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Conveyancing timeline: What’s the process and how long does it take?

We get it – conveyancing can feel like a big, confusing part of buying or selling a home. But we’re here to make conveyancing make sense.

Conveyancing simply means the preparation and completion of documents for legally transferring (conveying) property ownership from one person to another. The process all includes looking into factors that affect the property like the title deeds and information from property searches.

But what’s the conveyancing process and how long does it take? We break it all down in this step-by-step guide. Let’s break it down.


How long does conveyancing take?

We know that you’re eager to move forward with your new chapter. When it comes to conveyancing timelines, we wish we could give you an exact date to circle on the calendar. But the truth is, each property transaction is unique.

Conveyancing can take anywhere from 12 – 24 weeks on average. For some, it may be less. For others, it could be longer. There are a lot of moving pieces that affect the conveyancing timeline, property searches, chain complexity, and negotiations to name a few.

We know it can be frustrating to feel like you’re stuck in limbo but know that we’ll be here as your guide each step of the way, keeping you updated on progress and answering any questions.

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The conveyancing timeline and process

We’re giving a broad overview of the conveyancing timeline for both buying and selling here. But if you want a more specific guide, check out our seller’s guide or buyer’s guide that outlines exactly what happens after an offer has been accepted.

Let’s get into how long conveyancing takes in this complete step-by-step guide.


Step 1 – Pre-instruction

Deciding whether buying or selling is right for you

Buying or selling a home is a huge decision. Even if you’ve moved before, it’s totally normal to feel overwhelmed. This is likely one of the biggest purchases or life changes you’ll ever make.

Before diving in to the conveyancing timeline, it’s important to pause and make sure this is the right move for you. Buying or selling is a big step, and the decision shouldn’t be rushed.

If you’re a first-time buyer, this is all going to be quite new to you, there’s a lot to learn and consider. But you can find everything you’ll need to know in our first-time buyer’s guide.

Or maybe you’re a first-time seller, this can be an equally daunting process, if you need some guidance you can check out how to sell your home here.

Putting in an offer or accepting an offer

We know the excitement and nerves of putting in or accepting an offer. As big as this moment feels, try to take a deep breath. Buying or selling a home is a marathon, not a sprint.

If you’re a buyer and you’re first offer isn’t accepted, don’t sweat it. You can always go back to the negotiating table. And sellers – you’re not obligated to accept the very first offer. Take time to carefully weigh all your options to find the right fit.

Here are a few tips for when you get here.

For buyers:

  • Make an offer you feel good about – don’t overextend
  • Be open to negotiation and compromise
  • Ask for support on your strategy from those who have experience

For sellers:

  • Consider all factors – not just the highest offer
  • Think about the type of buyer and timing needs
  • Consult your agent for advice if needed

Find a conveyancer

Choosing a conveyancer sounds easier than it is. There’s a lot on the market and a lot to consider.

Purchasing or selling a property is a big transaction, make sure you choose a conveyancer that you trust. Here are some tips to consider when it comes to choosing:

  • Evaluate their communication style. How often will they update you? Is it easy to contact them? Who will you directly work with? Good communication prevents headaches.
  • Read client reviews for unbiased opinions. Check Google, Trustpilot, and social media. Compare conveyancers to get a sense of service quality.
  • Ask about their use of technology for updates, document sharing, ID checks and more. Outdated processes can cause delays and added stress.
  • Look for transparent pricing. Review inclusions/exclusions closely, ask questions, and avoid assumptions.
  • Inquire about their caseload and support staff. Do they rely on assistants versus directly handling your transaction?

Trust Eden as your conveyancer

At Eden, we believe buying or selling a home should be a smooth, enjoyable experience. And so, our team take the stress out of the process by making sure you are looked after and guided every step of the way.

You’ll also have your own dedicated property lawyer who will manage your whole case.

No more jargon. No more stressful chasing. No unclear fees. Just simple, transparent conveyancing.

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Step 2 – Instruction (a few days – 2 weeks)

You’ve found the perfect home or buyer, and the offer has been accepted – congratulations! Now comes the important step of instructing (hiring) your conveyancer to handle the legal side of things. We recommend getting your conveyancer on board ASAP to get the ball rolling. The sooner you can kick start the conveyancing timeline, the better.

At this stage, your conveyancer will need some key details from you about both yourself and the property transaction. Things like your name, ID, contact info, property address, purchase or sale prices, mortgage details and more.

The quicker you can provide this crucial information, the faster your conveyancer can get started on the legal work for your purchase or sale. Slow responses from you will slow down the whole process. We encourage you to be as responsive as possible to your conveyancer’s request so you can complete sooner.

Step 3 – Pre-exchange (4 weeks – 12 weeks)

Once your conveyancer has done the necessary checks to ensure the property transaction can legally go ahead, you’ll enter the pre-exchange stage. This is the longest stage of the conveyancing process as it involves a lot of preparation before contracts can be exchanged.

The complexity of the sale, the responsiveness of everyone involved, and potential hiccups impact the timeline here. Both the buyer’s and seller’s conveyancer communicate throughout the pre-exchange to draft contracts, review searches, and address any questions.

Here’s what happens during the pre-exchange phase:

Property searches – the buyer’s conveyancer conducts searches to gather key details about the property. This includes checks with the local authority, as well as environmental and drainage searches.

Surveys and valuations – the buyer may choose to arrange a survey to assess the property’s condition. If mortgaging, the lender often requires a valuation. Any issues uncovered can extend timelines if problems arise that need negotiating or fixing.

Negotiations – both parties may need to negotiate any concerns from searches, surveys, or other aspects of the transaction.

Legal paperwork – Both conveyancers prepare and finalise essential documents like the contract of sale and supporting paperwork.

Mortgage approval – If the buyer is obtaining a mortgage, they must secure a formal offer. The conveyancer will then clarify the title before completion.

Exchange and completion date – suitable exchange and completion dates must be agreed upon by both the buyer and seller, as well as factoring in the impact of the property chain.

Resolving issues – Conveyancers work to resolve any outstanding issues (from searches, queries etc.) so everything is settled before exchanging contracts.

Deposit clear – Before exchange, the buyer’s conveyancer ensures the deposit is ready, to either send on exchange or be held to order for completion.

To Do List

Step 4 – Exchange of contracts (1 day)

Exchanging contracts is a big day, a legally binding day. You would have agreed on a date in the pre-exchange stage as part of your negotiations with the seller.

When the day rolls around, your conveyancer will send your signed contract to the other party’s conveyancer, and they will do the same. Exchanging contracts legally obligate the buyer and seller to the property transaction.

Take a breath, the property transaction needs to happen now. The buyer must purchase the home, and the seller must sell it. If either party were to back out now, they risk losing or having to return the deposit already paid.

Step 5 – Pre-completion (7 - 28 days, or whatever is agreed)

Whether it’s taken you 3 months, 6 months, or more, you’ve come a long way to get to this stage. Now you can breathe a sigh of relief as the period of uncertainty is wrapping up.

You just need to wait for the completion day to roll around now. The completion day was agreed upon during the pre-exchange stage by everyone involved. This could be as little as a week after the exchange, or up to whenever is agreed, there is no minimum or maximum requirement.

Between the exchange of contracts and completion, it’s time to get ready. As a buyer, book your removals team for moving day and start packing early – don’t leave it until the last minute. As a seller, you may need to do the same, but also ensure the property is left in the agreed contractual condition.

Aim to pack non-essentials first, working up to daily essentials as you near completion. We know that it can feel stressful and tiring, but the finish line is close now. Try to enjoy this time getting organised and starting your next chapter.

Step 6 – Completion (1 day)

Completion day is finally here – moving day for both the buyer and the seller. This long-awaited milestone involves:

  • The seller vacating the home by an agreed time (typically around midday)
  • The buyer’s conveyancer transfers the purchase funds to the seller’s conveyancer
  • Once the funds are cleared, the keys can be released from the estate agent to the buyer

This is the day when the property ownership officially transfers and the buyer can move into their new home. The seller finishes moving out and goes on to whatever they have planned next.

We know it’s an action-packed day. To help you prepare, check out our full guide to everything that happens on completion day.

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Front Door

Step 7 – post-completion

Although you’ve moved in, there is still a bit of work that your conveyancer needs to do to tie up a couple of loose ends.

For buyers:

  • Your conveyancer pays any owed stamp duty on your behalf
  • They also update the Land Registry record to show the property’s new owner. This can take some time to finalise after your move-in but has no impact on you moving in and living in your new home.

For sellers:

  • You simply pay any remaining fees owed, such as to your conveyancer, estate agent, or other parties involved in the sale. These usually come out of the sale proceeds.

And that’s it – you’ve completed the purchase or sale of your property. We know that it can be a long journey, but it will all be worth it in the end. Congrats on making it to the finish line!

How to avoid delays in conveyancing

We know buying or selling a property is an exciting time. You likely want to get everything finalised as quickly as possible. Here are some tips to help you avoid delays in the conveyancing process:

Start strongly: Have your conveyancer lined up and ready to start their work as soon as they can. It’s up to you to make sure this happens. Ensure you know which conveyancer you’re going with before accepting/having an offer accepted.

Close contact: Stay in close contact with your conveyancer throughout the process. The more available you are to promptly answer their questions and provide any information they need, the faster they can process your transaction.

Chain reactions: Be mindful of your chain (if you’re in one). If someone above you in the chain unexpectedly backs out, it can create significant delays that stall everything. While you can’t control this, do consider the chain length and stability when first inquiring about a sale or purchase.

Choose wisely: Take time to research and choose experienced professionals that you trust. Things tend to move faster when you have a knowledgeable conveyancer, surveyor, estate agent, and other third parties on your team.

Act fast: If you encounter an issue that needs resolving, act fast to keep the transaction on track. Maybe problems arise from the survey, and you need to renegotiate, or perhaps your mortgage offer expired, and you need to reapply. Whatever the issue, act fast to avoid delays.

Keep it flexible: Try to remain as flexible as possible throughout the process. With so many moving parts, being less rigid where you can make everything go much smoother. This is especially important if you’re buying or selling during an exceptionally busy time of year.

How long does conveyancing take with no chain?

It’s great news if you’re buying or selling and are not a part of a chain. Without waiting for other transactions, the process tends to move faster and carries less risk. Not being in a chain means you don’t have to worry about other transactions falling through and impacting yours.

While no chain is ideal, some potential hiccups can still pop up. The rest of the process is the same. For instance, the buyer may still uncover issues in a survey, searches could stall things, or someone involved may be unresponsive. No chain doesn’t guarantee faster conveyancing.

It’s impossible to say exactly how long conveyancing will take without a chain, as most factors still apply. We would suggest expecting the process to last just as long, and if you can complete sooner, great.


Is the timeline different for new build homes?

Purchasing a new build property involves a slightly more complex conveyancing process compared to buying an existing home. It takes more work but doesn’t necessarily mean it will take longer overall.

Here’s what you need to know.

Developers often want a quick turnaround time to access funds faster and progress construction. So, they may require faster timelines.

You may buy mid-construction or before building even starts, so changes or delays can impact the conveyancing process.

New build conveyancing is more complex because your conveyancer must review permissions and deeds for the entire estate to determine what applies to your property. Whereas with existing properties, they only need to review documents for the individual building.

If you want to learn more and get a full step-by-step process check out our guide to new build conveyancing here.

Frequently asked questions

Why does the conveyancing timeline differ for everyone and how can it be delayed?

The conveyancing timeline will differ for everyone because each property transaction is unique. Things that impact your timeline include:

  • Property type: Leasehold properties tend to take longer than freehold properties.
  • Property chains: If you are part of a chain of linked buyers and sellers, this can introduce delays as each transaction relies on one another.
  • Results of searches: If any conveyancing searches uncover issues like boundary disputes or planning limitations, resolving these may take time.
  • Response times: Delays from the buyer, seller, conveyancers, estate agents, or any other parties in providing promptly requested information can cause setbacks.
  • Construction delays: For new build purchases, delays in the building schedule will impact when the conveyancing can be completed.

When does the conveyancing timeline start?

The conveyancing timeline officially starts once an offer on a property has been accepted by the seller and the conveyancers are instructed by both parties.

At this point, the buyer’s conveyancer will order initial property searches and begin gathering documentation from the seller’s conveyancer to initiate their due diligence checks. The sooner all parties engage conveyancing professionals after an offer has been accepted, the quicker the process can begin.

What can speed up the conveyancing timeline?

While you can’t control some aspects of the conveyancing timeline, there are certainly some strategies you can adhere to to help the process move forward:

  • Open communication: With multiple parties involved, frequent communication, progress tracking, and proactively resolving issues are crucial.
  • Be realistic: Set realistic timelines from the start and remain flexible where possible. Trying to rush things invites chaos.
  • Managing paperwork: There’s going to be a lot of documents to review and sign. Ensuring you stay on top of this and keep copies of every form, report, and document along the way allows you to quickly reference anything needed.
  • Use an experienced conveyancer: Choosing the right conveyancer is key, make sure to research and request quotes from a few at least to find a good match.

Conveyancing, without the confusion

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