A guide to conveyancing

Around 1 million homeowners in the UK move every year – and each property that changes hands must go through conveyancing. Here are the key points.

Around 1 million homeowners in the UK move every year – and each property that changes hands must go through conveyancing. Here are the key points.

Written by
Daniel Evans
Mortgages expert
3 JANUARY 2020
4 min read
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What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the legal process associated with the transfer of land or buildings from one person to another. The process starts once an offer is accepted on a property and ends when the final contracts and payments have been completed.

How does conveyancing work?

Most commonly, a solicitor or licensed conveyancer is put in charge of conveyancing and it’s their job to:

  • handle contracts between the buyer and seller
  • update or register the ownership of the property with the Land Registry
  • organise the payment of stamp duty, if applicable
  • conduct local searches – for example, to check if there are any plans for new developments in the area.

Be aware that when you apply for a mortgage, a lender might offer you a list of conveyancers they've selected. Sometimes the conveyancing service might be include as part of the mortgage deal, but you'll usually have to pay a separate conveyancing fee. You're free to choose – and pay for – your own conveyancer if you wish.

If you're selling a property, your estate agent should be able to recommend a solicitor to handle your conveyancing or, again, you could choose your own.

What else should I think about when choosing a conveyancer?

Check whether the price you’re offered by a conveyancer includes VAT and if there’ll be any additional charges. Some providers offer a no-completion, no-fee service that could protect you if a property sale falls through.

How much does conveyancing cost?

The cost of conveyancing varies. Typically, conveyancing fees cost between £850 and £1,500 (including VAT). Local searches usually cost a further £250-£350. You might be able to find a cheaper deal for conveyancing by searching online. Since December 2018, solicitors in England and Wales have to publish conveyancing fees on their websites.

It’s worth factoring in the other expenses of moving to a new home. Mortgage lender fees typically covers a booking fee, administration fee and valuation fee. Stamp duty is another cost to think about. You can calculate how much stamp duty you might have to pay on the government’s website.

Can I do my own conveyancing?

You can do your own conveyancing but the process is complicated and, if it isn’t managed correctly or mistakes are made, problems could arise - for example, with a boundary dispute. Most buyers are typically better off using a legal professional for their conveyancing.

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