Frequently Asked Questions About The Conveyancing Process

Frequently Asked Questions About The Conveyancing Process When Selling A Property
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Selling your home can be confusing as well as stressful. And if it’s the first time, you probably have many questions about the conveyancing process when selling a property.

We have sold several homes over the years and know that it can feel overwhelming. There are so many things to sort out and think about.

That’s why we have drawn on our experience and created this FAQ page. You will find the answer to any question about the conveyancing process when selling a property here.

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Do You Need A Conveyancer To Sell Your House?

Technically no, you do not need a conveyancer or solicitor to sell your house. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not advisable to use one.

When a property is changing hands, there’s usually a lot of money involved. In addition, there’s a process that must be followed to ensure everything is legal and above board.

This can be a particularly complex process if there’s anything non-standard about the property or the agreed transaction.

We consider ourselves to be pretty well-versed in the conveyancing process, but we would never dream of trying to do it ourselves. That has never been more true than with our latest purchase which had an agreement for a ‘right to access’ neighbouring land.

This access was governed by a legal agreement that was not easy to understand without a law degree. If we had attempted to deal with that ourselves, who knows what problems we would have gotten ourselves into.

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However, even fairly standard transactions involve a level of complexity in terms of the forms and procedures that must be followed.

A poorly performed conveyancing can lead to loss of money, legal proceedings, or even doubt as to the rightful owner of a property.

For that reason, we always recommend using a qualified conveyancing solicitor when selling your home. You can use our handy tool to find solicitors in your area.

When To Instruct A Solicitor When Selling A House

When To Instruct Conveyancing Solicitor

The short answer is, as soon as possible. Ideally, as soon as your house goes up for sale you’ll already have an idea over which solicitor you’ll use to handle the eventual transaction.

That then puts you in a great position of being able to start progressing the sale as soon as you’ve accepted an offer. 

We’ve always started looking into which solicitor we might want to use as soon as our house is on the market. It’s meant that when people have asked us how quickly we want to move, we could tell them we wanted to move fast and already had a solicitor lined up. This made us look more serious as sellers.

It also gives us plenty of time to fully consider the pros and cons of each option.

Remember, the quicker you move, the less chance you have of your buyer pulling out before completion. If you can appoint a solicitor quickly, you’ll also show your buyer you’re serious about selling.

So, start comparing conveyancing solicitors as soon as you can and find the one that’s best for you.

How Long Does The Conveyancing Process When Selling A Property Take?

The conveyancing process when selling a property is actually not that complex. Yes, there are 10 steps, but each one is usually quite straightforward.

On average, it takes 12 weeks to sell a house. However, it will depend on many factors and can take considerably longer, and sometimes it’s quicker.

When we bought our first home it was a very simple transaction. As first-time buyers we weren’t in a chain, and as the sellers had already moved out, they weren’t in a chain either. As a result, the conveyancing only took 8 weeks.

However, whenever we have moved and there’s been a chain involved, the process has taken anything from 12 to 20 weeks! That reflects the high solicitor fees you pay – there’s a lot of work involved!

Even at the lower end, many people will wonder why solicitors take so long to exchange contracts.

It’s a fair question to ask as the process often feels like it’s grinding to a halt the closer you get to being able to exchange.

The complexity of the sale, the length of the chain, the circumstances of the buyer, the workload of the solicitors, are just some of the factors that will impact on how long the conveyancing process takes.

We found that keeping in touch with all parties, such as buyer, solicitor, estate agent, will help to drive the sale forward and complete earlier rather than later.

How Long Does It Take From Exchange Of Contracts To Completion?

As we have seen, the whole conveyancing process takes on average three months. The period from exchange of contracts to completion is quite short compared to this.

It can be a matter of a week or two, of days or in some cases it even happens on the same day. This is something that we wouldn’t recommend though, as it can be very stressful.

For one, it means that you have to book your removal company before the exchange of contracts. And if it doesn’t happen for any reason, you might lose your deposit for securing the date with the removal people.

What can delay the conveyancing process?

The average conveyancing process in the UK takes around 3 -4 months – but it can be shorter or longer depending on the circumstances. Some of the factors that can delay the conveyancing process are:

How to speed up the conveyancing process in the UK

If you want to speed up the conveyancing process in the UK, it is advisable to:

What Are The Conveyancing Fees When Selling?

Find & Compare Conveyancing Solicitors

The good news is that, as you do not need to conduct searches when selling a property, the conveyancing fees are usually less than when you’re buying a home.

That means you’ll usually be looking at somewhere in the region of £500 – £2,000 for sales conveyancing.

If you’re buying a property too, your solicitor will be able to conduct the conveyancing for both transactions for you, which may save you a small amount.

When we bought our current home in 2021 we paid the following fees:

  • Conveyancing For Sale = £1,542
  • Conveyancing For Purchase = £2,118
  • Legal Search Pack = £350
  • Land Registry Fees = £141
  • Anti-Money Laundering Checks = £24
  • Other Admin Fees = £13

Grand Total (Buying & Selling) = £4,188

If we had just been selling, the fees would have amounted to around £1,600.

However, be sure to factor in the property value since higher value properties attract higher fees. In our case, we were buying and selling properties above the national average. We also had a few extra considerations (solar panels and an access agreement) that attracted slightly higher fees.

Therefore, you may find your fees are lower than this.

Either way, be sure to compare conveyancing solicitors to find the best deal available.

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What Can Go Wrong During The Conveyancing Process?

Just as when you buy a property, there are a number of things that can go wrong when selling one too.

By far the biggest and most likely is your buyer deciding to pull out of the purchase.

This can happen at any point up until contracts have been exchanged. Even after the exchange, you are not immune from losing your buyer though there are legal consequences, so it’s much less likely.

There are a number of reasons why your buyer may pull out of the transaction, including:

  • Lack of funds
  • Buyers remorse
  • Finding another property
  • The chain collapsing further down the line

Another practice to look out for is gazundering. This is when your buyer doesn’t pull out of the transaction but does lower their offer.

Again, until contracts are exchanged, there’s nothing that legally commits your buyer to proceed with the transaction at the agreed price.

How is selling a house in Scotland different?

The conveyancing process in Scotland is a bit different, so make sure you know all the details.

The system of buying and selling property in Scotland works differently from the rest of the UK. Once an offer has been accepted and all conditions have been agreed on, a “concluding missive” will be issued. From this point onwards, there exists a legally binding contract between the seller and the buyer.

The other big difference between selling a home in England and Scotland is the Home Report put together by a chartered surveyor who is a member of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors and paid for by the seller.

This was launched in December 2008 and the home seller must provide a home report to a potential buyer consisting of three separate documents:

  • The energy performance certificate (EPC) for the house
  • A single survey
  • The property questionnaire

Home sellers in Scotland will need a licensed conveyancer or solicitor to carry out the relevant legal work. Solicitor’s fees for selling a house in Scotland are similar to those in England.

However, you have to add the costs for the Home Report, which could cost between £600 and £800.

Author

  • Paul James

    Paul James, is a marketing expert with a passion for property. As well as being a property investor, Paul has also worked within the marketing departments of some of the UK’s leading estate agents. Paul is the founder of Property Road.

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