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Conveyancing process explained for sellers

Conveyancing is the process of legally transferring home ownership from you, the seller, to the buyer. It starts from accepting an offer and finishes when you hand over the keys to the buyer. We explain all of the legal stages in the conveyancing process when selling -- the conveyancing steps and the conveyancing process timeline.

Conveyancing process for sellers

Who does the conveyancing?

Regardless of whether you’re selling or buying, it’s a solicitor or conveyancer who will usually conducts the conveyancing process.

When to instruct a conveyancing solicitor

The first step in the conveyancing process for sellers is to instruct your conveyancing solicitor. Once you have accepted an offer, you need to formally instruct your solicitor or conveyancer to begin the conveyancing process to allow the sale to progress effectively.

To reduce delays and speed up the conveyancing process, it’s probably best to choose which solicitor or conveyancer you want to use before you are under offer, around the time you choose your estate agent.

To help you choose your conveyancing solicitor for your house sale, see our advice guides on what conveyancing and solicitor fees to expect when selling, and compare quotes.

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Conveyancing process questionnaires for sellers

The next step in the conveyancing process for sellers, before the exchange of contracts, involves completing a number of detailed questionnaires about the property and what you intend to include with the sale, which will be provided to you by your solicitor/conveyancer.  Ahead of completing the questionnaires, it’s a good idea to dig out documents you will need when selling your house.

You may be asked to complete:

  • The (TA 6) form is a general questionnaire and includes information on boundaries, disputes and complaints (like reported noisy neighbour complaints or boundary disputes), known proposed developments (like motorways or railways), building works, council tax, utilities, sewerage, contact details.
  • If you do not own the freehold you should give more information on either the leasehold (TA 7) or the commonhold (TA9).
  • The (TA 10) provides details of which fittings and fixtures you would like to include with the property.
  • The (TA 13) is more technical, but also includes finalisation details including arrangements to hand over the keys, how and where you will complete, and ensuring that the house is free of all mortgages and liability claims.

You, the seller, must fill these forms out truthfully and to the best of your knowledge; if it later transpires that you have not been fully truthful you could be sued for compensation. Or, if they find out before exchange of contracts, it might make the buyers nervous that you are misleading them about other things and they may pull out.

Draft contract and negotiations

Your solicitor/conveyancer will use the questionnaire information to draw up a draft contract. This is sent to the buyer for approval.

The conveyancing solicitor will lead negotiations over the draft contract. Things to agree include:

  • Date of completion (usually 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts).
  • What fixtures and fittings will be included in the sale price.
  • How much the buyer will pay for other fixtures and fittings.
  • Who will fix any issues raised in the buyer’s survey, or an update on the sale price that reflects the survey’s outcome, if applicable.

Paying off your mortgage

Before you can exchange contracts, you need to pay off your mortgage, by requesting a redemption figure from your mortgage company. This is how much you pay upon completion of the sale.

Exchanging contracts

You and the buyer will have agreed on a date and time to exchange contracts. As part of the conveyancing process, your solicitor or conveyancer will exchange contracts for you. This is usually done by both solicitors/conveyancers making sure the contracts are identical, and then immediately sending them to one another in the post

If you or the buyers are in a chain, the solicitors/conveyancers will do the same thing, but will only release it if the other people in the chain are all happy to go ahead. This means if one person pulls out or delays, then everyone in the chain gets held up. For more, see how can I break the housing chain?

Once you’ve exchanged contracts, you will be in a legally binding contract to sell the property. This means that if the buyer does not complete the purchase, you will probably keep their deposit, and you can also sue them. If you pull out of the sale, they can sue you. Exchanging contracts also means that you can no longer accept another offer on your house.

Between exchange and completion

Immediately after exchange you should receive the buyer’s deposit – usually 10% of the property price. Legally, you own the property until completion, and so there is no need to move out before then. However, it will be a lot less stressful if you can move out some days before, rather than leaving it to the last minute.

This is a good time to organise your move and get removals quotes and organise your removals company if you are using one.

You should go around the property before you complete, ensuring that everything that was on the fixtures and fittings inventory list is still in the property.

On completion day

On completion day you will hand over the keys. In practice, the buyer normally gets the keys from the estate agent, and you leave any spare sets you have in the property.

You or your conveyancer/solicitor will receive the outstanding balance of the sale price, hand over the legal documents that prove ownership and pay off the mortgage with the proceeds of the sale.

After completion

You will have to pay your solicitor/conveyancer and the estate agent.

Conveyancing process timeline for sellers

The conveyancing process when you are selling starts when you accept an offer on your home – and lasts until completion day when keys for the property are exchanged. The conveyancing process takes around 12-16 weeks.  

Pre contract work: appoint conveyancer, instruct local searches, get survey, get draft contract 2 weeks
Time for buyer to arrange mortgage 4 weeks
Draft contract: reviewing survey report, local searches, answering outstanding questions 2-10 weeks
Time between exchange and completion 1 week
Total time from an offer being accepted to completion 12-16 weeks

For full details, see our guide: how long does conveyancing take

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