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Guide to Conveyancing Process Stages

Have you found your perfect property but need clarification on the legal steps? We're here to help. This guide will explore the timeline of buying a house, the role of solicitors and what happens between contract exchange and legal completion. 

How long does it take to buy a house?

Buying a house typically takes six to 12 weeks, but it can take up to six months. This depends on when you find your perfect home and how long it takes to finalise the mortgage and exchange contracts.  
Read our home buying guide to learn more about the steps and timeline.

Do I need to use a solicitor? 

It's not mandatory to use a solicitor, but it's highly recommended. Solicitors handle the legal side of the property purchase, from drafting contracts to finalising the process. 
You can ask your friends, family, estate agent or mortgage adviser for a recommendation or search online.

What do solicitors do? 

Solicitors ensure that your property purchase runs smoothly by dealing with the legal process. They:
  • Draft contracts 
  • Conduct searches
  • Finalise the purchase

1. Draft contracts 

Your solicitor will review the contract to check that the price, deposit amount and title deeds are correct. You'll receive a copy including the Property Information Form (TA6), the Fittings and Fixtures Form (TA10) and previous ownership documents.

2. Conduct searches

Your solicitor will conduct Land Registry, local authority, environmental and drainage searches to check for issues and plans. Other searches include flood risk, mining searches and chancel repair liability. 

3. Finalise the purchase

The contracts are ready when:
  • You and your solicitor are happy with the answers to your questions
  • The solicitor has dealt with any issues from the survey report 
  • You have received an official mortgage offer
  • You have scheduled the payments for the deposit and completion date

What happens between exchange and legal completion?

Before legal completion, your solicitor will conduct final searches and draft a document to transfer your property ownership. They'll also prepare your mortgage funds to finalise the purchase.
You'll need to pay solicitor fees and Stamp Duty at this stage.

What is legal completion?

Legal completion means the house is officially yours. It usually occurs after the contract exchange and once your home is ready to move into. Contract exchange and legal completion may take place on the same day but are usually a week or two apart.

What happens after legal completion?

After legal completion, your solicitor will gather any outstanding payments and paperwork, including:
  • Stamp Duty (if applicable)
  • Your solicitor will register you with the Land Registry
  • Your solicitor will give you the receipt of their payment
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