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Conveyancing Guide

Conveyancing is the legal process to transfer the ownership of a property from the seller to the buyer. People usually opt to hire a solicitor or licensed conveyancer for their conveyancing purposes although some very brave homebuyers do it themselves.

If you are buying a property, your solicitor generally works on behalf of your mortgage lender, who usually insists on certain searches before they will release the money for your house.

When selling a property, the solicitor or conveyancer will draw up a contract for the sale. They will also apply for title deeds from your mortgage lender, organise searches and send a list of questions to the buyer's solicitor.

When you are buying, your solicitor will get local authority searches showing any local planning permissions. These include things such as plans for a new road and how they might affect your purchase; drainage searches which show where the waste water from your home goes and land registry searches which will show who owns the property.

The types of searches conducted do have regional variations. Lenders may ask for different types of searches for different areas of the country. For instance, in Cornwall where there are many disused tin mines, they may ask for a tin mining search.


A survey is usually undertaken at the same time as conveyancing. While a mortgage lender will only demand a valuation survey which won't pick up on any structural defects, a homebuyer's examination or structural survey will look closely at the building and show up any repair or renovation work that needs to be done. If work is necessary, you may be able to renegotiate your offer and the terms of the transaction.

Contract exchange and completion

Following completion of the survey and searches, and a mortgage offer is in place, your solicitor should be able to organise a date for you to exchange contracts. At this point, the sale becomes certain and contracts between the buyer and the seller are swapped.

Contracts generally include a date for completion - often a week or more in advance. If you back out between exchange of contracts and completion, you will have to pay the other party 10% of the purchase price. Your solicitor will arrange for all the fees and costs to be deducted. At completion, you are the official owner of the property and can move in.

Conveyancing Fees

Solicitors fees vary between individuals and practices. Set aside between £500 and £1,000 for a simple sale or purchase - but that's without other costs. If you are buying and selling, then you'll have to pay two fees. Remember if you are selling, you're also going to have to pay your estate agent and the fee will also attract VAT, currently at 20%.

And if you're buying a home costing more than £125,000 (or £250,000 if you're a first time buyer) then you're going to have to pay stamp duty too. Stamp duty is paid on the total property cost if the price is over the £125,000 limit: rates go from 1% from £125,001-£250,000 to 5% for £1 million plus properties. Add on the cost of searches, money transfers, identity checks and other disbursements and you are looking at a sizeable bill for moving.

Lender Initial Rate Duration Standard Rate Overall Cost For Comparison Max Loan To Value Fee
2.59% 2 years 5.69% 5.4% APR 75% £999
2.69% 2 years 4.99% 4.9% APR 75% £495
2.94% 2 Years 5.69% 5.4% APR 75% £199
2.99% 2 years 4.99% 4.9% APR 85% £495
2.99% 3 years 4.99% 4.6% APR 70% £499
3.0% 2 years 5.69% 5.5% APR 80% £999
3.19% 5 Years 4.79% 4.2% APR 80% £995
3.35% To Jul 2014 4.95% 4.6% APR 75% £999
3.5% 2 years 5.49% 5.1% APR 75% £595
3.84% 2 years 3.94% 4% APR 90% £499

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