What does a conveyancer do, and do you need the services of one?
A conveyancer is a professional responsible for transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another. They act on your behalf through the entire buying/selling process, starting from offering initial advice to finalising the sale.
Although you could try and carry out the conveyancing yourself, using the services of a conveyancing solicitor will ensure that you will not run into any major issues when buying or selling your house.
Without further ado, let’s take a closer look at what a conveyancer does and what the conveyancing process involves.
Conveyancing is the process of transferring, or conveying, ownership of property from the owner/seller to the buyer and a conveyancer is the person who oversees the entire process and makes sure it runs smoothly.
This includes arranging property surveys and searches, including finding out that there is a charge on the property, preparing, checking and rechecking contracts, dealing with Land Registry applications, and arranging completion dates and deposits.
Conveyancers are usually solicitors—they both have the same role when it comes to buying a property.
The biggest difference is that a solicitor provides legal advice on a wide range of issues, whereas a conveyancer specialises in property law and is, therefore, able to provide expert advice on all aspects of buying, selling, or transferring property ownership.
If you choose to go with a solicitor, make sure you find one that specialises in the type of property you are buying or putting on the market (residential property, new builds, commercial buildings).
The fee of a conveyancer or solicitor involved in the purchase or sale of property ranges from £850 to £2,000. Buying or selling property is a complicated process and involves a lot of unexpected legal costs, which is why fees vary so much.
The first thing you need to check is their qualifications. Look into how long they have been in business—experience is important when it comes to conveyancing.
Once you have found a few solicitors, compare their fees and make sure to enquire about any hidden costs. Don’t go for the cheapest quote you get—sometimes, it’s worth paying a little extra to ensure that the buying/selling process goes off without a hitch.
Finally, read a few online reviews or get recommendations from friends, family, or your mortgage broker. Alternatively, you could check the Council for Licenced Conveyancers site and find a solicitor there.
A conveyancer is vital to the home-buying process, from start to finish. Here is what they do in more detail.
After you’ve found a conveyancer or solicitor that meets your needs, their initial task will be to open a purchase file and inform you of the terms of service.
The terms outline fees (an estimate) and the deposits you’ll need to pay before you get started, as well as a form requesting your basic information (NI number, IDs).
If you are purchasing the property, the conveyancer will need details about the property, the estate agent, the vendor’s solicitor and your lender (if you are taking out a mortgage).
Those selling a house will need to supply information about the property, the sale price and details reading the buyer’s conveyance.
If you are taking out a mortgage to pay for the property, you will need to provide a copy of the mortgage offer to your conveyancer and discuss the terms.
Sellers are advised to spend to their mortgage broker or lender for further guidance.
Additionally, your conveyancer will request a memorandum of sale, or notification of sale, from the owner’s estate agent. This will have information on everyone in the property chain.
After the buyer’s conveyancer contacts the vendor’s solicitor to inform them that they have been instructed to act on your behalf, the seller’s conveyancer will provide a draft contract together with a copy of the property’s Title or Deeds.
The seller will be required to fill in certain legal forms about the property. Also known as ‘protocol documents’, these include:
A potential buyer will most likely be unable to deduce all the problems of a property just by going through the house. There may be concealed faults, planning permission issues, emissions of dangerous materials and other factors that impact the property’s overall value.
Your conveyancer will conduct a number of searches, including water, environmental and mining, as well as local authority searches to give you more information on the land and building.
Although it is not a legal requirement, many homebuyers choose to carry out an additional property survey that will show more details such as the condition of the structure, its age and materials used.
It is the conveyancer’s job to ensure that all paperwork is accurate, address any issues with the owner’s conveyancer and discuss potential problems with the buyer.
They will also contact the conveyancer representing the other party to inquire about any concerns they might have, ranging from questionable Flood Risk Report findings to disparities in the Deeds. Finally, your conveyancer will send over any documents that need to be reviewed and signed by you.
This process might take a few weeks, but it is essential as it will uncover any issues with the property at the start. What’s more, conveyancers are bound by a code of conduct to act in their best interest; otherwise, they might be held liable.
After the paperwork is signed and delivered, the buyer needs to pay the deposit, which is usually 10% of the purchase price (or 5% if you are lucky enough to get a 95% LTV mortgage).
Next up, it’s time to schedule the completion date—both conveyancers discuss this with their clients and choose the most suitable move-in day. If there are more people in the property chain, they will all be consulted on this matter.
As soon as the completion date is settled, the conveyancer can negotiate a date to exchange contracts.
Before contracts are exchanged, though, it is your solicitor’s duty to run a final check with the Land Registry and confirm that nothing has been changed on the property since the initial searches. You will then sign the completion statement, transfer deed and mortgage deed, which will be sent to the seller’s conveyancer.
After that, contracts are exchanged, and the 10% deposit is transferred to the vendor’s solicitor.
Keep in mind that your conveyancer will also collect any unpaid funds during this stage of the process. These payments must be cleared before completion can occur.
Once contracts are signed and exchanged, the sale becomes legally binding and must be finalised by the completion date.
If you back out of the sale at this point, you risk losing your deposit and facing legal action by the vendor for inconvenience and costs incurred.
Funds are transferred between the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancers, completing the transaction. The estate agent will release the keys for you, and you can move into your new home.
Conveyancers acting on behalf of the seller will transfer the deeds to the buyer’s solicitors and pay the estate agent and the vendor’s mortgage lender (they will provide the conveyancer with a statement for the total sum owed beforehand).
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You may be ready to get comfy in your new home, but the conveyancer’s job is not done yet.
After the sale is completed, your conveyancer will be required to:
Those financing the purchase with a mortgage will not receive the deeds, as this will be passed on to your lender. If you bought the home with cash, a copy of the deeds will be sent directly to you.
You should receive your legal documents from the Land Registry that confirm you are the new owner of the property in approximately 3 weeks.
If you are the seller, you will receive legal documents that confirm the successful sale of the property. You will have to compensate your estate agent and receive any remaining payments before the conveyancing is complete.
Although it is not obligatory to deal with a conveyancer when buying or selling a house, hiring one can make the entire process easier to manage.
The tasks and responsibilities of a conveyancer can be quite complex and too many to keep track of at times. Plus, any mistakes can be quite costly and may even result in legal action, further highlighting the need for professional assistance. Last but not least, mortgage lenders will require buyers to hire a qualified conveyancer as part of the loan agreement, so if you are taking out a home loan, hiring a solicitor is a must.
They both have the same qualifications and are regulated by the same professional bodies when it comes to property transactions. The only difference is that solicitors can provide other legal services, whereas conveyancers can only offer conveyancing services.
The conveyancing process can take anywhere from 12 to 16 weeks which starts with an offer being made and ends on completion day. It depends on the complexity of the sale, the number of parties involved, and how quickly everyone responds to requests for information.
Your conveyancer will manage the legal process of buying or selling your home. You should look for a solicitor who will check and recheck every detail, maintain a clear line of communication, and provide swift answers to any questions you may have.
The responsibilities of a conveyancer representing the seller are similar to the buyer’s solicitor. They are required to provide the contract pack, address any potential issues the buyer’s conveyancer might have, calculate the completion figure and redeem the mortgage by sending the net proceeds of sale to their client.
My name is Marija, and I'm a financial writer at DontDisappointMe. Although finance might not be everyone's cup of tea, my 10+ years of working in one of the biggest banks in my country, and my interest in extensive research on everything finance/investment-related, have made me somewhat of an expert in the field (if I do say so myself). No longer having the passion to work in a corporate setting, I decided that I couldn't let all of this knowledge go to waste so I started writing. And, here I am! Today I try to share my knowledge with my audience in the hopes of making this topic as simple and interesting as possible. In my leisure time, I like spending time with my family and travelling to new locations.