Last edited 20 Nov 2020


Conveyancing is the process of transferring the ownership of a property from one party to another. It involves a number of administrative procedures required to ensure the transfer is legal. There are no restrictions on who can undertake conveyancing, but it will normally be a solicitor (or conveyancer), and funders (such as mortgage lenders) may require this.

Once a property has been selected and a price agreed, solicitors are likely to be instructed by both the seller and the purchaser. Formal contracts should be prepared setting out the terms of solicitor's appointments, which should include details of the fee payable (for example, whether they include VAT and expenses).

The purchaser's solicitor is then likely to write to the seller's solicitor to inform them that they have been instructed and to request copies of the draft sales contract which should include details such as:

Other information that may be requested can include:

The purchaser's solicitor will carry out legal searches to identify other things that the purchaser may need to know about the property before proceeding:

During this period, other activities may be necessary, not normally part of the conveyancing services:

Once the contract has been agreed and signed, there is an ‘exchange of contracts’, which is likely to be accompanied by the payment of a deposit. Following exchange, there is an obligation to proceed with the transfer of ownership, and failure to do so may result in the deposit being forfeited, or the seller being sued.

The purchaser's solicitor will then prepare a completion statement setting out how much money must be paid for completion and the seller’s solicitor will prepare a transfer deed to transfer ownership of the property.

Once payment has been made, and the signed transfer deed received, the sale is complete and keys can be handed over.

Stamp Duty Land Tax will then be payable, and the change of ownership can be registered with the Land Registry. Documentation should be provided to the purchaser, including the title deeds.

This process can be further complicated by the existence of a chain, in which the seller of one property is also the purchaser of another, creating a complex series of interrelated contracts, the progress of each of which is dependent on the others.

NB The word 'conveyance' can also refer to: 'A measure of the flow carrying capacity of a watercourse or section of a floodplain.' Ref Culvert, screen and outfall manual, (CIRIA C786) published by CIRIA in 2019,

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