Conveyancing – the legal process for buying a new home

Posted 31 March 2016 by Keith Osborne

A conveyancer is pretty much essential to the homebuying process, but what is convyancing and what do you need to know about it as a property purchaser?

According to the latest Which? national property survey 2015, the stress of moving house tops that of changing jobs, getting married, and even having children.

On top of countless home viewings, meetings with your mortgage advisor and the anxiety caused by risky property chains, the conveyancing process can also threaten to pose further difficulties. This is why it is so important to instruct a trustworthy solicitor offering a quality service to handle the legal side of the house buying process.

Mike Carter, head of property at Paul Crowley & Co solicitors (who we interviewed just a few weeks ago), takes us through a step-by-step guide of the conveyancing process when buying your home.

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring home ownership from the seller to the buyer. The process will start when you accept an offer on your home and finish when the keys are handed over. 

When do I need to instruct a solicitor?

You will usually instruct a solicitor or a conveyancer to carry out this work for you, although some people to choose to carry this work out themselves if there is no mortgage involved, but this is a risky option.

Generally, it is best to instruct a solicitor as early on in the process as possible to avoid unnecessary delays down the line.  

What is involved in the process?

Once instructed, your solicitor will write to the seller’s solicitor requesting a copy of the draft contract and any other necessary paperwork. Once this is received your solicitor will investigate the title and raise any queries with the seller’s solicitor. 

The first step will then be for your solicitor to raise any questions ove4r the paperwork, after careful examination. You should also have a read over of these forms and raise any of your own concerns. In particular, make sure you check the tenure of the property – is it freehold or leasehold? If you are buying a leasehold property it should ideally have over 80 years left on it. Extending your lease can be costly and can only be done after you have lived in the property for two or more years.

After the paperwork has been approved a series of property searches will be carried out, some of these will be recommended by your solicitor and others may be required by your mortgage lender. These are designed to pick up on any issues which can’t be seen from viewing the property. You will then be made your mortgage offer by your mortgage lender.

Exchanging contracts

The exchanging of contracts is the final stage in the process and means that you are in charge of the property. For this reason you must take out buildings insurance before you sign the contract, should you face any nasty surprises.

Once everything is in place your solicitor will exchange contracts on your behalf with the seller’s solicitor. At this point the property is officially sold and you are legally bound to complete the sale.

Your solicitor will then lodge an interest in the property with the land registry, which freezes the title deeds for thirty working days and means that you can complete payment and thereafter the Land Registry can transfer the deeds to your name. 


On completion day the seller should drop the keys at the estate agents once their solicitor has confirmed receipt of the purchase monies from your solicitor, ready for you to move in.


Click here to see your activities