conveyancing process the same?

When it comes to remortgages, the process is slightly different as there is no other party involved. 
 
Your solicitor/conveyancer will only have to deal with your new mortgage lender.  However, some priority searches may still be necessary (such as Local Searches) even though these would have been carried out when you first purchased the property.

How My Big Move Can Help 

If you're thinking about getting a conveyancer, My Big Move is the best place to compare quotes from the most trusted firms - both local and nationwide.
 
So go ahead and see how we can help you get the most suitable solicitor for your house move!