Below are some common questions we regularly get asked. If you can’t find an answer below, do not hesitate contact us.

How Long Will It Take?

A conveyancing transaction normally takes approximately 12 weeks, however, every conveyancing transaction is different.

The length of time depends on many factors including: the chain involved, how quickly searches and mortgage offers are received and the respective situations of the seller and buyer.

We will work to meet your timescales, expectations and the completion date you want.

What Are Searches?

Searches are carried out against a property to provide useful information to a buyer and their mortgage lender.

There are 3 standard searches which are normally carried out and which are required by a mortgage lender – a local authority search, a water and drainage search and an environmental search.

There are also additional searches which can be done depending on your mortgage lender’s requirements and the location of the property. We will advise you on the searches and confirm which searches you require.

We will provide you with copies of all searches and advise you on the contents of the search results.

What Searches Do I Need?

If you are having a mortgage, a local authority search, a water and drainage search and an environmental search must be carried out. Additional searches can be carried out if required by you or your mortgage lender.

If you are not having a mortgage, searches are not mandatory but we strongly advise that searches are carried out.


This deals with all matters within the control of the local Council. The search will reveal any public charges affecting the property (for example, any compulsory purchase orders). It will also reveal any planning permissions or building regulations approvals relating to the property and the status of the road adjoining the property (i.e. whether the road is private or adopted by the Council).

The search will not, however, reveal any applications for planning permission or any matters affecting nearby or adjoining properties.


This search confirms whether the property connects to mains drains and mains water as well as the position of nearby drains and sewers.


This is a search of the land on which the property is built and the surrounding area. The search will reveal whether environmental issues will affect the value of the property and whether the property would be classed as ‘contaminated land’.


This search will reveal if the property is in an area where there is a risk of flooding from one or more of various sources (not just rivers). It will also provide details regarding past insurance claims and the insurability of the property.


This search reveals whether the property is situated within an area which has chancel repair liability. Chancel repair liability is an obligation to contribute towards the cost of maintenance of the local church.


This search would only usually be carried out if the property is situated on or close to a village green / common. The search shows if land has been designated as common land i.e. there are public rights to use it.


This search will show whether or not there have been any past workings or if there are any proposed workings. It will also show whether there has been a recorded mining-related subsidence claim.


This search is useful if you are moving to an unfamiliar area. It will show nearby planning applications, local school results, crime statistics and other general information about the area and its facilities.


This search will reveal the development risk or development potential of the property and the surrounding area. If you are concerned about nearby development or you would like to develop the property yourself, you may wish to consider this search.

Should I Have A Survey Done?

BHW Conveyancing always recommend that a survey is carried out against a property by any prospective buyer.

A survey will provide information about the structure and condition of the property and may contain recommendations for works or repairs which may be required.

A surveyor will look at things at the property which may not be evident to a buyer. If you would like details of a recommended surveyor, please let us know.

What Does ‘Exchange’ Mean?

Exchange is when contracts are exchanged i.e. swapped between the seller’s and buyer’s solicitors.

Each solicitor will hold their client’s signed contract and will exchange details over the telephone. At the point of exchange, the transaction becomes legally binding and no party can withdraw without facing penalties.

On exchange, a completion date becomes fixed and you can start making arrangements e.g. book removals, notify utility companies etc.

What Does ‘Completion’ Mean?

Completion is when the ownership of the property changes and the keys are handed over.

This is the point when the buyer legally becomes the new owner of the property and can move in.

For more information, see our post ‘What happens on completion day?

When Do I Need To Pay The Estate Agents’ And Solicitors’ Fees?

On a purchase, we will request the costs of the searches required for the property in advance, but all other costs and fees are payable on completion.

We will arrange for payment of your estate agents’ fees and our fees from the sale proceeds.

What Happens About The Keys?

Unless something has been agreed between a seller and a buyer, keys are dealt with through the estate agents.

Once a seller has vacated the property, they will provide the keys to the estate agents and the buyer will collect the keys from the estate agents on the day of completion.

When Can Completion Happen?

Mostly, completion takes place on a Friday as people tend to like to have a weekend to get organised. However completion can happen on any working day when solicitors and banks are open. A completion date would have to be agreed by a seller and a buyer and (if applicable) all parties in a chain.

When Do I Need To Sort Out Buildings Insurance?

Normally, a buyer needs to have buildings insurance in place from exchange, however, this is different for New Build and leasehold properties.

You should always check your mortgage lender’s requirements in relation to buildings insurance.

The content of our site is provided for general information purposes only and does not constitute legal or other professional advice.