How long does the conveyancing process take?

On average, conveyancing takes 8 to 12 weeks in the UK. Often there are major delays. Why does it take so long and can you speed it up?

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How long does the conveyancing process take when buying or selling a home?

Although it takes around 8-12 weeks to complete the average conveyancing transaction, there are many factors that affect the length of time between an offer being accepted and completion.

Some of these factors will be beyond your control, but there are steps you can take as a buyer or seller to speed the process up.

The following table shows average conveyancing times and highlights the key areas that take the longest:

Buyer/Seller Status Average time from offer to exchange of contracts
No chain - cash buyer 4 - 8 weeks*
No chain - buyer obtaining a mortgage 4 - 10 weeks*
Chain - Cash buyer 10 - 12 weeks*
Chain - buyer obtaining a mortgage 10 - 12 weeks*

Selling - steps in the conveyancing process that take the most time

Getting the draft contract out - Before the seller's solicitor can send the draft contract to the buyer's solicitor, the seller must find and instruct a solicitor, complete various lengthy property forms and locate numerous documents) 2 weeks (from acceptance of offer)
Obtaining leasehold management information (leasehold properties) 2 - 6 weeks

Buying - steps in the conveyancing process that take the most time

Mortgage approval 2 - 6 weeks
Property survey 3 - 4 weeks
Searches 2 - 3 weeks

What does a conveyancer do?

A conveyancing solicitor handles the legal work required to transfer ownership of a property from a seller to a buyer. This legal process is known as ‘conveyancing’.

What does the solicitor do on a purchase?

When acting for a buyer, a solicitor will carry out due diligence into the property and report back to the buyer.

This will include:

  • reviewing all information supplied by the seller
  • raising detailed enquiries about the property
  • carrying out searches
  • dealing with and representing the 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 the land registry

On average, the conveyancing of a residential property takes eight to twelve weeks. But there are any number of factors that can lead to delays.

What does the solicitor do on a sale?

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).

Together with a draft contract of sale and a copy of the property title deeds, these property forms will be sent to the buyer's solicitor soon after you accept an offer.

If you are selling a leasehold property, your solicitor should immediately apply to the freeholder or managing agent for the leasehold management pack. This pack will also be forwarded to the 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 and liaise with your mortgage lender (if applicable) over the redemption of the mortgage (if applicable)

How to overcome the main areas of delay as a seller

As a seller, there are a few steps you can take that can shave weeks off the time needed to complete the conveyancing.

These steps include instructing a solicitor as soon as possible after you find a buyer. You should then complete all of the property forms and locate any documents required for your sale. If you are selling a flat you should apply to your freeholder or managing agent for the leasehold information pack.

How to overcome the main areas of delay as a buyer

Although the main opportunity for preparatory work lies on the seller's side, there is still much you can do as a buyer to help speed up the conveyancing process.

These steps include arranging your finances, asking your lender for a Decision in Principle (DIP), checking your solicitor can act for your lender before you instruct, applying for searches and booking a survey as soon as you find a property to buy.

How to take control and speed up the conveyancing process

There are many more steps you can take to speed up the conveyancing process. These are covered in more detail here:

Speed up the conveyancing process - how to take control

Your next step

If you are buying, selling, remortgaging or transferring equity in a home and need an expert conveyancing solicitor, we can take care of the legal side of your move.

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Helen Goddard, Legal researcher

Helen Goddard, Legal researcher