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 £425,000, or you're moving house and it's worth over £250,000 you'll need to pay stamp duty. Similar taxes apply in Scotland and Wales.
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.