Timescales & Key Stages

Conveyancing is a crucial part of the buying and selling process, which involves legally transferring home ownership from a seller to a buyer. Your solicitor will carry out the conveyancing on your behalf, and they will be happy to go into more detail with you, but here is a simple guide to lead you through what happens and when.

When house hunting or house selling it is important to do some research into the Conveyancing firm you wish to use, so that once things are ready to move forward, the process, which in the early stages can often move quickly, can be as streamlined as possible. For help finding the right firm, you can take a look at our “top tips” blog post here.

Once an offer is accepted

At this point, you should immediately instruct your Solicitor.

There are a number of matters that need to be addressed before any exchange of contracts can go ahead. There are four key things which need to be done:

  • The seller’s solicitors will obtain the property’s title deeds and prepare a draft contract, which they will forward to the buyer’s solicitor for approval. The seller will complete standard Property Information forms detailing things like fixtures and fittings and leasehold information.
  • Several searches will be carried out on the property, including local, environmental, and water and drainage searches. This process is designed to reveal any information that might adversely affect the property.
  • The buyer’s solicitor will send any Pre-Contract Enquiries they have to the seller’s solicitors once they have looked at the title pack. These are designed to reveal more detail about any potential issues with the property regarding, for example, unusual rights of way issues, or whether the seller has carried out any structural alterations.
  • The buyer needs to get a mortgage agreement in place, with a written mortgage offer from a lender before they commit to the purchase.

Once the above have been carried out, the buyer will receive a written report from their solicitor explaining the contract, search results and the mortgage offer in detail.

During this part of the process, the buyer’s solicitor will draw their attention to any problems before an exchange of contracts. The buyer’s solicitor will usually also send the mortgage deed to the buyer for signature at this time.

Exchange of Contracts

Contracts will be signed by the respective parties in readiness for exchange of contracts. At this time, a deposit, usually 10% of the purchase price is paid to the buyer’s solicitor.  

The contract is legally binding on both parties once exchange of contracts has taken place. The completion date will be set at this time. If either party refuses to proceed with the transaction or they delay and do not complete on the agreed completion date, then they will be liable to pay compensation to the other party.

Once exchange has taken place, the buyer’s solicitor will apply to the mortgage lender for money to be released in time for the completion date. They will also carry out other searches to ensure the seller hasn’t entered into any other contract or obtained another mortgage on the property.  The solicitor will ask the buyer to settle his account prior to completion.


On the completion date the buyer’s solicitor will ensure that the balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller’s solicitor as early as possible, so the keys are released - usually around early afternoon.

After Completion (known as Post Completion)

There will be some loose ends for the buyer’s solicitor to tie up, including paying Stamp Duty Land Tax (LTT in Wales), and arranging for the registration of the title at HM Land Registry.  It may also be necessary to serve notices on a landlord or the bank or building society, to advise them about the completion. 

The solicitor will send a copy of the registered title to the buyer and their mortgage lender. They will also notify the freeholder, if the property is leasehold.


A simple transaction with no complications will generally take between 14-16 weeks. However, we do advise our clients that complications can arise that will be outside of your and our control. This could include complications such as:-

  • Where there is a long chain and your completion depends on a long line of straightforward transactions and everyone having the same timescales in mind.
  • If there is a property in probate within your chain.
  • If there is an issue with searches or the official registration of land.
  • Issues with planning permission.
  • Incorrect information on mortgage applications, for you or anyone in your chain.
  • Complications with searches.

We will always do our best to keep your transaction on track and moving forward and will communicate with you at all times if we can foresee that delays will be possible. Usually, these will be totally outside your or our control. This can be a difficult and stressful time in your life and will possibly be the biggest purchase you ever make, and our best advice is to be realistic and allow yourself freedom and flexibility on your moving date. Please be reassured that we will be doing our best for you at all times.


  • Emma Gilroy
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  • Rhian Jervis
      • Rhian Jervis
      • Director & Deputy Head of Residential Property
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  • Katie Walters
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  • Geraldine Davies
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  • Sarah Lowe
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  • Laura Winter
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  • Sarah Woods
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  • Mari Gordon
      • Mari Gordon
      • Licensed Conveyancer - Residential Property
      • 01267 248 982
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