How to find and choose a conveyancer

There are a few things to consider before instructing a conveyancer, including the type of service, location and cost.

Key points

  • You'll usually need a conveyancer for buying a house, selling, or both
  • Take recommendations from estate agents with a pinch of salt - they may end up costing you more
  • Compare fees to make sure you're getting the right service for your needs

Buying or selling a home can be stressful, time consuming and a right hassle or it could be quick, easy and painless - and a good solicitor or conveyancer can make it go one way or the other.

Your legal representation plays a big part in the house-buying process, and once you've had an offer accepted on a property they're one of the first people you call, along with your mortgage adviser.

Your conveyancer will manage the legal side of house-buying for you - they'll check different aspects of the property, work with the seller's solicitor, arrange the transfer of money and draw up contracts.

You'll also need a conveyancer to sell your home, although less work is usually involved for this process.

It's safe to say their role is integral, so instructing the right one for your needs is essential.

Think about what you want

The way we buy legal services has changed beyond recognition in recent years. In the past your local solicitor would deal with your house sale, your divorce and your will, all under one roof.

Now, you can instruct conveyancers online, buy partial services and never see your solicitor in the flesh. While this type of conveyancing will probably be the cheapest, think about what you need from your conveyancer.

Most online conveyancing is done remotely, and your provider could be based miles away. If you instruct a large firm you might never speak to the same person twice, and may not have a direct point of contact for your case.

Buying a home infographicAlternatively, solicitors in your town or city may not have online case management, so you won't be able to 'check in' at any time to see where you are in the process.

It's important to decide what kind of service you want and choose a conveyancer who you think is the best fit for your needs.

Solicitor v conveyancer

While a lot of people might think the two terms are interchangeable, a solicitor is a qualified lawyer while a licenced conveyancer specialises in property. 

The service you're given won't differ much between the two - even if you go to a solicitor they may have an in-house conveyancer, who does this type of work for them.

How to find a conveyancer

When you're buying a home, estate agents and brokers may try to recommend conveyancers for you to use - be wary of these recommendations, as they will usually be based on a commercial relationship and not on whether their service is good.

Ask family and friends if they can recommend anyone and check reviews and recommendations online before choosing a conveyancer

Conveyancers recommended this way may also be more expensive, so it's important to shop around yourself.

Better yet, ask family and friends if they can recommend anyone and check reviews and recommendations online before choosing a conveyancer.

Your mortgage lender may only work for free with solicitors or conveyancers who are on their panel - ask what panels conveyancers are on, or speak to your lender about recommending one.

If your solicitor or conveyancer isn't on the lender's panel you can still use them, but you may have to pay extra fees.

Make sure whoever you choose is regulated by their relevant body. Solicitors are members of the Law Society while conveyancers must join the Council for Licenced Conveyancers.

Compare conveyancing fees

Solicitors work their fees out in different ways, but they'll usually be able to give you a quote once they know a few details. It's a good idea to get quotes from a few firms, before deciding which to opt for.

Make sure the costs are listed individually and includes costs that don't go directly to the conveyancer, called disbursements - these include searches, stamp duty and land registry fees.

Double check whether disbursements are included and query any that aren't shown.

Make sure you take into account VAT, and question any quotes that are significantly lower than other - it's might be because something has been left out.

Are they no move, no fee?

Unfortunately, house sales fall through frequently and it's usually the buyer who ends up out of pocket.

Check with your lawyer how much you'll pay if the sale doesn't happen. Some disbursements - such as searches - need to be paid up front and are sometimes non-refundable, although some solicitors offer to conduct searches on your next property for free.

Some offer 'no move, no fee' deals, but check to make sure that this includes everything and doesn't exclude thing like disbursements. 

What conveyancing involves

Every house purchase and sale will differ, but as a rule a conveyancer will deal with a number of different elements.

When you've found a solicitor you want to instruct, they'll send you a letter of engagement to confirm they're acting for you.

Let your estate agent know who's working for you, as they'll need to send a memorandum of sale.

The solicitor will then receive the property information form and the fixtures and fittings form - these will detail everything related to the property. They will go through this with you and make sure nothing is amiss. How to cut the cost of your mortgage


Once this is done, they'll organise searches. These will check different things, including local authority information which will detail local land charges, whether the building is listed and so on.

Your mortgage

Your lender will supply your conveyancer with details of your mortgage loan offer and deposit.

Signing your contract

Once all enquiries have been replied to, your solicitor will ask you to sign the contract and transfer your deposit funds in their account, so that they can be cleared in time for the exchange.

Exchange of contracts

At this point your lender will need you to have a buildings insurance policy in place, before you can exchange.

Once everyone's happy, the buyer and seller will sign and exchange contracts and decide on a completion date. At this point things become legally binding.

Your deposit will be sent to the seller's solicitor and your solicitor will let you know how much you owe them in fees and when you need to pay.

Your conveyancer will draw up a transfer deed, which you'll need to sign and this will then be transferred into your name upon completion. 


On the day of completion your solicitor will work with your lender to ensure that the money makes its way to the seller. Once this has happened the seller will then usually drop the keys off at the estate agent.

Get the most out of your conveyancer

Whatever type of conveyancer you go for, sometimes they're only as good as you make them.

Whether it's checking in with them regularly to ensure things are running smoothly or making sure nothing is amiss, buyers need to help their lawyer do the best job they can.

Talk and ask questions

While a good conveyancer is key to your property purchase, you're pretty important too. Your solicitor only knows what the legal documents tell them - unlike you, they won't go and see the property and will only deal with paperwork.

If you're worried about something or unsure about something related to your title plan - the full outline of what you're buying - or contract, it's essential to tell them.

If there are thing you want to know - such as information about planning permission, local authority information, etc - then ask your solicitor to conduct the relevant search.

Ask them what information they can find out and they should give you details of every search they could conduct.


Unhappy with your conveyancer? They may have been slow, uncommunicative or just plain bad.

Complain - you're paying them all that money for a reason, and if the service you get isn't up to scratch there are places you can go if you can't resolve your complaint with them. 

The Legal Ombudsman can deal with a complaint, as can the Law Society or the Council for Licenced Conveyancers.

By Emily Bater