What does a conveyancer do?

Buying a new home can become complicated and stressful if you don’t use a professional conveyancing service. But what does a conveyancer do and why are they so important?

We look at what’s involved in carrying out this role, along with the different checks required when you are looking to buy a property.





The role of a conveyancer


Conveyancing is an area of law relating to the preparation of documents relating to the sale of a property. It involves a series of important searches and checks. Using a qualified and regulated conveyancer or property solicitor will ensure you have full clarity on the property before you buy. A thorough conveyancing service gives you full peace of mind, especially as moving house is considered to be one of the top three stressful life events we encounter.


When you buy a property, a conveyancer or residential property solicitor manages the administrative paperwork, which includes transferring the legal ownership. Working on your behalf, they will research everything you need to know about the property. They will carry out important local searches and check the property boundaries. Your conveyancer will negotiate key dates with the seller’s solicitor and get the contract ready for you to sign.


What are the searches conveyancers carry out?


Below is a list of the searches that need to be made by a conveyancer before you buy a property:

  • Local authority search – considered to be the most important type of search, this gives you information held by the local authority on planning permissions and restrictions. It also shows your responsibilities relating to any adjoining roads and pathways.

  • Land Registry search – as your solicitor needs to prove that the seller is the legal owner of the property you are buying, they will check the ‘title register’ and the ‘title plan’ through the Land Registry. These checks are legally required for the sale of the property to go ahead.

  • Environmental search - this search establishes whether a property is built on or near contaminated land or water, and it will also identify any risk of flooding. If the property was built on land previously used for industrial purposes, there could be toxic substances in the ground. Your mortgage lender might insist on this search.

  • Water authority search - this search identifies where your water comes from and the location of any public drains on the property. This search is important because it could affect any building work you wish to do in the future, such as a house extension.

  • Location specific search – this type of search might be suggested by your solicitor and will depend on the area where you are looking to buy a property. If the area was previously used for mining, for example, it might be wise to arrange for a mining search to be done. If the property is on unstable ground, there could be a risk of subsidence.

In some cases, your conveyancer might also recommend that you have a chancel repair search, which costs just a few pounds. This might be necessary to establish whether you could be liable for the cost of repairs to a parish church. In October 2013 a change in law came into place, and the church now has to lodge a liability with the Land Registry.


When should you engage a conveyancer?


Once you have found a property you wish to buy and you have agreed an offer, you should engage a conveyancer. They will oversee the process of transferring the legal ownership of your chosen property, and they will carry out all the necessary searches. They will also liaise with the seller’s solicitor, and they will help you manage all aspects of the house sale.


Do not proceed with a property purchase unless you have engaged a professional conveyancer. Sadly, you get what you pay for in the conveyancing world. Cheap conveyancing rates often lead to an incomplete service with errors, which is an added worry at an already stressful time. Moving house has been cited as one of the most stressful events in a person’s life, so it’s important to make sure you can trust your conveyancer.


Our experienced residential conveyancing department includes qualified property solicitors and conveyancers, so you will benefit from a wealth of expertise. We offer competitive fixed fees, and you will always be provided with clear details of our fees before we start working with you. We can help you with residential freehold or leasehold sale or purchase, property remortgaging, along with shared ownership sale and purchase.


If you need a conveyancer or advice on a property matter, get in touch or email: s.swift@shbsolicitors.co.uk to arrange a face-to-face or telephone appointment.