How long does the conveyancing process take?
Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property ownership from the seller to the buyer. The process usually takes between 8 and 14 weeks, although there are often major delays.
Why does conveyancing take so long, and is there anything can you can do to speed it up?
In this article:
How long does conveyancing take?
It takes between 8 and 14 weeks to complete the average conveyancing transaction, although various factors can affect the timeline between an offer being accepted and completion.
The transaction being part of a property chain and whether the buyer is getting a mortgage are the most significant overall factors affecting the conveyancing timeline:
|Buyer position||Average time between offer to exchange of contracts*|
|Cash buyer - no chain||4 - 8 weeks|
|Cash buyer - chain||10 - 12 weeks|
|Buyer getting a mortgage - no chain||4 - 10 weeks|
|Buyer getting a mortgage - chain||10 - 12 weeks|
*Although completion usually occurs between 7 and 21 days after exchange of contracts, they can sometimes occur on the same day.
Key steps when selling a property
Once you have instructed a conveyancing solicitor, you will receive a set of property forms including the TA6 Property Information Form, the TA10 Fittings and Contents Form, and the TA7 Leasehold Information Form (if you are selling a flat).
If you are selling a leasehold property, your solicitor should immediately apply to the freeholder or managing agent for the leasehold management information pack. This pack will also be forwarded to the buyer's solicitor.
Once these documents have been reviewed, the buyer’s solicitor will raise further enquiries about the property and how you have used it. Your solicitor will liaise with you on how best to address and answer these questions.
Your solicitor will then handle any further contractual negotiations, liaise with your mortgage lender (if applicable), exchange contracts and complete the sale.
Which steps take the longest when selling a property?
|Step||Average time from offer accepted|
Getting the draft contract out
Before your solicitor can send the draft contract to the buyer's solicitor, you must instruct a solicitor, complete the property forms and locate numerous documents.
Instructing a solicitor before an offer is accepted can significantly speed up your move and reduce stress in the process. Many of these initial legal steps can be completed in advance, potentially shaving weeks off the conveyancing process.
|2 weeks (from acceptance of offer)|
Obtaining leasehold management information (leasehold)
If you are selling a flat, your solicitor will need to obtain the leasehold management information pack from the managing agent or freeholder. This is a common cause of delay, as some managing agents take weeks or even months to respond.
It is critical that this information is requested as early on as possible - ideally as soon as you put your home on the market.
|2 - 6 weeks|
Key steps when buying a property
When acting for a buyer, a solicitor will carry out due diligence into the property and report back to you, the buyer.
Key steps include:
- reviewing the draft contract, property forms and other information supplied by the seller
- raising detailed enquiries about the property
- carrying out property searches
- Completing the legal work for your mortgage lender
- preparing a report on the title of the property
- handling all financial aspects of the transaction
- the registration of the new owner property at HM Land Registry
Which steps take the longest when buying a property?
|Step||Average time from offer accepted|
Depending on how busy your lender is, the mortgage approval process can lead to delays. Asking your lender for a Decision in Principle (DIP) and checking your solicitor can act for your lender before you instruct can help avoid these delays.
|2 - 6 weeks|
Survey lead times will vary depending on market conditions. If you can, book a home survey as soon as your offer is accepted.
|3 - 4 weeks|
Obtaining property searches can be a cause of delay, especially if applying to the local authority (official searches). Ask your solicitor whether they can apply for personal searches instead, as these are often cheaper and quicker to obtain.
|2 - 3 weeks|
What else can I do to speed up the conveyancing process?
Choose a solicitor who is proactive, specialises in conveyancing, and who works on a 'no sale, no fee' basis (which can incentivise proactivity).
Maintain regular communication with all parties involved, including solicitors, estate agents and mortgage brokers, is critical for a faster, less-stressful, home move.
Depending on your circumstances, there are many more steps you can take to speed up the conveyancing process. These steps are discussed in more detail here:
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Helen Goddard, Legal researcher
About the author
Helen is an award-winning legal researcher and author. She is an experienced court litigation report proofreader and has written extensively on legal matters.