Conveyancing FAQs

Get the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about conveyancing

How long will it take?

This is always the burning question. If a property is empty and a buyer does not require a mortgage, a sale or purchase can be completed in a few days, but this is not very common. It will be more likely that a mortgage will be required and a chain of properties will be involved. In this case it will usually take between 8-12 weeks to exchange contracts and then 2-4 weeks between exchange of contracts and completion making a total of 12 - 16 weeks from start to finish.

We do our best to progress your transaction as quickly as possible, but timescales cannot be guaranteed by anyone!

When will I need to pay any money?

If you are purchasing a property, your conveyancer will ask you for some funds at the outset of the transaction to cover search fees that will need to be paid out on your behalf. The balance of the purchase price including your legal expenses etc. will be payable shortly before completion unless you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price, in which case it will normally be required before exchange of contracts (see also 'How much deposit will I have to pay?')

How much deposit will I have to pay?

It is normal for a deposit to be paid to the seller's conveyancers on exchange of contracts. Many people think that 10% is required but this is not usually the case. If you are buying and selling we can usually use your buyer's deposit in connection with your purchase so you will not have to find anything at all.

If you are buying only, the amount of the deposit will usually depend on how much you are borrowing from your lender. The maximum amount you will need to pay on exchange of contracts will be 10% of the purchase price. If you are borrowing more than 90% of the purchase price the difference will be payable prior to the completion date.

Will I need a Survey?

If you are obtaining a mortgage, the lender will require a valuation survey to be carried out. Although this may give you an indication of whether they think the property is worth the amount you have asked to borrow, it generally does not look at the condition of the property and you can not rely on it if things go wrong.

For an extra fee, you can usually request that a Homebuyers Report be carried out and this will give you additional information about the property that you will be entitled to rely on.

If the property is quite old and you have particular concern about the condition of the property, you can obtain a full structural report which is much more detailed. Most surveyors will be prepared to quote you for this type of survey.

It is important to remember the old saying 'BUYER BEWARE', because after you have exchanged contracts you will be liable for any problems discovered with the property, unless you have been misled. 

What Searches do you carry out and why?

Local authority search - This search reveals details of matters such as the planning history, proposals for new road schemes, planning breaches, tree preservation orders, conservation areas and other matters over which the council have control and may affect the enjoyment or value of the property. Your mortgage lender (if any) will require you to have one of these.

Drainage Search - This search is carried out to check whether there are water or drainage pipes under or near the property so that we can ensure that the correct documentation exists to cover this. It will also reveal whether the property is connected to the mains for these services and whether there is a water meter at the property.

Environmental search - It is recommended that buyers also carry out an environmental search to check if there are any landfill or waste disposal sites in the area, if the property has been built on an old industrial site and whether there are any risks from contaminated land, toxic emissions, flooding, subsidence etc.

Chancel Repair - The obligation of a property owner to contribute towards the cost of upkeep of the Chancel of a church is an ancient one and is often not recorded in the title deeds to the property. Many properties are subject to these obligations even where the property has been built in modern times and there is no apparent Church in the vicinity. Although the Church authorities will lose the right to register new repair obligations against properties in England and Wales in 2013, the rights will continue to affect many properties. In our Search Pack we include a no-search insurance to cover you against any possible risk of this in the future.

When do I need to arrange Buildings Insurance?

Unless your lender is arranging the building insurance, or the property is leasehold and the insurance is dealt with by the freeholder, you must normally arrange buildings insurance from the day you exchange contracts.

The amount of cover should be the estimated cost of re-building the property if it burns to the ground, which is not always the same as the current market value. If you had a survey or you are obtaining a mortgage your surveyor or lenders valuer will usually have suggested a minimum recommended amount of cover in their report.

What happens with the keys?

These are usually left with the estate agents, and the Buyer collects them once the estate agents have been advised by the seller's conveyancers that the money has been paid over on completion day. If there is no agent, then the seller will hand them direct to the Buyer on the advice of his conveyancer.

Either way, it is important to make the arrangements in advance to prevent the Buyer turning up and waiting outside with his removal van.

Although we always try to ensure that everything is finalised as early as possible on the day of completion and usually it is dealt with by mid-day, there can sometimes be a delay - if for example your conveyancer is still waiting for mortgage monies to arrive or there is a long chain. If this happens please don't panic or get upset because your conveyancer will almost always resolve the problem by early afternoon - if not sooner.

When will I get my money?

If you are just selling, or there is a surplus due back to you after completion of your sale and purchase, you will usually get this on the day of completion or, if not the next working day.

Payment is usually made by cheque, but for larger sums we can arrange to transfer the money direct to your bank if you request this in advance and provide us with your account details. There will be a bank transfer fee for this service.

What should I do about Life cover?

We recommend that you arrange sufficient Life cover for your mortgage liability. This is usually arranged before exchange of contracts. You should consult your financial adviser or lender. We introduce to our partner Embrace Financial Services. They offer expert advice on a range of protection products.


If you require mortgage finance then this needs to be arranged early in the house buying process to avoid any delays in completing your purchase. Our partner Embrace Financial Services are independent mortgage brokers and can advise you on the most appropriate lenders and schemes to suit your circumstances. 

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