Conveyancing - how long does it take?

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Conveyancing is the process of transfer of legal ownership from one person to another. You have come across your dream house and made an offer which was accepted. How long will it take till you can actually buy your dream house and move in? 

How long does conveyancing take?

Once your offer has been accepted the conveyancing process starts. Conveyancing process includes various steps and at each step a certain amount of time is required to carry out that step diligently and carefully. However, you should be proactive to cut out any unnecessary delays.

The steps of conveyancing have been explained in detail in our article on what is coveyancing? This article will take you through each step of the conveyancing process and provide you with information on how long each step may take.

Things you need to do before exchanging contracts - (2-9 weeks approximately)

Hire a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer

Once you come across a property which you like immediately engage a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.

Request and review legal documents

Your solicitor or licensed conveyancer will request and review legal documents received from the seller’s solicitor.

Local Authority Search- - 10 days to 9 weeks approximately

Local authority searches provide you with important practical information regarding the property you are desired in. They should take 10 days; however, it can take up to 9 weeks.

Do you want to do a survey? - 1 day to 2 days approximately

Surveys will provide you with information as to the condition of the property which you are interested in. Once you have booked a surveyor and fixed a date, you should get your survey report in a day or two.

Do you need a mortgage? - 4 weeks approximately

If you need a mortgage in order to buy the property, then you will to arrange a mortgage agreement in principle before you make an offer. If your offer is accepted, your mortgage lender will initiate the process of giving you a formal mortgage offer once you submit your mortgage application. It can take up to one month till you receive your formal mortgage offer.

Working on the draft contract - 2 weeks to 10 weeks approximately

After receiving information and documents from the Local Authority, the Land Registry, the seller and the seller’s conveyancer, your solicitor or licensed conveyancer will be working on your draft contract. This can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 10 weeks.

Exchange of contracts and completion - (1 - 2 weeks approximately)

When you have your mortgage offer, you have received report of the local authority searches and surveys and have been advised by your solicitor or licensed conveyancer, you have to decide if you want to exchange contracts.

If you want to go forth with the deal, your solicitor or licensed conveyancer will exchange contracts with the seller’s solicitor and at this point a completion date will be set. Completion date can be anywhere between 1 week to 2 weeks from exchange of contracts.

What can cause delays in conveyancing?

Conveyancing is a complicated process involving a lot of legal paperwork. Due to this, usually, solicitors and licensed conveyancer take time to respond to any questions their client may have. Other factors that cause delay are as follows:

  • Mortgage application issues - for instance your lender will have a panel of conveyancer. He will only lend you money if you use a conveyancer from the panel. So when you approach your mortgage lender, confirm that your chosen solicitor is on the panel of your mortgage lender.
  • Property chains - if your transaction is dependent on a property chain, any issues that come up with the other properties in the chain will affect your transaction.
  • Local authority searches are now taking significantly longer.
  • It takes a while for your solicitor or licensed conveyancer to sort out through all the legal paperwork.

What can you do to help avoid delays?

  • Cash buyer - A seller would not only be more interested in your offer if you are a cash buyer, you will save time on finding and getting a formal mortgage offer.
  • Avoid property chains - though as a buyer you will be coming across property chains. However, be aware that property chains can have issues.
  • Find a good conveyancer quickly- A proactive conveyancer will promptly deal with issues and keep up communication. This will avoid unnecessary delays.
  • Personal searches - If you get personal searches instead of official local authority searches, they will be completed a lot faster.
  • Urgently book appointment for survey - Not only will your mortgage lender will require you to carry out some surveys, surveys will also provide you with practical information regarding condition of the house. Though surveys take only a day or two, you want to book an appointment with a surveyor early.
  • In property chains be proactive - If you are regularly communicating with the properties involved you will remain on top of the process and identify any upcoming potential issues to deal with them.

Please note that the information provided on this page:

  • Does not provide a complete or authoritative statement of the law;
  • Does not constitute legal advice by Net Lawman;
  • Does not create a contractual relationship;
  • Does not form part of any other advice, whether paid or free.
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