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Step-by-step conveyancing guide for buyers

Step-by-step conveyancing guide for buyers

Planning on buying a property and want to know more about the process? Read on to learn what is involved at each stage of the conveyancing for a typical property purchase transaction. If you are looking for information about the conveyancing steps involved in selling, read our Conveyancing Guide for Selling Property.

First Steps: Before you make an offer:

  • Line up your mortgage by obtaining quotes and application forms so you are ready.
  • Choose your conveyancer and ensure you know all costs up front.
  • Take out homebuyer’s insurance. These can be less than £40 but allow you to claim back lost survey and search fees if the purchase fails to complete.


Initial instructions from the buyer (you) to the conveyancer

Telling your Solicitor that you want them to do your conveyancing can be done before you make an offer. Early steps, such as providing ID, providing proof of funds and agreeing to terms of business, can all be done prior to finding a property to buy.


Making an offer

When you have found the property you are looking for, the first step is to make an offer that is accepted by the seller. This point begins the process in earnest. You will need to notify your conveyancer that the offer has been accepted and request that the property be taken off the market. The conveyancer will receive a Memorandum of Sale to confirm this from the estate agent.


Arrange a survey and application for a mortgage

At this stage you need to book a mortgage valuation survey and/or building survey on the property. You can also provide your conveyancer with a list, in writing, of queries about the property – this can include access, parking, property boundaries etc.


Receive the Pre-Contract Package from the seller’s solicitors

The seller will draft all the legal documentation and a draft contract that will then be sent to your conveyancer for review. There may then be a period of back and forth as the conveyancers raise specific enquiries about the contract and documentation.


Order Searches and Investigations of the property

‘Searches” are ordered and happen simultaneously with the period of enquiries and contract reviewing. These are used to gather information about the property, especially anything that may affect its future value or your enjoyment living there! Examples of the most common searches include:

  • Local Authority Searches: planning, building control, roads and pollution issues.
  • Environmental Searches: flooding, landslide, subsidence and contaminated land risks.
  • Water and Drainage Searches: sewer ownership & maintenance, water supply status and location of public pipes.


Finalise your mortgage

When the mortgage is finalised, normally after the surveys are completed, ensure you give details to the solicitor so they can check the terms and organise funds. It is not compulsory, but it is also a good idea to send a copy of the mortgage valuation survey and/or building survey as it may provide useful information to the searches and enquiries process.


Review the report showing the results of the searches and enquiries

At this point the conveyancer will write to you to report on all the information that was gathered. If you have any worries, concerns or questions they need to be raised at this stage.

Pay close attention to:

  • Fixtures and fittings: What will be left in the property? Was this what was agreed with the seller/estate agent? Will they leave any furniture, curtains, carpets, appliances?
  • Ownership: Freehold or leasehold? How long is left on the lease?



When you are happy and satisfied with all the information and the contract, you will receive a final contract and form to read and sign. Always send these documents back by tracked next day post or by hand to ensure they are received quickly. Check in with the conveyancer to confirm receipt.


Send deposit, Agree completion date, Confirm building Insurance

The deposit will be held by your conveyancer before your exchange. This is often 5-10% of the purchase price, however if you are part of a chain the deposit from the bottom of the chain may be ‘passed up’.

At this stage, you will also need to agree a completion date with the rest of the chain and supply written confirmation of building insurance of the new home.


Exchange of contracts

Formal exchange of contracts usually takes place via a recorded telephone between the two legal representatives of the buyer and seller. This only happens when everyone in the chain is ready to proceed. You will be contacted to get your authorisation to proceed.


Preparations for Moving day

There are a few things that need to be done after exchanging contracts but before completion day arrives.

  • Settle your bill with the conveyancer
  • Pay any outstanding monies: Stamp Duty, Land Tax, Land Registry fees, Search fees, outstanding balance on the property etc.
  • Sign a mortgage deed so the mortgage money can be handed over
  • Pre-completion searches will be ordered by the conveyancer to make sure nothing has changed since the exchange of contracts
  • Organisation of removals, packing and informing utility providers of the move


Completion day, or ‘Moving day’

The sellers will vacate the property and leave it completely empty for you to move in. The final completion takes place when a Transfer document signed by the seller is exchanged for the balance of the purchase price, which is done by the legal representatives of the buyer and seller.

When this is completed, the estate agent will be notified and authorised to release the keys. The time this happens will depend where you fall within the chain, but it is normal for all buyers to receive their keys at or before 1pm.

  • Take meter readings at your old property when you leave and at the new property as soon as you get the keys
  • Change the locks at your new property as soon as possible
  • Move in and enjoy!

Tying Loose Ends

There are always a few things that need to be finalised after completion as things are still happening after the property becomes yours. Key things include:

  • Your conveyancer will pay the stamp duty land tax and file with Inland Revenue
  • Your conveyancer will register you as the owner with the Land Registry
  • You will receive title deeds showing you own the property about 20 days after moving in
  • You will need to register Council Tax, utilities and services in your name

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Real Legal Ltd, a company registered in England and Wales with number 12061875 and SRA number 663663.

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