How to speed up the conveyancing process | Secrets straight from a lawyer

Written by Saracens Solicitors

02035883500 –

Buying and selling a home can often send you on an emotional roller-coaster.  There is the excitement and exhilaration of selling your home for the right price, finding your new dream home and moving in.  However, alongside there can be feelings of irritation, impatience and the endless asking of, “why haven’t I heard from my solicitor yet?”.

Jo Barker and her husband have just sold their first home and are waiting to move into a wonderful family property with their three year old daughter.  She expresses many peoples’ frustration well when she says, “We are now in the period where we have handed over all the documents and everything has gone quiet.  It feels like it is taking forever!”

Varsha Shah is one of the senior conveyancers at Saracens Solicitors and has been assisting people to buy and sell their property for over ten years. Here she lets you in on a few conveyancing secrets so you can understand why the process takes time, and offers ideas on how you can hurry the procedure along so you can sell up, move in, and get on with the next stage of your life.

Everybody wants to know why the conveyancing process can weeks to complete.  Could you please tell us briefly what is involved in a standard transaction?

I always tell my clients that a property transaction is like a jigsaw; all the pieces of the puzzle have to come together to complete the transaction.  The process starts with the lawyer receiving instructions after the seller and purchaser have agreed on a price.  I will then receive all the details from the agent, make contact with the other side’s solicitor, examine the sale and purchase contract and perform the necessary searches.  A standard, uncomplicated property sale can however be completed in four to six weeks.

Speed tip for the client: Remember to keep in touch. By this I mean keep in touch with your agent and your buyer / seller to ensure small issues do not derail the process. It’s so much easier to pick a phone and agree something between you than to allow a stubborn conveyancer to derail your process.

What is the most time consuming part of the process?

The pre-exchange period (where the contracts are being reviewed) is definitely the most time-consuming.  I have to rely on third parties to send me search information and relevant documents such as mortgage agreements so I can review them and discuss any issues with the client.  I always keep working on a file while I am waiting for information so I can complete the transaction as soon as possible.  I know how keen clients are to receive the keys to their new house!

Speed tip for the client: Ask your advisor to keep you blind copied on all outgoing emails. It will keep you updated (allowing you to spot any issues early) and will avoid that eerie silence.

What types of surveys are done on a property I buy?  Why do I need so many? Does this slow down the process?

Ok let me deal with each one at a time.

If you are buying with a mortgage then a survey has to be done anyway so there are no additional delays if you wish to opt for a full survey.

Many clients are confused between a valuation report and a full survey (sometimes referred to as a Home Buyer’s Survey) believing them to be same.  They are not. A valuation is performed for the benefit of the mortgage lender, not the buyer. A survey on the other hand highlights any defects which may be present in the property.  When a client asks me whether they should spend the money on full survey I remind them that they are “not buying a ‘Mickey Mouse’ watch”. The small price you pay for a full survey is worth the peace of mind you receive knowing your investment is sound.  And remember, if defects are found, a buyer can use the information to negotiate a better purchase price or ask to have the defects repaired before the sale is completed.

Speed tip for the client: Ask your lender to upgrade you from a valuation report to a full home buyer’s survey. It will then all be done at the same time and will save you money.

What is meant by ‘no chain’?  Does having no chain speed the process up?

If the estate agent advises you that there is ‘no chain’ it means that the buyer interested in your property does not have to sell another house in order to be able to purchase yours.  If there is no chain involved the process is definitely a lot faster.

How can I ensure I pick a speedy but good conveyancer?

Look for a firm that holds a Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) certificate, which is accredited by the Law Society.  This accreditation recognises exceptional service within the area of conveyancing practice.

Speed tip for the client: As well as CQS look out for other accreditations such as Lexcel. These are badges of excellence and will mean you are in good hands with advisors that know what they are doing and can act quickly.

What can I do as a vendor or purchaser to help my lawyer complete the sale and/or purchase of my house as soon as possible?

That’s easy, just be organised!  Make sure you have kept any documents relating to planning permissions and guarantees for work done on the property and keep them in order.  An awful lot of stress can be taken out of the sale and purchase process if you can find everything you need to give to your lawyer quickly and easily.

For legal help with fulfilling all types of home ownership dreams, contact Saracens Solicitors residential conveyancing department on 020 3588 3500 or at

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