Seven steps in the conveyancing process

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Conveyancing is the legal process by which ownership of a property transfers from one person to another. In order to ensure that your house sale or purchase goes as smoothly as possible, it pays to understand the steps that have to be followed.

1-Instruct Your Legal Representative

You will need to choose a legal representative to handle the sale or purchase for you. Your choice is between a conveyancing solicitor or a licenced conveyancer such as Sam Conveyancing Licensed conveyancers are property law specialists whilst conveyancing solicitors cover a broader range of legal services.

2-Arrange Your Finances

Your chosen legal representative will need confirmation that you have the necessary funds to purchase the property. This includes evidence of your deposit and how you came to have it (there is additional paperwork required if the deposit is a gift or related to a Government house buyer’s scheme), whether you are paying cash or have a mortgage agreed in principle.

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If the property is being purchased with a mortgage, the mortgage company will require a valuation to be completed to confirm that the value of the property is sufficient security against the mortgage that you have asked them for.

It is sensible to pay a surveyor to conduct a thorough inspection of the property to ensure that you are completely aware of any damage, defects or work required. This will help with budgeting and negotiating but is also wise due to “Caveat Emptor” which puts the onus on the buyer to satisfy themselves with the condition of the property, rather than on the seller to disclose any issues.

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4-Conveyancing Searches

Your chosen conveyancer will obtain the title deeds for the property and conduct a number of searches to ensure that there are no historical or planned issues that could affect the property, including rights of way, planning proposals, drainage, mining or Chancel issues, amongst others.

These searches have to be conducted on every property sale and, depending on the issues unearthed during the search, can take up to 6 weeks to complete. This is usually where a fast conveyancing process can slow down, especially if there is a lengthy chain involved.

5-Contracts and Enquiries

This is the point at which the buyer and seller’s conveyancers exchange contracts and offer their clients the opportunity to raise any queries that they may have. This process ensures that the legal title is correct and it is the last opportunity to cancel the sale.

6-Contract Exchange

This is when a completion date is set and the sale becomes legally binding. After this point, neither party may attempt further negotiations or cancel the sale. There is usually a gap of 1 to 4 weeks between contract exchange and completion, during which time all legal and administrative tasks will be performed, including the buyer’s conveyancer obtaining the funds from the mortgage company and the buyer organising appropriate buildings insurance and transferring the deposit to their conveyancer.


Completion is the date at which ownership transfers from the seller to the buyer. It is when the seller receives their money and the buyer receives the keys from the estate agent. It is at this point that the conveyancers will be paid by their clients for the work completed.

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