Conveyancing for People Buying an Unoccupied Property

The process of legally transferring ownership from buyer to seller is known as 'conveyancing'. This process encompasses all of the various checks and searches, as well as any final tasks following a sale, that you need to be aware of as a buyer.

house for sale sign

Buyer beware

For a buyer, there are five primary stages of conveyancing. The pre-contractual stage, which begins once you have made an offer on a property and you may need to consider home insurance issues. The exchange of contracts, where the agreement to buy/sell becomes legally binding. The time between exchange and completion, where more checks may need to be carried out. The completion stage, where you pay the remaining balance and take possession of the property. Finally, the post completion stage, where any remaining loose ends should be tied together.

Pre-contractual stage

After your offer has been accepted by the seller, the seller will need to have the legal documentation required to transfer ownership drawn up. They will then send a copy of this contract to you, at which point you will have the opportunity to negotiate terms if necessary. If you have instructed a solicitor or licensed conveyancer to act on your behalf, they will be able to advise you about the contract's contents and any areas that may require your attention.


At this stage you will also need to carry out tasks such as researching the property. This is something you and any professionals working on your behalf will need to do before you sign any contracts that lock you into the deal. Because the principle mantra of house purchase is 'buyer beware' the onus of discovering any potential problems is on you as the buyer. The seller is not legally obliged to volunteer any information about potential problems with either property or neighbourhood. They are, however, obliged to reply truthfully to any enquiries.

Solicitors and conveyancers

A solicitor/conveyancer will: check the 'title' (proving sellers ownership and right to sell); ask local authorities about any planned works that might affect the property; enquire to the seller or their representative about the contract. Your representatives may also need to perform checks for any mining activity that may present possible subsidence issues in the future. You may wish to carry out a property survey to protect yourself against any nasty surprises down the line, such as discovering dry rot or potential subsidence problems. You will also need to get a mortgage in place.


You should begin researching insurance options, as the buyer typically becomes responsible for insuring the home as soon as contracts have been exchanged. If the property is unoccupied up until you take possession (and you have reason to believe that this may last for an extended period of time) you might find it difficult to get the necessary insurance. With HomeProtect, you can get a competitive online quote for unoccupied home insurance, no matter how long you expect the building to be left empty for.

Conveyancing For People Selling Their Unoccupied Property

What to know...