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Conveyancing Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

Reasons to choose Wilson Browne

Keen to learn more about the entire conveyancing process?

To help you understand the many stages of conveyancing and how long each stage is likely to take, the experienced solicitors at Wilson Browne have created this ultimate guide to the typical conveyancing timeline.

Set out in easy-to-follow steps, our conveyancing experts have answered a wide range of frequently asked questions related to this crucial property-purchasing and selling process.

From ‘how long does conveyancing take’ to ‘which stage takes the longest to complete’, you’ll find everything you could want to know about the conveyancing process here.

What are the steps in the conveyancing process?

To give you a more accurate idea of how long the various stages of conveyancing take to complete, we’ve created this handy conveyancing timeline. As well as outlining the different stages of the process below, we also include how long, typically, it takes to complete each stage.

Several of these stages can be happening simultaneously, so the solicitor often won’t need to complete one step before moving onto the second, for example. This helps to speed up the conveyancing process, supporting a smooth and quick property transaction.

Instruct conveyancer or solicitor (0-2 weeks)

Regardless of whether you choose a licenced conveyancer or solicitor to handle your property transaction, you will need to inform them of your transaction details once your offer has been accepted or you’ve accepted an offer.

The solicitor or conveyancer will then confirm these instructions in an instruction pack and provide you with a breakdown of their estimated costs.

This instruction pack will include all the necessary forms, requests for both proof of identity and evidence of funds, and payment options. Once completed and signed, they should be sent back to the solicitor to kickstart the conveyancing process.

Draft contract papers (2-10 weeks)

For those selling, their solicitor will draft contract papers which detail the terms and conditions of the transaction) to send to the buyer’s conveyancer.

They will also equip them with a completed title property information form, fixtures and fittings form, and any other relevant forms relating to the property that have been completed by the seller. The buyer’s solicitor will receive the contract pack to examine and start the pre-exchange searches.

At this point, the solicitor acting on behalf of the buyer can also raise any relevant enquiries relating to the contract, title, and property.

For a purchase, we expect to receive the draft contracts from the seller’s solicitors that will enable the solicitors to raise any enquiries relating to the contract, title and property.

Carry out conveyancing searches (2-8 weeks)

For those purchasing, these pre-exchange conveyancing searches are essential for finding out more information about the property – crucial information that can’t be obtained from a title register from the land registry.

This will help the buyer’s solicitor to identify and address any potential risks relating to the property or the surrounding area prior to completion. This ensures the buyer has the chance to amend or withdraw their offer before they enter into the legally-binding contract.

So, how long do conveyancing searches take? Searches, including the Local Authority, Water and Drainage, and Environmental search, can be one of the longest parts of the conveyancing process as they can take up to 8 weeks to complete.

The Local Authority search, in particular, tends to take the longest and involves the gathering of essential information about the property that the new owner will need to know.

At this point, the buyer should also arrange for a qualified surveyor to visit the property and produce a comprehensive report at the required level. Any issues that arise from the report, should then be raised with the seller.

Arrange funding (0-6 weeks)

Once the searches have been completed, the buyer’s conveyancer should be given details of the buyer’s chosen lender (often a bank or building society) and mortgage offer.

This will allow them to contact the lender and receive a copy of the mortgage offer for review. Once the solicitor has reviewed this offer, there will be some additional mortgage paperwork for the buyer to complete.

For cash buyers, the arrangement of funding is typically a much faster stage of the conveyancing process as no lenders are involved.

At the same time, the seller’s solicitor will need to apply for a settlement figure (redemption) for any existing mortgage(s) they might have. They will then receive a mortgage redemption statement which is valid for about four weeks.

Send and sign contract documentation (0-2 weeks)

After all the relevant enquiries have been made by the solicitors and satisfied, both the buyer and the seller will receive the full contract from their respective solicitor to sign.

These documents must all be returned to their solicitor from both parties and the buyer must send the deposit before exchange of contracts can go ahead. A completion date, which is often a week after exchange of contracts, can then be agreed between all parties.

Exchange of contracts (0-1 week)

Typically, exchange of contracts is the quickest stage of the conveyancing process. The buyer’s conveyancer will request mortgage funds and a draft financial statement will be sent to the buyer to facilitate the transfer of the monies.

The seller’s conveyancer, on the other hand, should figure out the seller’s repayment of mortgage final figure (with estate agent and other fees also included) and send them a draft financial statement.

Once the contracts have been signed, the contracts will be formally exchanged to complete on the agreed date. In some cases, exchange of contract and completion can be arranged to take place on the same day.

Completion (date must be agreed by all parties)