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It takes quite a while to finish a conveyancing process, taking anywhere from six to eight weeks, on average. It could be longer for some situations, especially ones involving properties with issues like missing deeds. Conveyancing solicitors, no matter how experienced, will find it challenging to give an accurate timeline for any transaction. This situation often leaves people wondering why it takes so long to finish the process.

What happens at a conveyancing

To know why conveyancing takes weeks, sometimes even months, you must understand what goes on. You could already be aware of some procedures. Perhaps you had filled in paperwork, which your lawyer must verify and file, after which they must request papers from the seller, which could take a similar amount of time. In all, you would have already spent a couple of weeks on this exchange alone.

You also need a local authority search. This document provides information on the surrounding area and how it affects the sale, and it takes around three weeks to prepare. Sometimes, it takes longer to finish. In addition to these, you must factor in the time spent drafting transfer deeds and arranging for the mortgage.

Delays are part of the process

The shortest conveyancing procedures take around one and a half months. Delays can occur for several reasons. For instance, you could be dealing with a property with a long chain and be relying on the moving dates and mortgages of several people.

You could also experience delays in local search, especially if you're buying or selling a house during the summer. It could take up to five weeks to complete this process during peak times.

Also, you must account for unexpected paperwork. Examples of these are sellers who had renovations done on their property and need to find the relevant documents or buyers who are getting financial help from parties outside the transaction.

What can you do to avoid delays?

Buying or selling your property requires you to prepare for several common problems. Here are some of the things you could do to avoid issues during the conveyancing process.

Instruct solicitors when you get an offer

Once you agree on a purchase, you need to instruct the conveyancer to carry out the legal aspects of the transfer. You need to do this right after you decide on the offer. Prepare for this by comparing conveyancing quotes beforehand and selecting a provider even before the agreement. Doing this lets you get things working immediately; the estate agent will require your conveyancing details soon after you agree on an offer, and having a name on hand will smooth things along.

Prepare for a seller accepting another offer

Although it can be frustrating, it is legal to accept any offer on a property if there are no legally binding contracts in place. The seller can take a higher offer from another buyer, even if you're several steps into the conveyancing process already.

When this happens, you can match the new buyer's price, negotiate a middle ground, or drop out of the sale. If you are further along with the conveyancing, the seller might be willing to accept the lower offer since you can complete the process quicker than the new buyer.

Complete the mortgage survey and valuation

It does not take long to complete a mortgage valuation; it usually lasts around 15 to 20 minutes. It could take the lender a while to arrange for one, so getting it out of the way early on will make the conveyancing process a little faster. 

Sometimes, the property needs a more in-depth survey, which would naturally take longer. In addition to these delays, there is also the natural bottleneck of getting the paperwork and reports written out.

Ensure the proper collection of funds

Delays on mortgage approvals have a knock-on effect on the process. Your conveyancing solicitor should probably use a Clearing House Automated Payment System to complete the transfer. Though it has a fee, it is faster than transferring money through a cheque.

Check if the mortgage is valid

Approval for a mortgage lasts anywhere from three to six months. If it expires before the conveyancing process finishes, you need to apply for a new one, which would make the timeline even longer. Discuss how to fit this in your time frame with your solicitor when you compare conveyancing quotes.

Ensure smooth local authority searches

Your conveyancing solicitor must order local authority searches, which could take anywhere from days to weeks. You will know how much it would cost or how long it would take to have this procedure when you compare conveyancing fees and see what different lawyers write under disbursements. Local authority searches involve checking planning permissions, water supply, flooding and mining records, among others.

Examine planning or building permissions

Mortgage lenders require solicitors to examine necessary building regulations and planning permits. They must show proof that there had been approvals for the changes or adaptations on a property.

Even if there won't be a mortgage involved, your solicitor needs to examine all necessary permits and ensure that the contractors carried out changes in a way that meets local standards. If they do not plan for this, you might need to conduct one later on, for whatever reason, and find that you must accommodate them anyway.

Remember that there are various people involved

There are plenty of delays in the conveyancing process, and not all of them come from your end. This situation is beyond your control, so you must be as patient with it as possible. In any case, your solicitors would monitor the chain and tell you right away if there are complications to address. No one wants to deal with costly breakdowns.

Also, when you receive your quotes, ask your solicitor if situations like these would affect the conveyancing fees. Lawyers are duty-bound to expedite the process and minimise costs, but you should still be wise about choosing your legal representative. It is important to get different conveyancing quotes for various solicitors. You can do this online, and you can even discuss fees with them before making your commitment.

Your solicitor will be in charge of letting you know about all the developments, so make sure you get someone experienced in transactions involving similar properties. Also, you can ensure faster conveyancing if your paperwork is up-to-date and if you immediately inform your lawyer of anything that could affect the process.


Transferring ownership of a property is a time-consuming process. If you don't partner with a solicitor right away, you could get stuck in a bureaucratic slump for weeks or months, which could cause all sorts of complications for the transaction.

Find the best solicitor for you with us at Conveyancing Calculator. We help buyers and sellers save hundreds of £s by letting them compare conveyancing fees for licenced conveyancing professionals in the UK. We provide quotes only from SRA-regulated experts; find a lawyer today or contact us for more enquiries.


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