Common conveyancing questions answered

If you’re buying or selling a property, you will probably have lots of queries. Below are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

1.     How long will it take?

This depends on many factors, including the number of other people in your chain of conveyancing transactions, how long it takes to obtain a mortgage offer and search results and how quickly other parties want to move. As a very general guide, conveyancing can take 8 – 12 weeks, although it can be quicker or slower.

2.     When should I apply for a mortgage?

You can start looking for the right mortgage as soon as you decide you want to buy a property. You can then apply for a mortgage offer in principle before you find a property, which will help to avoid delay later on. It also demonstrates to potential sellers that you are a serious buyer and are ready to move.

3.     When should I instruct a solicitor?

Again, if you instruct a solicitor as soon as you decide to sell or buy, you will be able to pass on their details to an estate agent as soon as an offer is accepted. If you are selling, your solicitor will also be able to start putting together the necessary documentation for your buyer’s solicitor so that it is ready to go as soon as you accept an offer.

4.     Do I need a survey?

It is always recommended that you obtain a survey when buying property to avoid any nasty surprises later on. Your mortgage company will carry out a valuation, but this is purely to satisfy themselves that the amount of their loan is reasonable. It will not necessarily highlight property defects or disrepair.

There are different types of survey available. The RICS Home Condition Report is often commissioned for properties in good condition. The RICS Homebuyer’s Report will look in more detail at the property, including obvious structural issues and the condition of the roof. A building survey is usually recommended for an older or bigger property or if you are intending to carry out work.

5.     How does a conveyancing chain work?

When you buy and/or sell you are likely to be in a chain of people whose transactions depend on each other. You will need to wait until everyone in the chain is ready to exchange and then everyone will agree an acceptable completion date so that the whole chain can move together.

6.     Can someone pull out?

Until contracts are exchanged, someone can pull out of a property sale or purchase. Once contracts have been exchanged, they are legally bound to complete the transaction.

7.     What is the difference between exchange and completion?

Exchange of contracts normally takes place a week or two before completion. On exchange, you are legally agreeing to complete the sale or purchase on the specified date and at the specified price. Once exchange has happened you can prepare for your moving day. Completion is the day when you will move into your new home or hand over the keys to the property you are selling.

8.     What needs to be done before the exchange of contracts?

There is a long list of work to be done prior to exchanging contracts, particularly in respect of a purchase, including obtaining your mortgage offer, ordering searches, raising enquiries, checking over your survey results and renegotiating the price if necessary, checking title, making your deposit available and liaising with your chain to discuss a date for completion.

9.     How does joint ownership work?

If you are buying with someone else, you can own the property as joint tenants or as tenants in common. If you own as joint tenants, you own the property together equally. Should one of you die, the property automatically becomes owned by the survivor.

If you own the property as tenants in common, you will own it in specified shares, for example, 50:50 or 75:25. Should one of you die, their share will pass in accordance with the terms of their will.

At Tayntons we have wide experience in all areas of selling and buying property. If you would like to speak to one of our expert conveyancers, call us on 0800 158 4147 or request a call back and a member of our team will be in touch promptly.

To contact us please call 0800 158 4147 or 03330 145451 or email

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