All you need to know about conveyancing solicitors and conveyancing

Everyone buying or selling a home has to go through the conveyancing process. Conveyancing is the name given to all the legal work that’s involved in transferring the ownership of a house (or piece of land) from one owner to another. The process begins after an offer on a home has been accepted and conveyancing solicitors' details have been passed between you and the other side.

Conveyancing is complex and can be time consuming. So our experts have put together this guide and five useful tips to help you progress as quickly and smoothly as possible – reducing the stress and the chances of your sale or purchase falling through. 

1) What do conveyancing solicitors do?


A conveyancing solicitor's job is to deal with all the legal aspects of buying and selling a home. These responsibilities include: 

Local search - reveals any factors which weren’t on the estate agent’s details but may affect your future enjoyment of your home, like plans for any new buildings or roads near you. 

Land charges search - checks to see if your home’s subject to particular restrictions that may affect its development, like conservation or tree preservation orders. 

Land registry - the legal documents you need to see to prove the seller’s ownership. 

Stamp duty - the tax due on every home purchased over £125,000. Find out more about stamp duty here

Apart from the conveyancing work there is also the lender's legal work to be done. The principal task is to draw up a mortgage deed, which sets out the conditions of your loan. The lender will hold this and the title deeds of your property until your mortgage is paid off. 

Tip: Your estate agent will ask for your conveyancer's details as soon as your offer’s accepted. It'll speed things up (and save you rushing a really important decision) if you’ve already appointed someone to do the work before you start house hunting. 

2) How long does the conveyancing process take?


In most cases the conveyancing process takes between six and eight weeks. But it can vary significantly because there are so many unknown, outside factors involved. These can delay completion and solicitors can often do nothing about them. They include:

  • Buyer’s delay in getting a mortgage offer
  • Seller’s delay in giving access for a survey
  • Defects revealed in the survey which require attention or investigation
  • Delay obtaining search results
  • A long chain of interlinked sales and purchases
  • Delay in getting information or documents from outside organisations.

Tip: Don't be tempted to opt for a solicitor that’s offering a really cheap deal. This could mean they’re dealing with lots of clients which will usually result in a slower service for you. 

3) How much are conveyancing fees?

Conveyancing costs vary so it's worth getting at least three quotes from different companies before you start. But beware, what may seem like a great quote could end with a final bill that’s much larger than you expected because of hidden extras in the small print. Make sure you know exactly what’s included in your quote. It should cover the conveyancer's time, phone calls, letters and faxes plus a Personal Indemnity fee which all solicitors must have in case things go wrong. 

The Nottingham’s conveyancing team offers you a ‘No move, no fee’ promise. That means if your sale falls through or you decide to withdraw before the exchange of contracts, you won’t pay a penny for the legal work carried out.

4) Why can’t I undertake the conveyancing myself?


In reality very few home-buyers undertake the conveyancing themselves, for four main reasons:

  • Some lenders will insist on you employing a solicitor to protect their interests
  • There’s a much higher risk of things going wrong
  • If it isn’t carried out properly you could find yourself involved in costly legal disputes
  • The other side may not be happy with you doing your own conveyancing, and may even reject your offer on this basis

5) Questions you should ask your conveyancing solicitor

With so much at stake it’s important you chose your conveyancing solicitor carefully. One of the best ways to find a good conveyancer is through personal recommendation, so ask your estate agent or perhaps friends and family who’ve bought a property in the same area. You may also be able to check their feedback online. Once you’ve found someone make sure you agree regular updates on the progress of your conveyancing and ask what you can do to keep things moving efficiently. 

Tip: It’s always worth finding out as much as possible about your conveyancing solicitor’s experience, procedures and what happens if something goes wrong.

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