2024 has seen house prices start to rise, the base rate continue to hold steady, and a big focus on digital conveyancing.

With market conditions improving for would-be buyers, Compare My Move has seen a 41% increase in people looking to purchase a house in the first quarter of 2024, compared with the last quarter of 2023. 

This has come alongside an increase in people searching for conveyancing online as the conveyancing world moves digitally. Compare My Move reports an 11.9% increase in people searching for conveyancing online compared to this time last year. 

As more people are searching for and using conveyancing digitally, Here’s a helpful roadmap to explain exactly what goes on in the conveyancing process when it comes to buying a house.

Pre-Contract Stage

The pre-contract stage of conveyancing is everything from finding the house that you like to the actual purchase of the house. This is arguably the most important part of the conveyancing process and can take four – 12 weeks because of this.

Instructing a conveyancing solicitor 

The first step in the conveyancing process is finding and instructing a conveyancing solicitor. It’s important that you find the right conveyancer for you, the price and experience of the conveyancer will change but you can use a conveyancing calculator to get an idea of what your specific costs will be. Once you have employed a solicitor, they will begin the buying process.

Draft contract and put forward any enquiries 

Your solicitor will review the first drafts of the contract that are put forward by the seller’s conveyancer, this is the stage where you and your conveyancer can put forward any enquiries to the seller’s solicitor, and agree on any necessary changes to the contract. 

Arranging a property survey

Your conveyancer will advise that you arrange a property survey on the house you are buying at this stage, a property survey will outline any issues with the house that you or the estate agent may not have noticed. There are multiple types of house surveys but the most popular ones when buying a house are the Level 2 and Level 3 surveys.

The Level 3 survey is a little more expensive than the Level 2 survey, but it covers a lot more structurally and is recommended if a property was built over 50 years ago, or has had renovations in the past. 

Conduct property searches

Your conveyancer will also conduct property searches. Unlike a house survey which focuses on the physical aspects of the house, the structural defects, dampness, damage to the property, etc. a property search will focus on the background history, risk assessments and environmental checks. 

Once the searches and surveys are done and you are happy with the contracts that your conveyancer and the seller’s conveyancer have drafted up, you have finished the pre-contract stage.

Finalising Your Mortgage 

Before you sign the contracts and start the exchange process, you will need to finalise your mortgage and ensure the funds are in place to make the purchase. Your conveyancer will take these funds from your lender, and inform the seller’s conveyancer that the exchange can go ahead.

Exchange

The exchange portion of the conveyancing journey is where everything is reviewed, signed, and exchanged in order to complete the purchase of the property. This part of the process is extremely thorough and will therefore likely take around 12 weeks to complete. 

Signing the contracts

When all aspects of the house are laid out and agreed upon, and both the buyer and the seller are clear on what they are buying and selling, then both parties will get identical contracts to look over with their conveyancer and, if all is agreed, sign. 

Exchanging the contracts

Once the contracts are signed, the exchange process can begin. Both the buyer’s conveyancer and seller’s conveyancer will read aloud and record each contract to ensure that they are identical and then send them to each other. Only when the contracts are exchanged, are the buyer and seller linked into a legally binding agreement and neither can back out without financial penalty.

Completion 

This is the end of the conveyancing process, when contracts are signed, the seller will give the keys to the property to the estate agent on the agreed-upon date you can then pick up the keys and the property is yours.