Frequently asked questions when moving home

The conveyancing process can be long and complex, with many stages to go through before you can complete your property transaction.

We answer some Frequently Asked Questions and explain what to expect when you buy or sell your home.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring ownership of a property or piece of land. Because of the serious and substantial nature of property, transferring ownership generally involves searches, enquiries and fulfilment of certain legal requirements before ownership can change.

How long does conveyancing take?

This depends on the length of the chain involved, ie. how many parties are all relying on each other to move. The transaction will not be able to proceed until everyone in the chain is ready. This means that if one party is waiting for something, such as a search result or mortgage offer, the whole chain will be held up.

Conveyancing can be completed in around twelve weeks but could take longer if delays are experienced. If there is a short chain, completion could be sooner.

What is involved in the conveyancing process?

The seller’s solicitors will send the buyer’s solicitor the contract package, including a copy of the legal title to the property and the seller’s property information and fixtures and fittings forms.

The buyer’s solicitor will go through these and raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. At the same time, the buyer’s solicitor will apply for searches to obtain information from the local authority and other bodies such as water companies and environmental agencies.

Once the buyer’s solicitor has all of the search results together with satisfactory replies to enquiries and a mortgage offer, the buyer can sign the contract and will be ready to exchange.

What happens on exchange of contracts?

On exchange of contracts, the buyer’s solicitor will pay the buyer’s deposit, usually 10%, to the seller’s solicitor. A date for completion will be set up and down the chain.

The buyer’s solicitor will arrange for the mortgage advance to be forwarded in readiness for completion day.

Once the money has changed hands on completion day, the seller’s solicitor will authorise the estate agent to release the keys to the buyer.

When should I instruct a solicitor?

You can contact a solicitor as soon as you decide to buy or sell. This will allow them to start carrying out the necessary identity checks, particularly if you are likely to want the transaction to go as quickly as possible. If you are selling, your solicitor will also be able to start putting the contract papers together and let you have the property information and fixtures and fittings forms for completion.

How much does conveyancing cost?

As well as the legal costs, if you are buying a property, you should also budget for other items including search fees, Stamp Duty, Land Registry fees and survey costs.

Should I get a survey?

It is always recommended that a buyer obtain a survey to ensure that their investment is sound. While a mortgage lender will carry out a valuation of the property, this is generally only very basic. A proper survey carried out by a chartered surveyor will give details of the condition of the property and any repairs and maintenance that are needed. There are different types of survey available. For older properties or where you intend to carry out substantial or structural work, you may want to consider an in-depth survey.

If you would like to speak to one of our expert property law solicitors, ring us on 0345 241 3100 or email us at

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