Learn more about conveyancing and what to expect from a conveyancer.

Conveyancing is a vital part of the home buying and selling process; it helps to ensure a trouble-free and legally binding transaction. Our guide can help you understand how to find the right conveyancer for you and get to grips with the conveyancing process.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership. It involves several steps to ensure a successful property transfer meets all legal obligations.

In the UK, conveyancing is typically managed by a solicitor or licensed conveyancer specialising in UK property law. Conveyancing holds significant importance within the property buying and selling journey, ensuring strict adherence to legal requirements and secure, legally sound, and binding transactions.

How does conveyancing work

The conveyancing process can be lengthy but will depend on the conveyancer's efficiency and the complexity of the sale. 

The conveyancing process involves several steps, including:

This includes gathering all the necessary information about the property, conducting searches to uncover any potential issues with the property, and preparing an initial draft of the contract.

During this time, the buyer's solicitor will review the draft contract and raise any inquiries or concerns with the seller's solicitor. Negotiations may occur to resolve any issues or discrepancies. This step can be time-consuming, especially if there’s a lot of back and forth when negotiating the contract.

Once both parties are satisfied with the contract, they sign identical copies, and these contracts are exchanged. A completion date is usually agreed upon, and the transaction becomes legally binding. The buyer may pay a deposit at this point.

The completion date is when the money and keys change hands. If the property is purchased with a mortgage, the lender will transfer the funds directly to the buyer’s solicitor. Once the seller’s solicitor has received the funds from the buyer’s solicitor, the property's legal ownership is transferred from the seller to the buyer, and the keys are handed over.

After completion, the buyer's solicitor will register the change of ownership with the Land Registry. This ensures that the buyer's ownership rights and a mortgage lender’s interest are officially recorded.

Throughout the conveyancing process, solicitors or conveyancers also handle other crucial tasks, such as paying stamp duty, arranging for purchase price payment, and ensuring that all legal documents are correctly executed.


Contract negotiation

Exchanging of contract


Post completion

This includes gathering all the necessary information about the property, conducting searches to uncover any potential issues with the property, and preparing an initial draft of the contract.

When do I need a conveyancer?

Most aspects of buying or selling property in the UK will require a conveyancer or solicitor, for example:

This can include buying land, a new-build property or purchasing property through a scheme like shared ownership. You’ll need the conveyancer to handle contract negotiations, surveys and all the legal documentation.

When selling a property, you’ll need a conveyancer to help handle the contract negotiations and ensure all legal obligations are met before you transfer ownership to the buyer.

If you remortgage, you may need a conveyancer to handle the legal aspects of transferring your mortgage from one lender to another.

If you transfer any equity in the property, you’ll require a conveyancer to handle the legal aspects.

If you own a leasehold property (where you own the property but not the land), you may require a conveyancer to help navigate and renegotiate the lease.

Conveyancing FAQs

The conveyancing process can be relatively quick and easy or long-winded, depending on the complexity of the transaction and the efficiency of the different parties involved. 

On average, simple residential conveyancing can take between 8-12 weeks but can be shorter or longer depending on a number of factors, like:

  • Property type - leasehold properties or properties with complexities can make the conveyancing process longer.

  • The chain - If there’s a chain of property transactions where multiple properties are being bought in sequence, the process can take longer and become more complex. 

  • Searches - The time it takes for searches to be carried out can vary depending on local authorities and the level of searches required.

  • Mortgage approval - If you’re applying for a mortgage to purchase a property, the time it takes for your lender to approve your application can slow down the whole process.

  • Legal issues - If any legal issues arise, negotiating resolutions or disputing discrepancies can extend the process.

  • Efficiency of communication - Having effective communication between all parties helps speed up the process. If one person is slow to respond, the whole process can start to lag. 

  • Third parties - Any third parties involved can sometimes cause delays, depending on how efficient they are. 

Conveyancing fees can vary significantly depending on the conveyancer you use, whether you’re buying or selling and what third-party costs you incur. 

The cost of conveyancing solicitors fees can also vary considerably. Some solicitors offer fixed-fee conveyancing, while others charge a percentage of the property value. 

Because of the wide range of conveyancing costs, it’s essential to shop around and obtain multiple quotes before instructing a conveyancer or solicitor. It can be worthwhile asking for recommendations from friends or doing research online to find the right conveyancer or solicitor for you. 

Some mortgages will come with “free legal” as an incentive, which can save you money. However, using a lender’s solicitor can also lead to delays. Though it costs more, finding a solicitor or conveyancer you trust can often be worth it. 

Disbursements are third-party costs usually paid by your solicitor but added to their fee. These typically include survey costs, stamp duty, land registration and transfer of ownership fees.

Solicitors will often give an estimate of the disbursements you’re likely to incur when providing you with a quote. 

Both conveyancers and solicitors are professionals who play roles in property transactions, but there are differences between them:


Specialisation: Conveyancers specialise in property law and the legal processes associated with property transactions who focus solely on conveyancing. They might not offer broader legal services.

Training: Conveyancers are often trained in property law and conveyancing, enabling them to efficiently handle property transactions.

Cost: Conveyancers can be considered more cost-effective for straightforward property transactions due to their expertise.


Specialisation: Solicitors have a broader scope of legal expertise and can handle various areas of law, including property transactions. They can provide legal advice across multiple areas and other legal matters.

Training: Solicitors have comprehensive legal training that covers various aspects of law beyond conveyancing.

Cost: Solicitors can sometimes be more expensive for property transactions due to their broader legal capabilities. 

In summary, a conveyancer is a specialist in property law and focuses primarily on property transactions, while a solicitor has a broader legal scope and can handle various legal matters, including property transactions. The choice between a conveyancer and a solicitor depends on the complexity of the transaction and whether you require legal services beyond conveyancing.

The buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer will carry out searches to obtain information from various authorities and organisations so that they can assess any potential issues that could affect the property’s value, ownership or future use. 

The aim of conducting conveyancing searches is to identify any potential property concerns that may not be immediately apparent during a visual inspection. Some of the most common searches conducted are:

  • Local authority search - This will uncover any planning permissions, building regulations, conservation areas, road schemes or other local issues that could affect the property, including any upcoming development proposals in the area.

  • Land registry search - This will confirm the legal, registered owner of the property and any restrictions surrounding the property's use.

  • Environmental search - To identify any potential environmental risks that could impact the property.

  • Water and drainage search - To check the water supply and drainage arrangements for the property, including any public sewers and connections.

  • Chancel repair liability search - The owners of some properties have a legal obligation to repair their local church.

  • Coal mining search - To assess the risks posed to the property if there’s a history of coal mining in the area, such as subsidence.

  • Flood risk search - To assess the risk of the property flooding from nearby sources, such as rivers or the sea.

  • Highways search - To check there are no public highways or rights of way that will impact the property.

  • Utilities search - To identify the location of the property’s utility services, such as gas, electricity and water.

Conveyancing searches are covered in our add-on SmartBuyer service.

Having the right conveyancer can make selling or buying a house a smoother process. 

It’s a good idea to do your research on solicitors and conveyancers in order to find the right one for you. Opting for the cheapest option without researching could be something you later regret.  

Here are the factors you should consider when choosing a conveyancing solicitor:

  • Ask for recommendations - ask friends, family or colleagues who they’ve used previously and if they’d recommend them.

  • Do your research online - research online for local conveyancers to get a grasp of your options and check their online reviews. 

  • Request quotes - When you’ve got a shortlist of suitable options, you should request conveyancing quotes from all of them. 

  • Trust your instincts - If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Your decision shouldn’t be based solely on price, especially if you wish for a smooth, quick transaction. 

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