Looking to move house? 

You’ll have to go through a conveyancing process if you do. So, what exactly is conveyancing and how long does conveyancing take when you are selling your house?

Let’s take a look!

Included in this article:

What is conveyancing?

Conveyancing is the process through which legal ownership of a property is transferred from one party to another. The method of conveyance can take anywhere between eight and 12 weeks to complete. 

This time starts when a seller accepts an offer and goes all the way through to when the ownership change has taken effect. It is usually a straightforward process, especially for those properties that have a short chain.

The Stages of the Conveyancing Process

The conveyancing process involves several stages from the moment you instruct your conveyancer all the way to completion day.

Pre-contract Enquiries

This stage starts off with the appointment of a conveyancer. This is also where you will be looking to instruct local searches, get surveys done, and get your drafts ready. This stage usually takes about two weeks to complete.

Arrange a Mortgage

This will not apply to you if you are buying with cash. However, depending upon the time it takes for you to get a mortgage offer, this stage can take a few weeks to a few months. Mortgage approvals are different for every case and are dictated by your circumstances.

Draft the Contract

This is where you review the work your surveyors, conveyancer, solicitors, and your estate agents have done so far. This will also involve reviewing the results of the property searches. If everything goes smoothly, this stage will take the bulk of the conveyancing time.

Exchange and Complete

This stage is the end of the whole conveyancing process. Exchange of contracts will happen first, and then you will complete the title registration for the property and move in.

How Long Does Conveyancing Take?

The answer is that the total duration will take between 12 to 16 weeks. This will vary for everyone depending on their situation and delays.

What Causes Delays in Conveyancing?

Conveyancing is a long and often complicated process and there are many factors which can cause delays. 

It involves various searches, legal requirements, mortgage offers, and lots of back and forth communication between solicitors and agents representing buyers and sellers. 

Here are some of the common reasons why conveyancing can take anywhere between a few weeks to a few months.

Document Review

Your solicitor or conveyancer will study the documents relating to the property and help you with the purchase.

Typically, the reviewed documents include property information forms, the contract pack and the mortgage offer.

The solicitor’s responsibility is to inform you about and resolve any issues before you proceed with your sale to avoid delays.

Mortgage Approvals

Obtaining a mortgage offer is an often complicated process and can take a little while!

You’ll need to provide comprehensive details regarding your financial situation, proof of ID and address before you can receive an offer from the lender.

With this in mind, getting your finances in order should be your first priority.

The conveyancing process is easily delayed through slow or expired mortgage offers (they usually last between three and six months) so it’s crucial to stay on top of paperwork.

Property Chains

Where there are in excess of three buyers and sellers, a chain is formed. If there is a chain, the process can only move as fast as the slowest participant.

What is a Short Property Chain?

A short chain means that both the seller and the buyer involved with the property’s purchase and sale in question are ready to proceed.

Usually, the chain is limited to just the two parties, perhaps because the buyer has nothing to sell and the seller is not making a further purchase.

What is a Longer Chain when Buying a Property?

A longer chain would mean that either the buyer is in the process of selling their own home, or the seller is in the process of buying another house, and so the chain continues.

Any delay in the chain can end up delaying the entire conveyancing process.

Although this is one of the main reasons why conveyancing can take months, it is not the only one.

Buyers and sellers often feel frustrated as there is little they can do.

Property Searches

Your conveyancer will order property searches from the relevant authorities. 

Depending on how well-staffed and busy the local authority is, the searches could take anywhere between a few days and a few weeks to be completed.

The searches will be carried out by the local authority.

How long do property searches take?

Property searches can take up to three weeks. Most solicitors can complete the searches for your property within two to three weeks. 

Solicitors can get faster results as they sometimes use private search agents. However, local authority searches often create bottlenecks in a busy market.

If searches uncover significant issues, further searches are usually required. While frustrating, property searches are essential to ensure you are not buying a house with long-term problems.

Property Surveys

Your surveyor will carry out specific checks on the condition of the property.

As with the property searches, finding problems could cause delays in the process, but your surveyor must be thorough.

If any problems are found during the survey, it could mean renegotiating the price with the seller, or stipulating that they make repairs before proceeding with the house purchase.

If you are in the process of securing a mortgage, your mortgage lender may insist on repairs before releasing the money.

Make sure you instruct a surveyor as soon as the offer is accepted.

How can you Speed up the Conveyancing Process?

The best way to keep delays to a minimum is to take advantage of the resources at your disposal.

These suggested actions are subtle but time-sensitive. If practised correctly, you can save a few days to a few weeks within the entire conveyancing process.

Choosing the Best Conveyancer

Solicitors or licensed conveyancers perform the conveyancing in most cases.

Opting to choose a conveyancing firm before you have made an offer can go a long way towards avoiding unnecessary delays. 

This is because you can share details of your conveyancer with the seller’s estate agent immediately.

This will allow them to begin the process without delay.

Choosing a recommended conveyancing provider can save you time that might otherwise be wasted by an inexperienced and inefficient conveyancer or solicitor.

Buying with Cash

When home movers ask how long does conveyancing take, they are often surprised to learn that mortgages are one of the main factors that determine the time it takes for the conveyancing process to complete. 

Any delays or issues with the mortgage application in a transaction can cause significant delays in the overall conveyancing process.

If the buyer purchases the property with cash, they avoid the mortgage factor altogether, thereby removing a major delaying factor.

This will be especially beneficial if you happen to be part of a property chain. It is improbable that all members of the chain will be buying properties with cash.

But if it does happen to be the case, you can expect to shave around three to four weeks off the total time of the 12 to 16 weeks it would typically take for conveyancing to complete for a transfer that is part of a chain.

Conveyancing is not a quick process as details mustn’t be overlooked, and a thorough approach is followed.

To speed up the process, you can help by making sure you are contactable at all times and have all paperwork in place and ready for your solicitor.

Ensuring you return forms promptly and providing details when requested will help you avoid lengthy delays.

Mick Silver

Mick Silver

Mick Silver is the CEO and co-founder of Moovshack. With over 20 years in the property industry. After working with traditional estate agents, Mick decided to launch Moovshack; a fully interactive property app.