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What is conveyancing?

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Conveyancing is the name for all the legal and admin work involved in transferring the ownership of land and / or buildings. This part starts right after an offer for a property has been accepted.

Who can do this for me?

You can choose between one of the following two:

  • Solicitors, who traditionally handle this kind of work.
  • Licensed conveyancers, registered in the Council for Licensed Conveyancers in order to be able to take up this work.

You can try to do it yourself, but it takes quite some time and you may not have the required expertise for things to work properly. Most lenders may insist you into using a solicitor to protect their interests. Additionally, the seller may reject your offer based on the grounds that you plan to do it yourself.

The decision of whether to hire a solicitor or a conveyancer is ultimately yours. However, make sure you consider the following:

  • Price may not be the best indicator of assessing the quality of the work.
  • Work with someone you feel comfortable with and who inspires you trust.
  • Evaluate whether they will have time to handle your case properly, and also if they can deliver to the required timeframe.

You can find your solicitor / conveyancer by different means:

  • Find other people who were happy with the service they got.
  • Check the Law Society's regional directory for local solicitors.
  • The Yellow Pages.
  • Adverts in local newspapers.

Try to have a solicitor/conveyancer available and "ready to go" as soon as possible, so that he/she can get things going immediately once you give the go-ahead.

The Conveyancing Process

This detailed list should help you check upon any conveyancing work that might be done for you or on your behalf.

Before the contract

  1. Your solicitor contacts the seller's solicitor.
  2. Your solicitor receives and negotiates the draft contract.
  3. Your solicitor makes enquiries previous to the contract.
  4. Your solicitor sends you a property information form or a copy of the draft contract for you to check.
  5. Your solicitor/conveyancer has to perform the following searches as part of the conveyancing process: Local Authority searches: for urban planning enquiries (roads to be built, property problems to clear, planning permission for development within the neighbouring properties).
  6. Enquiries to the seller's solicitor: disputes related to the property, the exact boundaries of the property and the responsibility of their maintenance, planning constraints and permissions, rights of way, restrictive covenants, guarantees and/or insurance policies, services, a clear list of all the contents included in the sale, for leaseholds, the contact info for the managing agent, the freeholder, and whether the seller is up to date with ground rent and service charges.
  7. Other searches, if necessary, include: The water authority, Commons and Coal mining
  8. The contract is negotiated and agreed. A completion date is agreed.
  9. You get a formal mortgage offer to replace the agreement in principle. Your solicitor sends you the mortgage deed to sign.

The exchange of contracts

  1. You sign a copy of the contract and then pass it on to the seller, and you receive another copy of the same contract signed by the seller, for you to sign.
  2. You hand over a non-refundable security deposit to the seller, normally 10% of the purchase price, but it can be negotiated.
  3. Right after the exchange, your solicitor will get started on a series of documents: The draft transfer document, which both parties will sign once agreed. Documentation relating to your mortgage. Your solicitor will also arrange for the money to be available once the sale is complete.
  4. Your solicitor carries some final searches: Land Registry and so on, to make sure that nothing is registered against the seller.
  5. You pay Land Registry fees and stamp duty.
  6. You ensure that the seller has fulfilled all the terms of the contract (repairs, fixtures and fittings).

After the contract

  1. House is ready for you to move in.
  2. You pay the seller the balance of the house through the solicitor.
  3. You receive the transfer document and the title deeds.
  4. You pay extra costs: stamp duty, Land Registry fees and solicitor fees.
  5. Your solicitor carries out final administrative work.

Finally, if you're interested in seeing how this fits with the whole buying process, don't forget to visit Mortgage Assistant's Step-by-Step guide to Buying.

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