Dear Barry

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I'm happy to present the third in the Belfast Property Blog's 2019 special series on the conveyancing process.

Conveyancing is the legal side of a property transaction; in other words, this is the bit your solicitor does. It is the process by which the legal ownership of a property is transferred from one party to another.

If you're new to the blog or indeed to this series, I recommend reading the intro article to the series, followed by the key communication steps in a property sale and a guide to how much it costs (the first big question from everyone's lips when they are buying or selling a property).

This month, we move on to answer the second of the two big conveyancing queries:

How long does it take?

For the purposes of this article, I'll break down the key steps involved in conveyancing for someone who is selling a property. The series continues next month with an in-depth look at each stage of the conveyancing process, at which stage I will break down each stage and talk about things from the vendor and the purchaser's point of view.

The key conveyancing steps in a property sale:

  1. Obtaining title deeds
  2. Checking title, preparing contract
  3. Receiving offer to purchase
  4. Requesting deposit
  5. Dealing with enquiries before contract 
  6. Searches and property certificates
  7. Receiving purchase monies, arranging completion
  8. Discharging existing mortgages / charges against property
  9. Registering vacate of mortgage if appropriate

Obviously a lot depends on the purchaser and whether they are also involved in a property sale, but you can expect this process to take a minimum of two to three weeks - that's mainly because of the amount of time it takes to obtain title deeds.

If there are issues with the property (say, you need to apply for retrospective planning permission, or some work needs done before a safety certificate can be issued) then that can add anything from a few days to a couple of weeks.

This illustrates why it's important to do three things when preparing to sell a property:

  • Instruct your solicitor at the beginning - they can be sourcing those title deeds in the background while your estate agent markets the property. Why wait until you have an offer before you kick off that 2-week wait?
  • Never go cheap on your legal team - seek personal recommendations and ask why they're recommending ABC & Associates. If it's because they were so cheap, run a mile! 
  • Find a solicitor who communicates well - a good solicitor will explain the process step by step. They also won't leave you waiting in limbo wondering what's happening with the sale - like a good estate agent, they will update you regularly, even if it's just to tell you they are still waiting for paperwork themselves.


Any questions? Feedback? Ideas for an article you'd love to read? Join the conversation on social or drop me an email - all the links and details are in the top right corner of this page.

See you next week!