When you’re buying or selling a property, conveyancing is one of the most important parts of the process. It’s the branch of law concerned with the preparation of documents for the conveyance of property or the action of preparing documents for the conveyance of property.

Though you can do it yourself if you have the time and confidence, most people leave it in the hands of the professionals; either solicitors or specialist conveyancing firms who ensure a smooth and fair transaction and look after transferring the large amounts of money involved in property sales.

What they do

A good conveyancer will act on your instructions to assist you in meeting your legal obligations and protect your rights and interests. On your behalf, they will conduct the appropriate searches and inquiries on the property and ensure both parties are satisfied before any money is transferred. This involves:

  • Legal work (searches and checking title registers)
  • Mortgages (making sure a mortgage is in place, getting valuations)
  • Signing contracts (setting out what’s included in the sale)
  • Exchanging contracts (this makes the sale legally binding)

What they charge

Solicitors’ conveyancing fees normally come in at around £850-£1,500 (including VAT at 20%). You’ll also need to pay for the cost of searches and local searches, which will add around £250-£300 to the price. Licensed conveyancers can be slightly cheaper and many offer tempting fixed price deals, particularly for online services.

Some firms won’t charge you if the property sale doesn’t go ahead, some charge by the hour and others charge a flat rate.

But always remember that speed and ease of contact are crucial during the conveyancing process so you may wish to pay slightly more to receive the responsive service you need at this nerve-wracking and time-sensitive stage.

What to ask

When choosing a licensed conveyancer or solicitor to act on your behalf, you need to think about both price and how good the service will be.

Ask about:

Reputation and reviews. If they can’t provide any references, a quick look online should give you a good idea of how they treat their clients.

Case management systems. These are used by many conveyancing firms and let you see just where you’re up to, 24/7. Without them, you could be spending a lot of time on the phone, although offering this service does not guarantee fast conveyancing!

Trades to trust

Licensed conveyancers in the UK may be members of The Conveyancing Association, the leading trade body for the conveyancing industry. Membership of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers is also worth looking out for.

If your chosen conveyancer is accredited with the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Scheme it shows they have gone through rigorous examination and testing to demonstrate that they have a high level of knowledge, skills, experience and practice.

The law

You can carry out the conveyancing yourself, but you will still have to pay for any searches you want as well as the stamp duty.

You will also have to pay a fee to the land registry for the property’s title to be transferred into your name.  If you are buying with a mortgage then your lender will appoint their own conveyancing solicitor whose costs you will need to cover. Plus, if anything goes wrong, you won’t be covered by professional indemnity insurance.

Ready to hire?

3 is the magic number

As always, try and get three quotes from three different solicitors or licensed conveyancers to ensure you pay a fair price for the job.