How Long Does Conveyancing Take?
Talking you through the conveyancing process timeline, how long conveyancing takes and what you can do to speed up the process...
The conveyancing process begins from the moment an offer is accepted and is the part of moving house where ownership is transferred from one party to another. With the conveyancing process being the bulk of the moving house, it’s important to know ‘how long does conveyancing take?’
Well, we’re going to answer that for you, as well as explaining the conveyancing process timeline and how you can speed up the conveyancing process.
How long does conveyancing take?
The conveyancing process will differ in length, depending upon the complexity of the deal, but generally, it will take around 12-16 weeks.
The process begins once you accept an offer on your property and will continue through exchange of contracts, right up until completion day.
During this time, there are a lot of potential problems which your solicitor may face (we will touch on this in more detail later), and these can potentially cause lengthy delays, meaning conveyancing takes beyond the 16-week mark.
As a seller, there’s not a lot for you to do during the conveyancing process, with the main thing being your solicitor putting together the draft contract paperwork and answering any pre-contract enquiries raised by the buyer’s conveyancer.
Conveyancing process timeline
1. Pre-contract work – around 2 weeks
As soon as you accept an offer on your property, the conveyancing process will begin, so make sure you’ve already got a solicitor on hand to get the ball rolling. Your conveyancer will start to draw up a draft contract, which they will pass on to your buyer’s solicitor when it has been completed. The survey and local searches on your property will also be completed at this time, so the results can be passed onto your buyer’s conveyancer once they come in.
2. House repayments offer – around 4 weeks
At this stage, there’s nothing happening for you as a seller, as this applies to your buyer. Hopefully, they should have had a house repayments agreement in principle, meaning this should just be finalising the offer, but that’s not to say it will be as straightforward as it sounds. Should the house repayments valuation come in below what your buyer has offered for your property, there will be some complications in your buyer getting their house repayments offer confirmed, so this can cause great delays to the conveyancing process timeline.
3. Draft contracts – 2->10 weeks
During this stage, the draft contract should be brought together and created. In this stage, the information from the Land Registry, searches and surveys will be used to create the draft. Should there be any issues raised by the survey or searches, then this will cause a delay in drafting the contract and will need to be overcome before all parties are happy to move towards the exchange of contracts.
4. Exchange to completion – 1->2 weeks
Once everything is in order and both parties are happy with the draft contract, you’re able to exchange contracts. When contracts are exchanged, a completion date will be set, allowing you to see how long you have to wait until you can drop off your keys and move out. You may have a delayed completion, which can delay the whole process by longer than 2 weeks, but you will be able to decide this before contracts are exchanged.
Why do solicitors take so long with conveyancing?
There are various different reasons as to why your solicitors may be going through the conveyancing process slowly and, sadly, most of the time the delays to conveyancing are caused by issues outside of your solicitors’ control.
For example, these are some common reasons you may find your conveyancing process is taking longer than it should:
Seller buying a new build and it isn’t built yet
The property is a leasehold property
The buyer is waiting on a mortgage offer
The survey shows up concerning results
Surveyor delays returning the results
Local authority slow to respond delaying searches
Buyer and/or their solicitor is responding slow to enquiries
Beyond these reasons, there can also be the case of solicitors not doing their job correctly and acting slowly throughout the process. If this is the case, you may need to put some pressure on your solicitor or get your estate agent to do it if you don’t feel comfortable.
It's also up to you to make sure you’re not causing the conveyancing process to be delayed, by staying on top of paperwork and always being prompt to reply to enquiries when needed.
Can DIY conveyancing save time?
On one hand, by handling the conveyancing process yourself, you may be able to complete the process more quickly than if you were to hire a solicitor or conveyancer. This is because you will not have to wait for a third-party to review and complete the legal paperwork for you. However, it is important to note that conveyancing can be a complex process, and even small mistakes or oversights can lead to significant delays or even legal problems.
Furthermore, if you are not experienced in conveyancing, you may find that you spend more time researching and understanding the legal requirements and processes than you would have if you had hired a professional. DIY conveyancing can potentially save time, but it also comes with significant risks.
How long does conveyancing take no chain?
If you’re able to sell without the stress of a chain, this is likely because you’ve managed to find yourself a cash buyer. As a cash buyer doesn’t require house repayments, then you should be able to speed through the conveyancing process, allowing you to complete in a quicker timescale.
With no chain, you can expect your conveyancing to take around 8 weeks, as most of the reasons as to why conveyancing can be delayed and takes so long are due to the complications of being in a chain.
This isn’t to say, however, that just because you’re selling to a cash buyer there won’t be any complications. For example, there’s still a chance your house could show up some concerning survey results, causing a delay as your buyer may want to renegotiate on price.
Also, even with a chain-free buyer, you still have the risk of conveyancing taking a long time due to slow solicitors. This risk always exists, no matter the situation, so it’s important to choose solicitors who have been recommended to you, or who have good reviews.
How can I speed up my conveyancing process?
Whilst there are always going to be elements of the conveyancing process which will take time, you will be glad to know you can play a part in trying to speed up the conveyancing process:
Choose a recommended conveyancer
A crucial part of the conveyancing process is obviously which conveyancer you decide to use. It’s important you choose to use one with good reviews, or one that has been recommended to you by a friend or family member.
This way you can be reassured that the conveyancer will behave appropriately and will respond to enquiries and act in a timely manner. It’s also important you appoint your solicitor before you’ve actually sold your house. Just give them a ‘heads up’ that you’re going to be putting your house on the market, meaning you will require their services soon.
This will mean as soon as you accept an offer on your property, your solicitor is ‘ready to go’ and will be able to act fast.
Be proactive with enquiries
As a seller, you play a part in how long the conveyancing will take, as it’s up to you to respond to enquiries, allowing your conveyancer to move forward with the process.
Make sure you’re always available to speak when you’re needed and prepare any paperwork for the property which your conveyancer may want to see, allowing them the opportunity to move forward at a faster rate.
Set out your ideal time frame
From the start of the process, it’s a good idea to lay out to your conveyancer your ideal time frame and completion date.
This gives your conveyancer an idea of how quickly you want to move and applies some pressure to ensure they do everything they can to keep up with your expected conveyancing timeline.
Be open to dealing with survey issues
Should any issues arise on the survey, you need to be open to trying to find a solution as soon as possible.
Whether that’s conducting more searches, offering to carry out some work to solve the issue, or taking a price cut, it’s up to you as the seller to be happy to do as much as you can to overcome any issues, should they arise.
Be ready to move out
Whilst we talk about finding yourself a chain-free buyer, it’s also key that you’re happy to act as a chain-free seller.
If you haven’t found a property to move into but have accepted an offer on your property, you have two options – find a new property FAST or move into rented accommodation. If you move into a rental property, you’re reducing the number of complications which can cause a delay and you’re ensuring there is no chain above you.
Use your estate agent
Your estate agent has an important role to play in ensuring the conveyancing process runs along as fast and smooth as possible.
In the case of most no sale no fee estate agents, they don’t get paid until the deal completes so they should be doing their best to see the process through in a timely manner.
Your estate agent can chase up both your and your buyer’s conveyancer to keep them on track and update you as to where the process is at.
Find a faster alternative
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