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What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is a legal term used to describe the process of transferring the ownership of property from one person to another. Put simply, it's the legal documents and research you need to buy or sell a house.

While it's possible to do some parts of a house sale yourself – advertising your property, showing people round, moving your possessions – the actual legal bit needs to be done by a qualified professional.

This is because the transfer of property rights is a legal process and if you get it wrong you could have problems selling your house or flat in the future.

Read our guide on How to buy a house

You might not be the legal owner of the property if the documents were not drawn up properly.

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Understanding conveyancing

Why do I need conveyancing quotes?

When you buy or sell your house the estate agent may have a conveyancing firm they work with or recommend.

While you can ask about their services, it's also worth shopping around for conveyancing quotes because prices and service vary widely.

You will need to use a solicitor or home buying legal specialist who can advise you on all aspects of the process so that all the documents are correctly worded and signed at the right time.

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What type of conveyancing service do I need?

The type of service you want depends on how much you want to pay.

There are a number of organisations which offer a no-frills legal service that will draw up your conveyancing documents for a fixed price.

However, if your house or flat purchase or sale is more complicated – for example if there is an issue over a leasehold agreement, or a disputed boundary line – then you may need more specialist advice.

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Find a conveyancer or solicitor to help you complete your property purchase or sale. Compare quotes from a select panel of conveyancing specialists with Uswitch.

Finding a conveyancer to help buy or sell a house

Once you have decided on the property you want to buy, it is a good idea to find a conveyancer or solicitor.

At the current time, the issues around COVID-19, and working from home means that the process of buying and selling homes is taking longer than usual.

Also, the housing market has been particularly busy due the stamp duty holiday in 2021. This put pressure on conveyancers to try to complete sales as quickly as possible before the deadline expired. There's now a backlog of home sales being processed.

Therefore, in order to avoid unnecessary delays and get the process moving, it's a good idea to find a conveyancer as early as possible in the home buying or home selling process.

Find the best mortgage deals with our Mortgage comparison tool

What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancer will guide you through the process and make sure you sign the right documents and that your buyer or seller is also cooperating in the legal side of the house sale. They can also conduct local searches for you, advise on leases and freeholds, and check boundaries.

How much will it cost to sell my house?

Comparing conveyancing quotes can give you an idea of the cost of conveyancing in your area and may help you save money. Conveyancing services are usually charged as a fixed fee, but some will charge at an hourly rate or ask for a fee as a percentage of the property price.

Conveyancing, including the searches, usually costs somewhere between £800 and £2,000, but this can vary depending on the cost of the property and the amount of additional legal work required.

Try to get at least two quotes to compare so that you know what your costs are going to be.

It's a good idea to ask which services are included as standard in the conveyancing package, and which ones you will have to pay extra for.

The difference between conveyancer and solicitor

A conveyancing solicitor

A conveyancing solicitor will be trained to legally offer services, specialising in conveyancing. So will be able to offer a full range of legal services.

A licensed conveyancer

A licensed conveyancer is specifically trained in conveyancing, may not be able to provide legal know how, but are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC).

What do conveyancing fees pay for?

The conveyancing work covers the following documents and services:

Searches: checking with the local authority that there is nothing that will affect your property or your ability to buy it

Bank transfer: organising for payments to be made or received on the day of sale, as well as transferring deposits and other payments

Stamp duty: the charge made on a house sale as a percentage of the sale value

Land Registry: shows the property boundaries, records ownership transfer and any mortgages on the property

Additional legal work: this could include researching leasehold arrangements, helping you buy your leasehold, or establishing rights over disputed boundaries

Do I need a conveyancer or can I do it myself?

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. There are several steps to this process, which is why home buyers and sellers pay for a solicitor or conveyancer (a specialist in conveyancing) to handle it.

As it's a legal process it's better to use a qualified professional to handle this aspect of the house sale or purchase for you. A solicitor can offer a full range of legal services that may not always be necessary for buying a home.

Therefore, a solicitor is likely to be more expensive, although they could be useful if you need legal advice on more complex home-buying issues. They will usually charge far more on a per-hour basis, regardless of the complexity of the work they are doing for you.

On the other hand, conveyancers are specialists, rather than fully qualified lawyers, so they may be unable to help with any complex legal matters.

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Remember...

If your house or flat transaction is simple, you can probably use the services of a no-frills conveyancing company. If your legal affairs are more complex, you may need to take advice from a solicitor.

Conveyancing FAQs

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