Conveyancing is the process of transferring property ownership from one person to another. It exists because homes and commercial premises are more valuable than most other items people buy. Conveyancing acts as an extra layer of security and legality protecting transacting parties. 

But just how long does conveyancing take in 2024? The conveyancing process in the UK lasts from 12 to 16 weeks (or roughly 3 to 4 months). However, the actual period can differ substantially. As a rule, simple transactions take less time than complex ones but the quality of the conveyancing firm, timelines, chains, and deed-related issues can also have an effect. 

In this post, we’re going to go into the specifics of how long conveyancing takes. We’ll explain the process, the factors that delay completion, and how long conveyancing takes without a chain. Once you finish reading it, you should feel more confident about the conveyancing process as a whole.

How long does conveyancing take?

We mentioned above conveyancing takes roughly 12 to 16 weeks. However,  you can break down the process into individual stages. 

Most conveyancers will provide a dashboard showing you these steps explicitly. These let you tick off each one for peace of mind and to keep track of what to do next. 


Stages of the conveyancing process

Stages of the conveyancing process

We’ve already outlined what conveyancing is, but below we’re going to provide a more detailed breakdown of the different stages of the conveyancing process, and how long each step takes.

Pre-contract work – approx. 2 weeks

Pre-contract work refers to tasks immediately after the seller accepts your offer. (Your estate agent will confirm this or tell you about competing bids from other buyers). 

The first step is to liaise with the seller’s solicitor. You can obtain this information from the seller or via their estate agent. Your conveyancers will then talk to theirs and begin drafting the contract.

Mortgage offer – approx. 4 weeks

The next step is to go to a lender for an official mortgage offer (if you plan to use a loan to finance your purchase). You will need to submit information demonstrating you can afford the borrowing, including: 

•    Your annual income
•    Credit history
•    Existing or outstanding debts (including credit card balances)
•    Job status and situation
•    Future income potential

Ideally, you want to get mortgage pre-approval before making an offer on a house. Here, banks provide you with an “agreement in principle” based on the initial information you provide.  

Draft contract – approx. 2-10 weeks

With the mortgage application underway, it is time to draft the contract. Conveyancers will create this by assembling information from the Land Registry, the seller and you. It should contain the property price, title number, and address and can take several weeks, depending on how long it takes to obtain the relevant information.

Searches and surveys

During this phase, conveyancers will conduct local authority searches (a process that can take anywhere from 10 to 25 days). These provide more information about the property, such as access rights, flood risk, and whether future developments will affect neighbouring areas. 

Surveys focus more on the property itself, physically inspecting the roof, foundation, and fitting issues. Most homebuyers opt for a Level 2 report, which involves going into the property and investigating the walls, appliances, masonry and other building elements. 

However, buyers wanting to purchase the most expensive or complex properties might opt for a Level 3 survey. These go into more depth and explore the materials used in every part of the building (such as asbestos) with insights into whether the property makes sense as a purchase. At the end, you get a full report of the findings. 

If surveys and searches throw up issues, raise them with the vendor. Further price negotiation is possible at this stage, especially if you discover something that makes the property less attractive (such as being on a flood plain or filled with asbestos). 

Exchange of contracts to completion – approx. 1-2 weeks

Once you complete all pre-contract enquiries and your solicitor has your mortgage funds, it is time to exchange contracts. This step can only proceed if both parties agree and you resolve all outstanding issues.

Exchanging contracts means passing paperwork between the two parties to finalise the transaction.

Completion day

Completion day refers to the final step where you receive the keys, if buying a property(usually from the estate agent). Rules state sellers must vacate the property by a certain time, usually noon on the day. 

The completion day can be the same as the exchange of contracts, or it can be another day – it’s up to the parties involved. 


After completion, conveyancers continue working with you to finalise the purchase and ensure security. Their primary task is to complete a new deed and put it on the Land Registry, confirming you as the new property owner. Solicitors may also suggest taking out insurance if there are unseen or unknown risks associated with property ownership.

Average time from exchange to completion

Given the above, the average time to completion is around 12 to 16 weeks. However, it can be longer under various circumstances. Quality conveyancers should tell you if you are at risk during the early stages to manage your expectations.

Factors that can delay completion - and how to avoid them

Factors that can delay completion - and how to avoid them

The following are various factors that can delay completion:

There's a delay in getting a mortgage offer

Lenders can be reluctant to lend large sums of money to buyers if they don’t believe they can repay. Consequently, banks and building societies may ask for additional information, such as invoices for self-employed individuals proving financial inflows, lengthening the process. There may also be delays in special circumstances such as getting a mortgage for an auction property.

To avoid: Get mortgage pre-approval or make offers on more affordable properties

The seller delays giving access to a survey

Vendors can sometimes block survey permission, causing further delays. Those selling a property may forbid surveyors from inspecting their properties, preventing the transaction from moving to the final exchange of contracts. 

To avoid: Talk to the owner politely or speak to the estate agent


The survey reveals defects that need attention

Surveys may also reveal defects requiring attention. These could include things like a leaking roof, problems with the wiring, or evidence of subsidence. 

The more serious the problem, the longer the delay will be. Buyers can ask sellers to resolve the issue at the existing asking price or submit a lower offer to reflect the new valuation. 

To avoid: Seek new or refurbished properties


There's a hold-up in obtaining search results

Hold-ups in obtaining search results are another problem. Staffing shortages and budget cuts at local councils can mean obtaining searches takes more than the usual ten days.

Furthermore, the information in searches may be wrong. In these cases, local authorities must perform additional on-the-ground inspections to determine whether current data is accurate. 

To avoid: Ask your conveyancer to obtain a timeline from the local authority


The seller is looking for another property

Sellers looking for another property can also slow things down. You might be happy with your purchase, but they may be undecided regarding theirs. 

To avoid: Find sellers who have already put in an offer or have no onward chain


There is a long chain of sales and purchases

Finally, long chains of sales and purchases inevitably lead to delays. Usually, there are one or two weak links where buyers can’t obtain the mortgage they need or change their mind on the property purchase, holding everyone else up. 

To avoid: Find sellers with no onward chain

How long should conveyancing take with no chain?

How long should conveyancing take with no chain?

Without a chain, conveyancing still takes a while. Some conveyancers can offer expedited services reducing times to 8 to 12 weeks, but it often depends on how busy they are and whether there are issues with the sale.

There are problems with the seller's title

For example, you are more likely to run into delays if there are discrepancies in the seller’s title. Conveyancers may be unwilling to proceed if unresolved third-party claims against the property exist.

Common problems with the seller’s title include: 

•    Missing information in the Land Registry
•    Defects in the seller’s chain of title, including errors in previous transactions
•    Parcels of land included in the sale that remain unregistered

There's a delay in getting the seller's replies to enquiries

Sometimes delays can also occur because the seller doesn’t respond to enquiries. Most sellers are keen to get on with the transaction, but some may be busy or just dislike admin. Solicitors and estate agents can urge vendors to respond. However, they only have limited power to push things ahead. 

It's taking time to get information or documents from outside organisations
Finally, conveyancing with no chain can take longer if you can’t obtain third-party documentation. For example, local authority searches can cause delays if councils lack staff to complete them. 

Gathering documentation relating to the property itself can also take time. For instance, it might be hard to get hold of planning permission documents or building certificates.


Generally, expect to wait between 12 and 16 weeks for the conveyancing process to complete. Sometimes, you might be lucky and wait less if the transaction is simple (such as no onward chain). 

To keep the process as speedy as possible, get a mortgage in principle agreement from your lender and provide your conveyancer with information as soon as they request it. If selling an existing property, check for problems with the Land Registry documents to ensure there are no issues on your side of the equation. 

If this all sounds complicated, the TBI conveyancing department can help. We can provide an instant conveyancing quote, track your case, and provide professional legal advice during the transaction process. 

Call today to get in touch.