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How long does conveyancing take?

Posted 10 October 2017

Conveyancing is a key part of house buying. But how long does conveyancing take? We answer this question and more...

If you’ve had an offer accepted on a property, then the next step is to go through the conveyancing process. But what is conveyancing? Who does it? And how long does conveyancing take? Our guide tells you everything you need to know.

What is conveyancing?

As we have discussed elsewhere, buying a new property can take time. One of the reasons that it can sometimes take weeks or months between your offer being accepted and you picking up the keys is because of the conveyancing process in the UK.

Conveyancing is the name for the legal process that takes place as you buy a property. It is generally done by a solicitor, property lawyer or a licensed conveyancer.

You can learn more about what conveyancing is here.

How long does conveyancing take?

Generally speaking, it is hard for a conveyancer to give you an exact answer to the question ‘how long on average does the conveyancing process take?’ This is because every property transaction is different, and there are a range of unknown factors that can affect the speed of a property purchase. On average, the conveyancing process takes between six and eight weeks. However, there are a number of factors that can delay your conveyancing, including:

  • Money coming from other sources – if your purchase money is coming from a transfer of equity or remortgage, it can delay the process if there are any problems with these transactions.
  • Mortgage offer delays – buyers often think they can get a mortgage offer quickly when, in reality, it can take some time. Many buyers make the mistake of thinking that a lender agreeing their application in principle means that most of the work has been done. A full mortgage application can only be made once you have found a property to buy and your offer has been accepted. If anything changes – for example the purchase price – the mortgage offer must be amended.
  • Survey delays – there can also sometimes be delays obtaining a mortgage offer if the lender can’t get a surveyor to value the property quickly.
  • Problems with title – sometimes your solicitor will discover a problem with the title of the property which needs to be resolved before exchange of contracts. Sometimes the title has not been registered at the Land Registry, or the seller can’t find their deeds.
  • Delay in replies – if your conveyancer makes any enquiries of the seller, it can take time for them to respond. They may have to obtain additional information or copies of documentation such as NHBC warranties or planning permissions. In addition, your seller’s solicitor might not be as efficient as your conveyancer.
  • Searches – local searches can take time, with some councils taking up to three weeks to send results.
  • There is a chain – when the seller is buying another property or you are selling your home, it is often referred to as a ‘chain’. In such cases every transaction will have to exchange and complete on the same day, to ensure that the funds can be transferred through the various solicitors involved. This means that a delay in another part of the chain will have a knock-on effect on your transaction.

Our article on ‘completion date delays and what to do’ provides more information.

How long does conveyancing take for a cash buyer?

If you don’t need a mortgage to buy a property then it can often speed up the conveyancing process. Mortgage lenders can often be the source of delays during a house purchase and cutting this variable out can ensure things move faster.

If you are a cash buyer, you may still wish to instruct a surveyor. Getting a valuation of the property and having a professional look over its condition will ensure you pay what the property is worth.

How long does conveyancing take with no chain?

As we mentioned above, a ‘chain’ can result in delays to the buying process as every transaction has an effect on every other.

If there is no chain then the process can often move more quickly.

How to speed up the conveyancing process?

There are a number of ways that you can speed up the conveyancing process in the UK. These include:

  • Hire a reputable conveyancer – look for a form that holds a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) certificate (which is accredited by the Law Society) or badges of excellence such as Lexcel.
  • Keep in the loop – ask your conveyancer, estate agent and seller to keep you blind copied on all emails. This will help you to identify any issues early and you can step in to provide answers or information. Dealing with small issues with a phone call can help keep the process on track.
  • Make sure your funds are in place – delays can often occur if your conveyancer is waiting for money to come through. Make sure your funds are accessible and can be transferred quickly.

And in this article, we discuss "How long does a mortgage application take?"

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