FAQs: The difference between a solicitor and conveyancer?

Moving home? then you'll need a conveyancer, or is it a solicitor? 

In truth both can act on your behalf, both conveyancers and solicitors are fully regulated, insured professionals and operate in a similar way. However, it is worth noting the differences so that you can choose the right representative for you.

conveyancing in Bristol
What’s the difference between a solicitor and a conveyancer?

A solicitor is a legal professional practicing in many aspects of the law. They may be qualified to provide a number of legal services in a variety of legal fields. Solicitors are required to practice as members of The Law Society in the UK.

A conveyancer is a specialist in the legal aspects of property sales and purchases, focusing largely on residential property transactions. They are equally qualified in this aspect of law and arguably much more experienced, especially when dealing with local markets and property types. A conveyancer is a specialist property lawyer, they are regulated by the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

Do they charge the same for conveyancing services?

Typically, a conveyancer is less expensive than a solicitor. Some larger law firms hire conveyancers to offer property services to their clients or subcontract to specialist conveyancers.

The cost of their services should be clearly advertised. Be sure to read all quotes carefully, is it a total cost for the whole transaction including all disbursements? or will there be any charges for extra services?

click here for our transparent all-inclusive quote

Should I choose a solicitor or a conveyancer?

It's a personal choice, although it is widely agreed that the majority of people in the UK are happy to instruct conveyancers to handle their property sales and purchases. If you choose a solicitor, it’s worth checking that they are experienced in property as it may not be their specialist area. But read on, as we are definitely biased - see Ocean Conveyancing

Buying and selling property is one of life's biggest decisions, and the whole process of moving home can be stressful. It is crucial that you are comfortable with your legal representation and confident that they are acting in your best interests. Therefore, the decision may simply come down to choosing a legal service provider that you have been recommended by a trusted source, have developed a rapport with, and is accessible to you.

But don't be afraid to check a few things further.


How many property transactions do they or their firm complete in a year? What's their local knowledge like for the area you want to sell or buy in?

conveyancer specialists
Does the size of the company matter?

Smaller legal firms may offer a more bespoke, traditional service. They may be more available to meet face-to-face to answer your queries and go through the paperwork. So this is something you should confirm if it's important to you. It should be noted smaller firms may not be on all mortgage lender panels, which might be a problem if you are getting one. Their online accessibility and investment in technology may be limited which could potentially slow proceedings not just for you personally but for the whole chain. 

Larger law firms are more likely to have made more significant investments in their technology and increasingly importantly, cybersecurity. They may use online communication tools and portals so you know where your transaction is 24/7. The systems and processes they provide are often in-line with the level of service and protection lenders and customers expect and require. However; you should confirm what level of personal service and one-to-one interaction larger companies are able to provide. A good conveyancer recognizes the need for offering personal advice and reassurance. As mentioned, we all recognize the process can be stressful, and good conveyancers actively plan to alleviate this when possible. 

Let's take this opportunity to look at what your conveyancer (or solicitor) will do for you during your property transaction. 

property phone call
What exactly is their role?

Your legal representative will explain the legal processes of selling and buying a property. Depending on whether they represent you for a sale or purchase it will vary a little, but essentially they deal with all of the necessary legalities. It will be their responsibility to advise you on all contract details, deeds, and searches, and agree on your behalf on the final moving conditions and dates.

  • Confirm your instructions, setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs. Identifying additional disbursements to 3rd parties such as local government

  • Complete proof of identity checks

  • Sends fittings and contents form and property information form(s) for your completion. If the property is leasehold, additional information regarding the lease and management company will be required

  • Obtain title deeds from the deeds holder or official copies of the title register and any other documents required by The Land Registry and details of the amount outstanding on any existing mortgage

  • Prepares the draft contract and supporting contract documentation and sends it to your buyer’s Conveyancer

  • Answer pre-contract enquiries from the buyer's conveyancer

  • Liaise with all parties to agree on a completion date and contracts are formally ‘exchanged’

  • Obtain a settlement figure to repay the outstanding amount on any existing mortgage, if applicable

  • Check the transfer deed for your signature in readiness for completion

  • Arrange for the keys to be released to the buyer. Transfer the deed to the buyer’s Conveyancer together with an undertaking to use the proceeds of the sale to discharge any existing mortgage.

  • Pay the estate agent, repays the amount owing to the existing mortgage lender (if applicable) and take payment for their Conveyancing service costs

  • Transfer all remaining monies (usually by bank transfer) on completion

  • Confirm your instructions, setting out the terms of business and fixed fee costs.

  • Complete proof of identity checks

  • Contacts the seller’s Conveyancer to obtain the contract pack

  • Reviews the contract pack, raises pre-contract enquiries

  • Carries out the necessary searches

  • Obtains a copy of the mortgage offer

  • Conveyancer reviews and reports to the buyer on the contents of the contract pack, pre-contract enquiries, the result of the searches, and mortgage offer

  • Liaise with all parties to agree on a completion date and contracts are formally ‘exchanged’

  • Prepares a draft transfer deed and completion information form and sends these to the seller’s Conveyancer for completion

  • Prepares a completion statement, carries out pre-completion searches, and applies to your mortgage lender for the mortgage loan

  • Sends the proceeds of sale to the seller’s Conveyancer. On completion

  • Sends the stamp duty payable to HMRC,

  • Receives the title deeds, transfer deed, and proof that the seller has paid the outstanding mortgage on the property

  • Registers the property in the name of the buyer at The Land Registry

  • Provides a copy of the registered title from The Land Registry. Any documents required by the mortgage lender to be retained by them  

Share this article

Visit us in branch

Drop into any of our branches to see how we can help

Recent articles

Choose a location




Search properties