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Conveyancing FAQ – Answers For Your Conveyancing Questions

What is conveyancing?
Why do you need conveyancing?
How long does conveyancing take?
Whom do you approach for conveyancing in UK?
What does a typical conveyancing process involve?
How much do searches cost?
What is Anti-Money Laundering (ML) Check and why is it needed?
What are disbursements?
What happens to the monies I transfer?
What is Exchange of Contracts?
What factors may delay a conveyancing case?
What can you expect on the date of completion?
What happens during a survey? Do you need really it?
What are the different types of searches?
When is the right time to exchange contracts?
When should you book your removals?
How can you protect your interests if you are buying in joint names?
From whom do you get the keys to your property?
What if the seller has left rubbish in the property?
When does the seller get the money?
What is local search indemnity insurance?
What is the Office Copy Entry (OCE)?
What is Priority Search (OS1)?
What is the bankruptcy search (K16)?
What is the Search Package for?
What is a redemption statement?
What is a mortgage offer?
What is the Contract?
What is a Transfer Deed (TR1)?
What is a leasehold property?
What is a freehold property?
What are title deeds?
Can I exchange before I receive my mortgage offer?
Can my mortgage offer be revoked after exchange of contracts?
Is any day particularly good for completion to take place?
Can a completion date be changed after exchange of contracts?
What typically happens during exchange of contracts?
What typically happens during completion?

1. What is conveyancing?

The process of transferring the legal title and ownership of property from one person to another is called conveyancing. Granting of mortgage or lien on a property also comes under conveyancing. Read more

Following are a few frequently asked questions and their answers:

2. Why do you need conveyancing?

The process of conveyancing is designed to ensure that the buyer, when he buys the land, gets all the rights on the land transferred to him and that he will face no problems in future transactions relating to the land. During conveyancing, the seller establishes that he is the owner and has the right to sell the property. Land registration, which is a public record, assures buyers that the property which they are buying has a good title and he will have all the rights that run with the land.

3. How long does conveyancing take?

There is no set duration for the conveyancing process. Generally, if there are no major problems, a routine conveyancing process can be completed within about 8 weeks. Some transactions may be completed before that time, while others take longer.

The number of transactions involved, the presence or requirement of a mortgage and the willingness of all concerned parties to expedite the process etc. are major factors that can influence the duration of a typical conveyancing process.

4.  Whom do you approach for conveyancing in UK?

A solicitor or a licensed conveyancer can carry out conveyancing in England and Wales. If you are proficient with the legalities involved, you can carry out your own conveyancing. However, it is advisable to approach a licensed and experienced conveyancing solicitor.

5. What does a typical conveyancing process involve?


The conveyancing process involves the exchange of contracts and completion. Equitable title is passed from one person to another during the exchange of contracts. The legal title is passed during the completion.

After the buyer agrees on a price, he then organises a survey and appoints a conveyancer to carry out searches and pre-contract enquiries. The seller’s conveyancer will collate all the information about the property, and prepare the draft contract which is then passed on to the buyer’s conveyancer.

6. How much do searches cost?

Searches can cost anywhere between £250 to £300, depending on where the property is located. It is the buyer’s responsibility to carry out searches. You will have to pay the conveyancer a fee to cover the search cost at the outset.

7. What are disbursements?

The expenses that occur during the course of the conveyancing process are called disbursements. They include the fee for property searches, Land Registry fees etc.

8. What is Exchange of Contracts?

Exchange of contracts is the indication that the contract has become binding. This is really just a telephone call between the solicitors during which the completion date is confirmed. Your physical presence is not necessary during this process.

9. What can you expect on the date of completion?

On the completion date, the following will occur:

  • The purchase price is completely paid off to the seller’s solicitor.
  • If there is a mortgage, the mortgage lender sends the mortgage money.
  • If you are the seller, your mortgage is paid off from the money received from the buyer’s solicitor.
  • When the monetary transaction is complete, the buyer collects the keys to the property from the estate agent.

10. What happens during a survey? Do you need really it?

A property survey is essential if you are getting a mortgage. Your lender will want to have the property inspected to determine if it is suitable to lend money against it. A survey undertaken by the mortgage lender is very basic in nature and is done with the intent to protect the lender’s money rather than your interests.

If you pay an extra fee, you can have a more detailed survey done which will reveal any problems with the property which the seller may have neglected to mention, and which may become pertinent in future. Though a survey is not mandatory, it is advisable to carry out a detailed survey for that added peace of mind that you are buying the right property.

11.  What are the different types of searches?

There are five different types of searches that can be carried out:

  • The local authority searchwill tell you about the planning history and future planning proposals that are likely to affect the property.
  • A drainage search will reveal whether the drains run into a public or private sewer line.
  • The land registry search will tell you whether there are any new or previously undisclosed mortgages on the property.
  • A land charges search is usually ordered by the mortgage lender to make sure that you are not bankrupt.
  • An environmental search reveals whether they are any waste disposal sites or landfills in the area, and if there is any risk of flooding, subsidence etc.

12.  When is the right time to exchange contracts?

The best time to exchange contracts is after you receive your mortgage offer. If for some reasonthe mortgage offer is declined or delayed, the money may not be available at the required time. So it is wiser to wait till you receive the mortgage offer and then exchange the contracts.

13.  When should you book your removals?

Book your removals only after you finalize on the moving date. Till the time the contracts are not exchanged, the moving date is not set in concrete and if for some reason it changes after you have made the booking, you will lose your money.

14.  How can you protect your interests if you are buying in joint names?

Couples who are married or live together may purchase property as joint tenants. This means that in the event of death of one person, his or her share of the property automatically passes on to the other. If you hold property as tenants in common, in the event of death of one owner,the share of the property will not automatically go to the other party, but will pass on to the next of kin or be distributed as per the will of the deceased.

If you put in unequal amounts into the property, the person who pools in the larger amount can protect their interests with a trust deed. It records your share in the property in case of any future disputes or death of any of the owners.

15.  From whom do you get the keys to your property?

The buyer can collect the keys from the estate agent. If there is no estate agent, the seller will directly hand them over to the buyer.

16.  What if the seller has left rubbish in the property?

If you take legal action against the seller, it is likely to be long drawn out and expensive. The better option would be to direct your solicitor to write to the seller’s solicitor that they should arrange to have the unwanted items removed or that you will arrange it, but they must foot the bill. Ideally, before the completion date, you could visit the property and ensure that all rubbish and unwanted items have been removed.

17.  When does the seller get the money?

The seller’s solicitor will usually send the money on the day of completion or the next working day. Payment is usually made by cheque or bank transfer.

18. What is local search indemnity insurance?

This is mainly carried out in re-mortgage transactions. It is basically an insurance that covers for any adverse entries that may have been revealed had a full local authority search been carried out. The insurance only protects the lender’s interest and not the property owner.

19. What is the Office Copy Entry (OCE)?

Office Copy Entries is the title document issued by the Her Majesty’s Land Registry which reveals details of the current proprietor together with information as to description of the land / property and details of any rights over the land and / or for the benefit of the land (as well as any financial charges). This is one of the first documents that a solicitor would want to see.

20. What is Priority Search (OS1)?

A priority search is carried out by a solicitor with the Land Registry against the title number revealed in the OCE. This gives a 30 day priority to register client’s interest before any other third party can. This is crucial because between completion of a house purchase and registration of the house purchase there is always a delay and there is a chance that if a priority search is not carried out before completion a third party may register an adverse entry (such as a charge) before the property is registered by the solicitor. A priority search will also reveal if anyone has already registered any adverse entries before the day of completion.

21. What is the bankruptcy search (K16)?

If you are borrowing money (i.e. a mortgage) to hep with the house purchase. Then the solicitor must carry out a bankruptcy search against your full name. This is to protect the lender’s interest.

22. What is the Search Package for?

In every property purchase transaction in which a mortgage lender is involved, the solicitor is required to carry out, as a minimum, a local authority search, environmental search and a drainage search and depending on the locality there may be further searches (e.g. flooding or mining) required. The type of searches carried out also depends on the Home Information Pack that is available.

23. What is a redemption statement?

The redemption statement shows how much is still owed on the client’s existing mortgage, and any other loans the client is paying off. If the client has taken any other loans which are not included in the redemption figure, the client must inform his conveyancer immediately. Failure to do so could result in the conveyancing transaction being delayed.

24. What is a mortgage offer?

It is a document issued by the lenders that incorporates all the terms and conditions of the proposed mortgage for your house purchase or remortgage.

25. What is the Contract?

  • The Contract (agreement for sale) reflects the conditions on which the property will be sold to the buyer. When you receive a copy of the contract and you should immediately inform your solicitor if any of the information on the contract is incorrect. If you are happy with the contract you need to sign and return it to your solicitor as soon as possible. This is the document that needs to be signed by both the buyer and the seller confirming that they agree to the terms and conditions of the sale.
  • If you require further clarification of the contract, you must address this with your solicitor prior to signing it. Once the solicitor has received the signed contract s/he will proceed to an exchange of contracts and may only contact you prior to exchange to confirm a completion date. If you do not want you solicitor to exchange contracts you must immediately contact your solicitor; as once the contracts are exchanged you have entered into a binding contract with the other party.

26. What is a Transfer Deed (TR1)?

  • The Transfer Deed (TR1) is the legal document which transfers the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer.
  • The Transfer must be signed in the presence an independent witness, such as a neighbour or friend, who must state their full name and address next to the client’s signature. If you would prefer to, you can attend your conveyancing firm’s office to have this witnessed by one of the solicitors at the firm.

You must not date this document as it has to be dated on the day of completion.
What if there is a matrimonial or other legal dispute?

If you are involved in divorce proceedings or any other legal/ matrimonial disputes, you must disclose this to your solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity but at the latest prior to contracts being exchanged. If, after contracts are exchanged, it comes to light that you are involved in some sort of legal/matrimonial dispute which you did not disclose earlier, the conveyancer may be unable to complete on the case and as a result you may incur very heavy penalties and face compensation claims.

27. What is a leasehold property?

A leasehold property is one where there is limited ownership for example a person can have a property for 99 years only or 125 years and some leases are as long as 999 years. These are generally flats and maisonettes. And they have a lengthy document called a ‘lease’ which states in detail what a person can do with a property and what he cannot. For example it may state whether pets can be kept in the flat, whether the floor must have carpet, how often the flat must be painted and leases can also limit the period for which a flat can be rented.

28. What is a freehold property?

A freehold property is one which is owned permanently by a person. There are very seldom any lengthy restrictions and usually an owner can do what they like with freehold properties, subject to planning permission and other legal requirements.

29. What are title deeds?

This is the name given to the set of documents that prove the ownership of a property. Nowadays an Office Copy Entries is the only document that is considered a Title Deed and it is conclusive on ownership of properties.

Questions about Exchange of Contracts and Completion of your Conveyancing Case

30. Can I exchange before I receive my mortgage offer?

This is not advisable as there is always the chance that your mortgage application is declined, delayed or it may contain conditions that you are unable or unwilling to comply with and thus you many not have the necessary funds available to complete on the transaction. Our solicitors would strongly advise you against doing this.

31. Can my mortgage offer be revoked after exchange of contracts?

It is very rare but a mortgage company is at liberty to revoke their offer at anytime before completion. If you have concerns you should speak to your mortgage advisor/IFA/.

32. Is any day particularly good for completion to take place?

There are no particular good days but it is generally advisable to avoid completions for Fridays and the last working day of a month. These days are generally very busy and even banks may have trouble processing funds.

33. Can a completion date be changed after exchange of contracts?

Once completion is scheduled and contracts have been exchanged, it cannot be changed without the consent of the other party. It will usually take place between 2pm and 4pm on the set date, however, always confirm the time of completion with your solicitor.

34. What typically happens during exchange of contracts?

During exchange of contracts each solicitor will have their own client’s part of the signed contract. Then over the phone both the purchaser’s solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will confirm the purchase price, the date of the contract, the agreed completion date, and the deposit to be paid by the buyer and will then agree to exchange contracts and have it dated. The solicitors then give undertakings to forward their client’s part of the contract to the other party. The buyer’s solicitor will also need to send the deposit which is usually in the form of a cheque. The contracts are legal binding on the day of exchange of contracts.

35. What typically happens during completion?

  • Sale Conveyancing:as soon as the seller’s solicitor receives the money from the buyer’s solicitor (most likely between 12pm and 2pm) he will inform you or your estate agent to release the house keys to the buyer. The solicitor will use the funds to discharge any charges the client may have on the house and he will forward the client the balance by TT (unless client has requested a cheque).
  • Purchase Conveyancing: as soon as the purchaser’s solicitor has received all completions moneys from client (if any is due) and/or lender (which is normally requested at least 2 working days prior to the date of completion) then on the day of completion he will send a TT to the seller’s solicitor. Once the completion moneys have been received the seller’s solicitor they will call the purchaser’s solicitor and confirm that they have received the completion monies and that they have authorised the estate agent to release the keys to the purchaser. The purchaser’s solicitor will accordingly inform the client to collect the keys from the estate agents or the seller directly. Majority of the completions take place between 12pm and 2pm.

IMPORTANT: Apart from the above information given about exchange and completion all other questions should addressed to the conveyancing solicitor, especially if it is anything specific to do with the conveyancing case. For example if you want to what is the latest time you can complete on the purchase then you will need to speak directly with your solicitor as the time will depend on whether there is a chain in the conveyancing transaction.

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