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What is conveyancing?

Who is this page for?

This page is for home buyers wanting to know more about conveyancing and the legal process involved in buying and selling a house.

You can find more detailed information about our own conveyancing service by visiting the Lloyds Bank Conveyancing Service

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the preparing and processing of the legal documents required to buy a house.

It’s usually done by a property solicitor, known as a conveyancer. They’ll deal with the Land Registry, draw up contracts and transfer cash from you to the seller on your behalf.

The conveyancer will also transfer the legal ownership from the seller to the buyer. Your solicitor will charge conveyancing fees for this work. 

Conveyancing process: Step by step

There are many steps to the conveyancing process – but much of it goes on behind the scenes. Here’s what happens when you buy a house in England and Wales:

1. Find a conveyancer

Ideally, you’ll have found a conveyancer before you put in an offer on a property. But you can also do so after having an offer accepted.

2. Carry out searches

Once you’ve had an offer accepted on a property, your conveyancer will carry out the relevant searches. These could include everything from whether there’s road access to your property to any flooding issues.

3. Organise surveys and contracts

Your conveyancer will then sort out the legal side of things, such as getting a draft contract and the other documents required. A house survey is recommended to check for any structural issues with the building.

4. Sign and exchange contracts

Once everything is in order, you and the seller will sign copies of the sale contract and agree on a completion date. Once you’ve signed, your conveyancer will exchange contracts with the seller’s conveyancer. This is called the exchange of contracts.

5. Send deposit

When you exchange contracts, you’ll need to pay an exchange deposit to the seller. Your conveyancer should organise this for you once you’ve made the money available.

6. Lodge interest with the Land Registry

Next, your conveyancer will lodge an interest with the Land Registry. This shows that the property will need to be moved into your name once the sale is complete.

7. Completion day

Your conveyancer will usually receive the mortgage funds the day before completion. On the big day, they’ll send these to the seller. When the seller’s conveyancer confirms they’ve got the money, the property is yours.

8. Registering with the Land Registry

Your conveyancer will register the transfer of property with the Land Registry. When that's done, the property will be legally registered in your name.

9. Stamp duty

If you’re buying your first house in the UK and Northern Ireland and it’s worth over £500,000, or you’re moving house, you’ll need to pay stamp duty.

 

How conveyancing differs in Scotland

In Scotland, the conveyancing process is different. Once an offer is accepted, missives take place – a form of formal negotiation between lawyers over the finer details of the contract.

Once these have all been agreed on (the ‘conclusion of missives’), the contract becomes legally binding. This means contracts are often arranged at the start of the conveyancing process.

Conveyancing fees and costs

While fees vary from location to location and firm to firm, on average you can expect conveyancing to cost between £500 to £1,500.

Depending on who you choose, you may be charged in one of the following ways: 

  • Fixed fee
  • Percentage of the property price

If your solicitor charges based on a percentage of your house value, you’ll pay more for conveyancing if you’re buying a more expensive house.

You should get a quote from your conveyancer before you agree to use their services. The quote should show a breakdown of the following costs:

  • Bank transfers
  • Legal fees
  • ID verification
  • Land Registry fees
  • Searches
  • VAT

 

Additional fees

  • Leasehold properties – You may be charged higher conveyancing fees due as there’s more legal work required during the purchase of a leasehold property.
  • Stamp duty – You may have to pay stamp duty, have a look our guide for the latest criteria.

When you pay conveyancer fees should be negotiated directly with the conveyancing team.

Once you know your conveyancing fees, you’ll know much you need to save. Read our guide on the costs and fees involved in getting a mortgage.

 

When do solicitors request mortgage funds?

It may take five to seven working days to release the funds. Typically, mortgage funds are requested after you’ve set the completion date. If there’s not much time between the exchange and completion, the money can be requested beforehand. 

The content on this page is for reference and does not constitute finance advice.

For impartial financial advice, we recommend government bodies like the Money Advice Service.

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