What’s the conveyancing process for buyers?

Conveyancing is when home ownership is transferred from one owner to another, and covers the legal documents involved in making this change official. The conveyancing process for buyers starts when your offer is accepted and ends after completion.

Most people instruct a solicitor to take care of the conveyancing process. Before this begins, you’ll receive a Letter of Engagement from your solicitor that you’ll need to sign and return. This basically gives them the green light to represent you and will list how much they charge and when payment is due.

If you’re not sure where to start with finding a solicitor, ask a friend (or even your mortgage advisor or estate agent) for a referral. Finding a good one will help with all the steps that come next.

Setting everything up

The first decision is to let your solicitor know how you want to hold the property – for instance, whether you are the sole owner or if it’s a joint purchase. If you’re buying a place with your significant other, then you have two options:

Once that’s taken care of, you can let the estate agent know which solicitor you’re using so they can send you a Memorandum of Sale. This essentially confirms the agreed price and some other basic information, although it’s not legally binding.

Doing the legal legwork

Now it’s time for the solicitors to get the ball rolling. Your solicitor will ask the seller’s solicitor for a draft contract, which will include details on the title to the property, answers to a few questions you might have, and a copy of the lease (if it’s a leasehold).

They might then raise questions with the buyer’s solicitor and generally go back and forth a bit while they do things like:

You’ll also need to confirm your mortgage in principle and send this offer to your solicitor.

Exchanging contracts

If everyone is happy with the draft contracts and any questions have been cleared up, you’ll be asked to sign on the dotted line.

This is also (big gulp) when you’ll send the first payment, usually 10% of the purchase price, to your solicitor. If your deposit is tied up in the sale of your property, the deposit can sometimes be paid at a later date.

There are a couple of things you’ll need to do before contracts are exchanged:  

When you and the seller both give the go-ahead, the solicitors will exchange contracts and you’re then legally committed to buying the property.

If anyone gets cold feet or has a change of heart after this point, the other can claim compensation.

Before completion

You’re now on the home straight. There’s usually just a week or two before exchanging contracts and completion (picking up the keys).

Your solicitor will have a few final items to take care of such as drawing up the Transfer Deed (to register the property in your name). They should also send you a final statement to let you know how much money needs to be transferred before the day of completion.

This leaves you with the fun task of packing boxes, sending out the house-warming invites and getting ready to take the obligatory selfie on the morning of completion when you can pick up the keys from the estate agent.

Final thoughts

Although the conveyancing process sounds mind-twistingly complex, in reality it’s just a series of small steps that are mostly carried out by your solicitor and the estate agent – and, after all, they’ll know the process inside out. You’ll be guided from beginning to end, and have the chance to ask questions if you’re unsure about anything. That’s why we suggest finding a solicitor that you trust and keeping communication open at all times with the estate agent. If you’re considering buying or selling a property in East London, email info@keatons.com and we’ll be happy to help.

See our full list of property advice articles in our Knowledge Centre.

About Keatons

Keatons has been based in East London for over 20 years and has since expanded to the north and south of the city. We have an outstanding Trust Pilot rating from customers and we are known for helping sellers and landlords achieve the best possible market price for their property. To find out more, visit www.keatons.com.

How much is your home worth?

Let's crunch the numbers