What is conveyancing?


Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from seller to buyer. After finding a property you want to buy or accepting an offer on yours, a conveyancing solicitor or licensed conveyancer can handle the legal aspects of your home move.

The process involves several key steps, starting with the preparation of legal documents, conducting searches to ensure there are no legal obstacles or issues with the property, arranging the exchange of contracts where the terms of the sale are legally agreed upon by both parties, and finally, completing the transaction where the legal title of the property is transferred to the buyer and the payment is made to the seller.

Conveyancing can be carried out by solicitors who specialise in property law, or licensed conveyancers.

Conveyancing for home buyers

When buying a home your solicitor will carry out comprehensive due diligence into the legal title of the property. This process safeguards the buyer’s interests, ensuring there are no legal claims against the property, outstanding debts, or planning restrictions that could affect ownership.

Conveyancing is a critical part of the home-buying process that protects you against buying a property with unresolved legal problems or financial liabilities. 

The process includes conducting searches to uncover any legal issues, reviewing the contract of sale, handling the exchange and completion of contracts, completing Stamp Duty formalities, and registering the new ownership at HM Land Registry..

If you are buying a leasehold flat, your solicitor will also review the lease, identifying any obligations or restrictions. They also liaise with the freeholder to confirm service charges, ground rent, and any other leasehold specifics.

Read more:

The conveyancing process for home buyers

Buying with a mortgage?

If you are buying with a mortgage, your solicitor must also complete the legal work for your lender. If they're not an approved panel member of your lender, they'll need to outsource part of the conveyancing process to a solicitor who is. This can lead to significant delays before your purchase can complete.

Our solicitor panel can work with 99% of UK lenders, including major lenders like Lloyds Bank and Nationwide Building Society, to smaller niche lenders like OakNorth, so you can complete your purchase without delay.

Find out if our panel solicitors can act for your mortgage lender

Buying at auction?

When buying a property at auction, the conveyancing process is accelerated, as the buyer is legally committed to exchange contracts immediately upon the winning the bid.

This means that all due diligence into the property must be completed before the auction. Your solicitor will need to review and advise you on the auction legal pack, obtained from the auctioneer before the auction.

If you win the auction, your solicitor will need to act swiftly to meet the typically tight completion deadline (usually 28 days), as specified in the auction’s conditions of sale.

Read more:

Property auction legal pack review

Buying and selling a property at auction

Conveyancing for home sellers

When selling a home, your solicitor will prepare and provide essential property forms and documents, for the buyer, answer and resolving any queries they might have, negotiate terms, manage the exchange and completion of contracts, and ensure the seller receives the sale proceeds..

The solicitor will need to verifying the seller's legal ownership of the property and ensuring that all financial obligations, such as mortgages, are settled or redeemed before the transfer of ownership.

Throughout the process, your solicitor will coordinate with all parties involved, including the buyer's solicitor, estate agents, landlords and lenders.

Read more:

The conveyancing process for home sellers

Conveyancing for transfers of equity

A 'transfer of equity' is when you add or remove one or more people to the title (ownership) of your property. For example, you might want to:

  • Sell your share in a property
  • Separate from a partner or spouse
  • Buy out an ex-partner
  • Buy out a joint owner
  • Add a new partner or spouse to deeds

You might also want to transfer equity scenario when gifting a property (or share in a property) to a child or family member for Inheritance Tax (IHT) planning purposes.

If you want to transfer equity in a property, you will need a conveyancing solicitor to carry out the legal work.

Read more:

The transfer of equity process explained

Conveyancing for a remortgage

The Bank of England base rate is now 5.25% (19 July, 2024)

If you are remortgaging your home with a new lender, you may need a solicitor to complete the conveyancing process. Your solicitor will settle any outstanding balance, communicate with the new lender, review legal documents, and update the lender's charge at HM Land Registry.

Your solicitor will need to be an approved member of your lender's legal panel. Our remortgage solicitors are approved by 99% of UK lenders, so whether you're switching to a fixed rate mortgage with the Halifax or taking out a flexible mortgage with the HSBC, we can help with the legal side.

If you are remortgaging with the same lender , you might not require a conveyancing solicitor; it's best to check with your lender directly. 

Read more:

The remortgage conveyancing process explained

Find out if our panel solicitors can act for your mortgage lender

Article by Completely Moved authors

The Completely Moved team have years of experience helping home buyers, sellers and owners, answering questions and providing property advice.

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