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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 making an offer and finishes when you hand over the keys to the buyer. Understanding it will help ensure you don’t suffer any nasty surprises

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Who does the conveyancing?

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

The first step for sellers

You will already have engaged an estate agent, negotiated on the price and accepted an offer. At this stage, you need to instruct someone to begin the conveyancing process to allow the sale to progress effectively.

To reduce delays, it’s probably best to have chosen which solicitor or conveyancer you want to use around the time you choose the estate agent. Once you’ve compared conveyancing quotes and found the right conveyancer or solicitor for you, it’s wise to tell them you want to sell, and agree conveyancing fees.  However, you only instruct them to start work after you have a formal offer. See our guide on questions to ask your conveyancing solicitor before you instruct.

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Complete questionnaires

Before the exchange of contracts, you’ll need to complete 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. You may be asked to complete:

  • The (TA 6) 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 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

Pay 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.

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.

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23 Comments

  1. Hello Gito, you should take advice from your conveyancing solicitor on this. Best of luck.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — October 24, 2019 @ 10:53 am

  2. hello
    i am trying to buy a flat in london and the estate agent gave me the seller name as anna keegan
    when during the sale the seller solicitor sent a copy of a lease to my solicitor with kovac as proprietor and leaseholder as dacosta dated october 2000 for 99 years lease as from 1983.

    nothing as anna keegan.

    i eventually received a few pages looks like from a made up lease dated 4th october 2019…..with a company as landlord and nicola rae mckinnon as leaseholder…..unsigned and unregistered at the HM land Registry.

    nothing as anna keegan at all.

    that company I found out is dormant from company house and paid up capital of £ 4 only.

    to me this looks suspicious.

    OH the address is given from somewhere in New Zealand where this anna keegan is supposed to be living.

    can you help

    what should i do

    thanks a lot

    gito

    Comment by gito — October 23, 2019 @ 3:42 pm

  3. Hello Sandra, please do discuss this option with your conveyancing solicitor.

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — August 12, 2019 @ 11:36 am

  4. Hi I am in the middle of selling and buying . I am selling a leasehold flat and on the council papers it gives a run down of charges if needed for scaffolding . If the buyer thinks this is to much can I get my solicitor to say we will pay if scaffolding is needed within 2 years Thank you

    Comment by sandra — August 10, 2019 @ 5:03 pm

  5. Dear Mick – You may be able to stipulate at the beginning of the legal process which parties need to be paid in the event of the sale. Please check this with your conveyancer. If both parties are legal parties to the property then it is unlikely it can be sold without both being in agreement. However you should seek legal advice on this. If you become a member of HOA then you are entitled to a free legal call https://hoa.org.uk/join-us/hoa-join.html?utm_expid=.EhK2jSnPQYWGCmBlp2SMFw.1&utm_referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fhoa.org.uk%2F

    Comment by HomeOwners Alliance — July 26, 2019 @ 4:25 pm

  6. Can a solicitor pay out the sale money to two persons if one party wishes this to be done?

    Can a solicitor force a sale when a property is being sold for two separate people who have agreed to a sale and one threatens to withdraw

    Comment by Mick — July 26, 2019 @ 9:04 am

  7. I am in the process of selling and buying , I have a buyer for my property .There is no chain or mortgage involved in this matter . I completed the list of fixture /fittings etc questionnaire and referred to a platform extension of my garden which 15′ x12′ and covered with a plastic/bitumen membrane to prevent water leakage and laid on top of that is artificial grass as a decking..
    .
    Now I bombarded by questions from the buyers soliictor about planning permission and building regulations.
    The rules for the construction of decking and extension of garden platforms differ as no planning permission is needed for garden extension platform as the garden is ot extended on to derelict or other land. . I have pointed out to my solicitor that although the so-called decking does not conform with building regulations it was constructed as an extension of the garden and serve only as this purpose. It is properly constructed and will probably last for decades with the minimum of maintenance. I am now waiting on the outcome of this matter.

    Comment by George — December 24, 2018 @ 11:03 am

  8. Hello
    When completing the conveyancing process, will the buyers conveyancer send the sellers conveyancer a copy of the mortgage offer (full details), or do they just need to know that there is a mortgage without a full breakdown of the details?
    Thank you

    Comment by Umar — March 21, 2017 @ 1:38 am

  9. Dear Edward,

    We would be happy to look into this further for you so please do consider becoming a member: Become a member of the HomeOwners Alliance for £45 Your membership entitles you to unlimited calls to the HomeHelpline, we provide an ask an expert service and you would also benefit from a free call with a legal advisor.

    Many thanks,

    Sophie
    HomeOwners Alliance

    Comment by Sophie Khan — March 15, 2017 @ 3:47 pm

  10. Hello,

    Me and my girlfriend are buying an ex council flat. The council has now told us that they expect us to pay for there solicitors fees. Is this legal and do we have to pay it for them?

    Our solicitor has said that you would only usually do that if it was a commercial property.

    Many Thanks
    Ed

    Comment by Edward Fellows — March 9, 2017 @ 6:59 pm

  11. Nice advice, if someone else is going to buy Property.

    Comment by selling property — January 18, 2017 @ 4:23 pm

  12. Dear Colum,

    Thanks for your query. Following completion, the seller’s conveyancer pays the estate agent (seller usually agrees to this in the estate agent’s contract), repays the amount owing to the mortgage lender and take their own legal fees and disbursements. The remaining money from the sale is then transferred to the seller, usually on the completion day. You should ask your conveyancer for a breakdown of these payments in advance of completion (though the exact mortgage redemption figure may not be available) to avoid any surprises on the day and to allow you to raise any queries you have, for example, on the agent’s or legal fees.

    Wish you the best with it all.

    Kind regards,

    Sophie
    HomeOwners Alliance Team

    Comment by Sophie Khan — November 17, 2016 @ 3:43 pm

  13. After conveyancer/solicitor has redeemed any mortgage, when exactly will the seller receive the remaining proceeds of the sale? Is there any obligation upon the conveyancer/solicitor to transfer this money to the seller on the day of completion? This will be a matter of great concern to any seller and yet it is not addressed here. Is the conveyancer/solicitor entitled to deduct fees before transferring purchase balance to seller? What if these exceed the quotation? Who settles with the estate agent? Most estate agents will charge interest for every day that they have not been paid after completion. If the seller has to settle with the estate agent, any delay in receiving purchase balance from conveyancer/solicitor could result in interest liability to estate agent. We need advice on these aspects, please.

    Comment by CK — November 15, 2016 @ 2:42 pm

  14. I am in the process of selling. I have instructed a solicitor after receivin an online quote £664 inc vat for services. I am using estate agent to sell property charging £500 +vat for HR £500+vat for Marketing fees and £1500+vat for selling fees. I have previously sold a property and i had all this info before but when i was paid the equity i had it was short as other fees were added and both solicitor and estate sgent fees were deducted i was left to dispute these fees but due to cost to try recover the added fees i had no choice other than to let it go. I dont want this to happen again so what would i do to make sure everything is in writing before i allow everything to conclude.

    Thank you

    Comment by john — December 23, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

  15. HI we bought our home through a let to buy arrangement. we pay rent, but pay extra to go toward us owning the home, plus paid a substantial deposit.
    We had to sell as relocating due to illness, and sold 9 weeks ago, we are told the buyers have a few small queries. We feel we are left in the dark and it seems a waiting game. whats going on? We were offered a hughrer bid an refused, as we think were near completion but don’t know, what can we do other than send heaps of emails which don’t always get replied to.? Our marriage is suffering due to the duress this is causing.

    Comment by Jo — November 3, 2015 @ 2:39 pm

  16. I am in the process of selling our house in scotland and have been told by my estate agent that if we do not leave our curtain poles we have to fill in the holes and put replacement ones up.
    Is this true and are there any rules in scotland as what you must leave in you house when selling?
    Kind regards

    Comment by Jos Clarke — October 14, 2015 @ 7:10 am

  17. I recently sold my property and during the sale process I completed a questionnaire detailing a fridge and washing machine I would like to sell to the buyers if they wanted to purchase it. I never heard anymore on this and assumed, if the buyers didn’t want the items my solicitors would inform me. Once the sale had gone through, it dawned on me the fridge and washing machine hadn’t been purchased by the buyers and as it was still present in the flat on completion, it now legally belonged to them. Are my solicitors liable for this lose?

    Comment by Sebastian — September 28, 2015 @ 9:52 pm

  18. I looked on the Which website to get an average cost for conveyancing. I seem to be being charged a fee for selling, but also a fee for buying. Hence two conveyancing fees. This doesn’t sound right to me, is it?.

    Comment by Rob — September 4, 2015 @ 6:15 pm

  19. I found the above information very helpful. Thanks

    Comment by Act Conveyancing Sydney — August 1, 2015 @ 4:01 am

  20. this is a really good explanation of the conveyancing process for people selling their property. Good work! We will share this through our social media channels for you.

    Comment by Online Conveyancing Quote — July 22, 2015 @ 9:02 am

  21. It makes sense to have someone lined up to take care of the conveyancing as soon as you pick an estate agent. You wouldn’t want to scramble to find someone once you’ve been made an offer on your home. It’d be far better in that situation to be ready to go as soon as you get the offer so you can close the deal more quickly.

    Comment by McKayla Strauss — June 15, 2015 @ 7:07 pm

  22. Dear Sir /Madam

    I have enquired to my local solicitors office to gain a price for me to sell my house to my daughter and I have been informed that they think we would need to use two solicitors one for me to sell my house and one for my daughter to buy my house…. I am awaiting confirmation of thus together with pricing.

    I would like to gain your pricing for this simple house sell please

    Look forward to hearing from you

    Kind Regards

    Sent from Yahoo Mail for iPad

    Comment by J diplock — June 14, 2015 @ 7:22 pm

  23. my elderly mother is in the process of selling her property. Our estate agent appears to be very helpful and has recommended a solicitor and someone to provide a EPC. I am nervous about the process and found the above information very helpful. Thanks

    Comment by jennie jones — May 18, 2015 @ 9:55 am

 
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