Posted 05 Apr 2024

Conveyancer Vs Solicitor / Lawyer: How To Choose The Right One When Buying A House

buy / house / property searches

What's the difference between conveyancers and solicitors? And who should you use when buying a house?

Out of everything you’ll think about when buying a property, you might think a ‘conveyancer vs solicitor’ debate should be low down your list of priorities. I’m here to tell you why it’s worth thinking about – and not at the last minute either!

Now while you know what a solicitor (or lawyer) is, you may not know what conveyancing is. If so, don’t worry, you’re not alone – HomeOwners Alliance reports that only 40% of UK adults know what conveyancing is!

If you’re currently going through the property buying process, my advice would be – don’t make your choice of conveyancer or solicitor an afterthought.

Don’t leave it too late to get quotes and appoint one, because there aren’t as many as there used to be.

According to analysis from Today’s Conveyancer, citing the IRN Legal UK Residential Conveyancing Market Report 2023. More than 450 law firms discontinued residential conveyancing between 2021 and 2023, plus there was a 13% decrease in the number of conveyancers during that time.

Therefore, it’s worth knowing not only the difference between a conveyancer and solicitor, but also, how to choose the right professional for your property purchase.

When do you need a solicitor or conveyancer ?

If you’re a first time buyer, you may be wondering at what stage in the process you typically use a solicitor or conveyancer.

At this point in your journey to owning your own property, usually you’ve completed these steps already:

  • Secured a mortgage agreement in principle (AIP)
  • Found your dream property and made an offer
  • Had your offer accepted
  • Applied for your mortgage formally

Your mortgage provider will send out a surveyor to check that the property valuation is fair, minimising their risk.

Around this time, you’ll also want to commission your own surveyor. Choose someone from either the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) or the Residential Property Surveyors Association (RPSA).

For more details on the entire process, check out my first time buyer checklist.

Why do you need a conveyancer or solicitor?

A conveyancer or solicitor acts as your legal support during the property buying process. Here’s what they do to ensure a smooth, secure transaction:

  • Conveyancing checks: These verify the property’s ownership history through official land registry records, ensuring there are no hidden claims on the property and the seller has the legal right to sell. They also include searches with local authorities to uncover planned developments nearby or potential flooding risks – more on these later.
  • Contract scrutiny: They should (as long as you choose a good one) meticulously examine the purchase contract, highlighting any potential issues or clauses that might disadvantage you. They can also negotiate terms on your behalf, such as the completion date.
  • Mortgage liaison: If you’re buying with a mortgage, they’ll communicate with the lender to transfer the funds upon completion.
  • Taxes and fees: They calculate and handle any stamp duty or other land transfer taxes you’re liable for. They’ll also ensure all fees associated with the purchase are paid correctly.
  • Completion day: They coordinate the exchange of contracts and ensure the property’s ownership is officially transferred to you on completion day.

That’s why you need one. But should you focus your attention on appointing a conveyancer or a solicitor – which is the right role for your needs?

What is a conveyancer?

Conveyancing is the legal process of transferring property from one owner to another. So, is a conveyancer a solicitor?

No. A conveyancer is a legal professional who specialises specifically in property law, particularly property transfers.

They don’t have the same broad legal qualifications as a solicitor. Conveyancers are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC), which sets and maintains standards for education, training and professional conduct.

If that’s the case, then what’s the difference in appointing a solicitor – in this scenario, a conveyancing solicitor, also known as a conveyancing lawyer?

What is a conveyancing solicitor?

Conveyancing solicitors are lawyers who specifically deal with the legal aspects of buying and selling property.

In other words, they are your solicitor for buying a house, or a solicitor for conveyancing. They act as your expert throughout the process, ensuring a smooth and secure transaction.

They combine a solicitor’s legal expertise with a conveyancer’s specialisation in property transfers, offering a comprehensive service for your property purchase.

Look for a property solicitor who is part of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme. This is a quality assurance scheme introduced by the Law Society in 2010.

Its core aims are to improve the quality and consistency of services provided by residential conveyancing practices, and to help combat fraud and money laundering. Also check that your solicitor is registered with the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA).

Which one do I need – a conveyancer or solicitor?

Both property solicitors and conveyancers are well trained in conveyancing, so both will be more than capable to help you through your purchase. But here are a few differences:

  • More straightforward purchases: Conveyancers typically handle the relatively simpler property purchases. They are experts in the conveyancing process and can efficiently navigate the standard legal procedures.
  • Difficult purchases: A fully qualified property solicitor may be the best choice if you are dealing with tricky transactions. For example, if there’s a boundary dispute, using a solicitor with knowledge beyond property conveyancing law is beneficial.
  • Fees: Solicitors often charge more than conveyancers due to their wider range of qualifications and legal expertise. In contrast, since they specialise in a specific area, conveyancers can sometimes offer more competitive fees for standard property purchases.

For a straightforward property purchase, a well reviewed and experienced conveyancer is a good choice, theoretically offering efficient services for potentially lower costs.

If the property transaction is complex, involves potential legal issues, or you need broader legal advice, a solicitor might be a better option due to their wider legal expertise.

What are the different conveyancing searches?

The main checks include:

  • Water and drainage search: This is conducted to confirm that the property is connected to the municipal water supply and drainage system.
  • Environmental search: This checks for things like flood risks, soil contamination, landslide risks, gas hazards or nearby landfill sites.
  • Local authority search: As explored earlier – and this also covers other potential issues, looking for any financial charges registered against the property, conservation areas, smoke control areas, tree preservation orders and so on.

Other searches can include:

  • Land registry search: This consists of the property summary, title register and title plan.
  • Commons search: If some of the property is on common land, there may be a few restrictions on developments.
  • Energy and infrastructure search: The conveyancer looks for nearby developments such as wind farms, sewage works or high-speed rail developments.
  • Mining search: This is only necessary if the property is in a former mining area, to check if the ground could be unstable.

How long the conveyancing searches take often relies on the local authority search – that can last several weeks. The environmental searches and water and drainage searches are usually much quicker though, so the process could take anywhere from two to six weeks.

However, answering any outstanding questions from the searches could take as long as 10 weeks, according to HomeOwners Alliance.

For more information, here’s our full guide on property searches and how long they take.

How long is there between the conveyancing searches and exchange of contracts?

The time it takes from submitting enquiries to the exchange of contracts can vary greatly depending on a number of factors.

In an ideal world, your conveyancer or solicitor will start the enquiries the moment you ask them to. That helps make sure that the various reports from the respective authorities arrive at a similar time as your mortgage offer, so the purchase can go ahead swiftly.

However, bear in mind that a solicitor may have more clients or higher-profile cases to work on than a conveyancer.

That’s just one of the reasons why I recommend spending a little time choosing the right conveyancer or solicitor. To learn more about what happens after the conveyancing searches, we’ve previously written about what can hold up the exchange of contracts.

How do I choose the right conveyancer or solicitor?

Choosing the right conveyancer can make a big difference to your property purchase process, without doubt.

To increase your chances of finding a reliable, helpful conveyancer who will help make your property purchase a smooth and successful experience, here are some key factors to consider:

  • Qualifications: Ensure the solicitor or conveyancer is registered with the SRA or CLC, as covered earlier.
  • Experience: Look for someone with a strong track record in property transactions, especially those familiar with your area.
  • Compare quotes: Get quotes from at least three different professionals and compare the total cost of their services.
  • Breakdown of fees: Make sure the quotes include all charges, including VAT, searches, bank transfers, and Land Registry fees.
  • Pricing structure: Choose a fixed-fee conveyancing service to avoid unexpected costs.
  • Location: Use a local conveyancer or solicitor where possible– this can be beneficial for their knowledge of the area, or in case you need to visit them in person.
  • Responsiveness: When asking for a quote, you can get a sense for how responsive the conveyancer or solicitor will be by how quickly they reply. Choose one who is easy to reach and responsive to your questions.

Ask people you trust who have recently bought a property for recommendations. Your lender, mortgage broker, or an experienced estate agent might have recommendations for good solicitors or conveyancers.

Final thoughts: Solicitors and conveyancers

There is such a thing as ‘DIY conveyancing’ – but I wouldn’t recommend it.

Buying a property is often one of the most important – and rewarding – decisions of your life, so getting an experienced professional to do the conveyancing checks is worth the cost.

Besides, your mortgage provider will usually want to see that you have appointed a qualified solicitor or conveyancer – they’ll liaise with each other before completion.

I hope you’ve found this article useful and there are plenty of other helpful guides on our blog.

Recent additions include articles on property in need of renovation, houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) – and an explainer on what a tenant in situ is!

If you’re thinking about buying a property, or you’d like to ask about something in our portfolio, we are here for you! Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


Really smooth move in process, Probably the best I’ve experienced so far living in the city! It’s been really nice having Simon/fine living as our estate agent - you can really tell they look after the tenants which can be quite unheard of nowadays.



Can’t thank Simon enough for helping us secure our first flat here in London. He was super helpful during the whole process and was always available for any questions. We are really happy!

Abby Wilson


Simon has been a great guide and support throughout our tenancy. He was always available, helpful and he managed the communication with our landlord perfectly.

Paul Biard


Simon manages a rental flat for us and we very much enjoy working with him. His service is exceptional. He takes care of everything for us and we feel totally reassured that our property is in great hands. Any little issues our tenants might have, such as small repairs etc are dealt with right away in an efficient and professional manner. We recently had a change of tenants and Simon did a fantastic job of marketing the property and finding us excellent new tenants. He is proactive, communication is excellent and he is a lovely guy to work with too! Highly recommend.

Sarah Faulds


Simon is absolutely fantastic to work with. He is authentic, honest and trustworthy. As first time renters in London, Simon explained everything to us and remained accessible throughout the entire process. Definitely the best agent experience we have had.

Jackson Smith


The whole process was a breeze, and everything happened in a blur. I moved from a foreign country and Fine Living was able to get everything done within a week, from answering my first message to handing over the keys. I absolutely recommend!

Merwane Drai


Very professional and offers excellent service. You will be well looked after. Impressed with the technology and quality of virtual viewings. Thank you Simon!

Arta Alfere


We've been working with Simon for a number of years now and he has always been efficient and pragmatic on each letting, doing his best for both the landlord and tenant. He has also overseen works for us and is thorough in his inspections. Overall, he has been an absolute pleasure to work with.



I had a very smooth collaboration with Simon who was reactive, a good adviser and kind. Thank you for the great service!

margot chollet


Simon is fully hands on and on top of everything. Has made my life so easy while being an overseas landlord.

Roxanne Cohen


Simon was very accomodating and helpful throughout the rental application process

Brett Felsenthal


Renting our first London apartment through Simon was an incredible experience! Handling everything from abroad was made effortless by Simon's exceptional assistance. He accommodated our requests promptly, addressing all queries without delay. Our experience was flawless, and we're immensely grateful to Simon. We highly recommend his services to anyone seeking to rent in London, especially from overseas.

Zvika Weksler


Easy, quick and smooth experience overall.

Ana Maa


Simon’s service was top notch. Professional, quick to respond and a great mediator between me and the landlord. Definitely a good experience overall. 🙌

Isauro López


Simon was fantastic as both a lettings and sales agent. Very communicative and flexible in his approach.

Chloe Nankivell


5 stars at least! Moving abroad with a property in London and a busy life I wanted someone to deal with my property. Simon has been amazing as he is personally taking care of everything. He is quick, he explains what I do not know and he is very professional. He takes on the responsibility and take actions. 100% recommended

Erika Felici


Simon has been great throughout all the process. He is extremely professional and reliable, I would definitely recommend him.

Luca Baldini


Simon is one of the best estate agents I have ever worked with. He really cares about looking after his clients and properties and makes the whole process easy and stress free. Would highly recommend

Manal Shaker


This is truly a unicorn of an organization! Simon is approachable, thoughtful, and extremely knowledgeable about his property. He made the entire process completely painless from the viewing through to signing the lease. He’s incredibly communicative and ensured that our rental was finished to the highest standard of cleanliness and repairs. We are now the proud tenants of the most wonderful home and are so grateful that we found Simon. 10/10 service, no notes!

Michaela Zamloot


It's been a great experience renting a flat through Simon, he is always very kind and helpful

Tijana Markovic


We noticed a significant difference when our landlord change from our previous management company to Fine Living. We received information and response to our inquiries very quickly and when needed, we were able to communicate more effectively with the landlord. We felt that Simon cared not only about the landlord but also us, the tenants.

Alejandra Cordero


Excellent service from Fine Living the second time around. Always kept updated & the process was thorough & seamless. Would highly recommend!

Jennifer Nursiah


Excellent service, would highly recommend.

Kirk Pereira


Jack and Simon done an incredible job working around the current restrictions with the pandemic and managed to secure a sale on our property within months. They took on all the strain and pressure of securing a sale within a tight timeframe and made us feel at ease. They took every precaution to ensure we were safe during viewings and ensured everyone followed strict rules to ensure our safety and the safety of others. Both were great at communicating and offered constructive advice throughout that helped secure our sale. Thank you both for everything

Amal Jaber


Simon was a great agent. Understood what we were looking for, excellent communication and a very nice guy to work. Would highly recommend.

Luke Russo


Simon was extremely professional and a pleasure to work with in securing a flat in London. Would certainly recommend to all

Tommy Griffin


I would highly recommend Simon and Fine Living to anyone looking for a professional, attentive and transparent real estate agent to work with. Simon went above and beyond what I expected in order to successfully complete the sale and always did so with a helpful and respectful manner.

Alan Casey


I had a very smooth collaboration with Simon who was reactive, a good adviser and kind. Thank you for the great service!

margot ch


Simon is the most reliable trustworthy letting agent you can find! Paying attention to all details and doing fantastic job!I know him for 5 years, did few flats with him and all went smoothly. Try yourself and see.

Yael Epstein


I recently purchased a flat through Fine Living and I couldn't be happier with the service I received. From the very beginning, the communication was outstanding. They kept me informed every step of the way, promptly answered all my questions, and were always available to address any concerns I had. The entire process was smooth and stress-free. Simon and Steve were professional, efficient, and made buying a flat a positive experience. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to buy or sell a property.



I engaged Simon and Fine Living for the legal work on letting my home, his knowledge of the lettings market and the legal aspects made me feel very comfortable using him. We’ve got a great tenant and Simon is available should I need him for any assistance.

Kirk Smith


An absolute pleasure to interact with Simon. A true professional with a mastery of the London property market. Very knowledgeable on all his properties, with high quality virtual viewings tailored to the current climate. Highly recommended.

Alfie Ashton


I was really impressed by the service I received here, in particular from Jack. He was 'on it' from the start and took his time in understanding what kind of property we were after and our other requirements. He was knowledgeable, professional and gave us an all-round easy experience and personal service. To be honest, I'm still pinching myself that he managed to find us such a great place to rent. Would highly recommend.

India Semper-Hughes


Simon is great to work with, super friendly and responsive. I would highly recommend house hunting with him!

Kelly Lenihan


Seriously knowledgeable, very reassuring and the friendliest chap you could hope to meet. Goes well beyond "just" an estate agent. More like a high end property consultant that can talk about investment decisions, interior design and everything in between. Highly recommended!

Dipta Malik


The service received from Simon was excellent. From ensuring all maintenance jobs were attended to, all legal requirements were adhered to and actually finding the tenant. A very seamless process. Would highly recommend.

Jennifer Nursiah


Simon has been an excellent professional. He was very helpful and trustworthy since the first time I visited the flat. He went out of his way to make sure my needs and the landlord's were met and the lease signed as quickly as possible. In the uncertain environment of the London property market, having Simon's help was invaluable.

Nicola Speranza


I recently had the pleasure of working with Simon, and I must say, he exceeded all expectations. Simon's professionalism was evident from the get-go, and his friendly demeanor made the leasing process an absolute breeze. What truly impressed me was his lightning-fast response time to all of my inquiries. No question was too small, and he always made me feel like a top priority. If you're in need of leasing assistance, look no further than Simon. He's the epitome of excellent customer service and professionalism.

Laura Giersdorf


Positive experience working with Simon & team, from the start with the viewing, they were very responsive and timely in getting all the my questions answered and documents sent during the letting process. Would 100% recommend their services!

Joseph Chung


I've known Simon for quite a while now and his expertise and effort to attend to clients/tenants queries and problems are second to none. Simon is efficient, which comes from his years of experience and therefore things get sorted quickly. In a time where things are so fast paced, it's nice to know there is someone competent in charge dealing with the situation.



Simon is professional, pragmatic and efficient. He gives us great confidence that our properties are being managed well.



Simon is truly a special estate agent. He's knowledgable and cares about the relationship with customers going the extra miles to inform properly and not to rush in his viewing. He makes you feel extremely taken care of and guided alongside the process.

Davide Cavagnino


see all Google reviews

🍪 Cookie consent

We value your privacy! Please take a moment to customise your cookie preferences. By clicking 'Submit,' you agree to the use of cookies as described below:

Collects data on user interactions to improve website performance.
Ad Personalisation
Customises ads based on user interests.
× How can we help you?