What does a conveyancer do?

Written by: Norman Phillips

Are you in the process of buying or selling a property? If so, you will need to enlist the services of a conveyancer.

But what exactly does a conveyancer do? In this article, we will break down the different stages of the conveyancing process and explain the key responsibilities of a conveyancer.

Key responsibilities of a Conveyancer

So, what are the key responsibilities of a conveyancer? Put simply, a conveyancer is there to guide you through the legal and administrative process of buying or selling a property.

This can include:

  • Providing legal advice and guidance throughout the conveyancing process
  • Carrying out property searches to identify potential issues
  • Drafting and checking legal documents and forms
  • Exchanging contracts and completing the sale of the property
  • Carrying out administrative tasks after completion, such as registering the sale with the Land Registry

By enlisting the help of a conveyancer, you can ensure that your property transaction is legally compliant and secure. This can give you peace of mind and make the buying or selling process much smoother and less stressful.

Why conveyancing matters

Buying or selling a property can be an exciting time, but it can also be a complex and stressful process. That’s where conveyancing comes in and it’s a vital part of any property transaction

Conveyancing is necessary for several reasons. Firstly, it ensures that the transfer of ownership is carried out legally and securely. This means that you can be confident that the property you’re buying is legally able to be sold, and that there are no hidden legal or financial liabilities associated with it.

Secondly, conveyancing involves a range of legal and administrative tasks that need to be completed before the transfer of ownership can take place. These include property searches, drafting and exchanging contracts, and ensuring that all necessary legal documentation is in order.

Without proper conveyancing, you could be leaving yourself open to a range of risks. For example, there could be disputes over who owns the property, or you could be hit with unexpected legal or financial liabilities that you weren’t aware of.

By enlisting the help of a conveyancer, you can ensure that the entire process is carried out legally and securely. They will take care of all the legal work, leaving you free to focus on other aspects of the transaction.

It’s also worth noting that conveyancers are experts in their field. They have a wealth of knowledge and experience when it comes to property transactions, and can offer valuable advice and guidance throughout the process. This can be particularly useful if you’re a first-time buyer or seller, or if you’re unsure about any aspect of the transaction.

Instructing your conveyancing solicitor

When you decide to buy or sell a property, it’s important to understand the legal process involved in the transaction. One of the first steps is to find a conveyancing solicitor who can guide you through the process and ensure that everything is done correctly.

Once you have found a solicitor, they will provide you with a quote for their services. This quote will usually be a fixed fee that covers all aspects of the conveyancing process, including searches and other administrative tasks. It’s important to carefully review the quote and ask any questions you may have before agreeing to proceed.

When you instruct your solicitor, they will begin by conducting searches to ensure that there are no issues with the property you are buying. These searches may include checking for planning permissions, building regulationenvironmental concerns, and any other legal issues that may affect the property.

Throughout the conveyancing process, your solicitor will liaise with the other party’s solicitor to ensure that everything is progressing smoothly. They will also keep you updated on any developments and answer any questions you may have.

Choosing a reputable and experienced conveyancer is crucial to ensuring that your property transaction goes smoothly. Your solicitor should have a good understanding of the local property market and be able to provide you with expert advice on any issues that may arise.

It’s also important to recognise that this whole process can take several weeks or even months to complete. Your solicitor will work hard to ensure that everything is done as quickly and efficiently as possible, but it’s important to be patient and allow time for the process to unfold.

Property searches

During the conveyancing process, your conveyancer will carry out a range of property searches to ensure that there are no legal or financial issues associated with the property. These searches can help identify any potential issues with the property and allow you to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with the purchase.

Local authority searches are a crucial part of the conveyancing process. They are carried out to check for planning permission, building control, environmental and highways issues. This search will reveal any planning restrictions that apply to the property, such as listed building status or conservation area designation. It will also check whether there are any outstanding enforcement notices against the property.

Water and drainage searches are also important. They are carried out to check that the property is connected to adequate water and sewage systems. The search will reveal whether the property is connected to mains water and drainage or whether it has a private supply. It will also check whether there are any public drains or sewers running through the property.

Land Registry checks are another essential part. They are carried out to ensure that the seller has the legal right to sell the property and to check for any restrictions on the property, such as rights of way or covenants. The Land Registry search will also reveal whether there are any charges or mortgages registered against the property.

Other searches that may be carried out include environmental searches, which check for any potential contamination issues, and chancel repair searches, which check whether the property is liable for the cost of repairing the local church.

While property searches can help identify potential issues with the property, they are not foolproof. Some issues may not be revealed by the searches, and it is important to have a survey carried out on the property to identify any structural issues or defects.

Documents and forms

During conveyancing, there are various legal documents and forms that need to be completed and exchanged between the buyer and seller. Your conveyancer will be responsible for drafting and checking these documents to ensure that they are legally compliant and accurate.

Some of the key documents involved in the conveyancing process include:

  • Contract of sale: a legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller that outlines the terms of the sale. This document will include details such as the purchase price, settlement date, and any special conditions that have been agreed upon by both parties.
  • Transfer deed: a document that transfers the ownership of the property from the seller to the buyer. This document will need to be signed by both parties and lodged with the relevant government authority.
  • Mortgage deed: a legally binding document that sets out the terms of the mortgage agreement between the buyer and lender. This document will outline details such as the loan amount, interest rate, and repayment terms.

Exchange of contracts

Once all of the legal documentation has been agreed, the buyer and seller will exchange contracts. 

The exchange of contracts is a significant milestone in the home-buying process. It marks the point at which the sale becomes legally binding, and both parties are committed to the transaction. Before this point, either party can withdraw from the sale without incurring any financial penalty. However, once the contracts have been exchanged, the buyer and seller are bound by the terms of the agreement.

At this point, the buyer will usually be required to pay an exchange deposit, which is usually around 10% of the purchase price. This deposit serves as a guarantee that the buyer will complete the purchase on the agreed completion date. If the buyer fails to complete the purchase, the seller may be entitled to keep the deposit as compensation for any losses they may have incurred.

Once the contracts have been exchanged it’s time to agree on a completion date. The completion date is the day on which the buyer takes possession of the property and pays the remaining balance of the purchase price. This date is usually agreed upon at the time of exchange, but it can be changed if both parties agree.


The completion date is the day that the buyer becomes the legal owner of the property and the seller receives the proceeds of sale. On the completion day, the seller must vacate the property and hand over the keys to the buyer.

The exact timing of the completion will be affected by how big the property chain is, and how quickly funds get transferred on the day.

Money is literally passed up the chain, from one person (their solicitor) to another.

As the buyer, your solicitor needs to wait for the proceeds of your property sale to be received before sending funds onward for your new property. You will already have paid 10% via the exchange deposit, so the balance is normally your equity, topped up by your new mortgage.

After completion

After completion, your conveyancer will carry out a range of administrative tasks, such as registering the sale with the Land Registry and paying any outstanding fees, stamp duty or taxes.

They will also provide you with a final invoice for their services and a completion statement, which will include all of the costs associated with the conveyancing process. The solicitor will effectively pay themselves from the proceeds of your house sale, so there’s rarely anything outstanding to worry about.

Norman has been in the financial services industry since 1987. For the first 10 to 15 years this was quite broad in scope including inheritance tax, residential mortgages and pensions, but this gradually changed such that since 2005 he has specialised in property finance. Specialisations; Property Development Loans, Holiday Let Finance, Commercial Loans.
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