Buying A House

Are you a first time buyer and confused as to the process of buying a house?

Are you a first time buyer and confused as to the process of buying a house?

As a first time buyer we know that the process of buying a house can seem incredibly daunting. Understanding what the legal conveyancing process involves will help you to feel more comfortable and also help to ensure there are fewer surprises between the time your offer is accepted and the time you collect your keys.

A typical purchase transaction will proceed through each of the following 10 stages:

1. Offer accepted!

Your offer has been accepted on the property that you want to buy. This is the point at which you and the seller have agreed, subject to contract, to buy and sell respectively. If you are buying with the help of a mortgage, and if you have not already done so, you will need to ask your lender to issue a Mortgage in Principle as soon as possible. See our Getting a Mortgage page for more information.

2. Instruct a Solicitor & Arrange a Survey

You will need to ask a solicitor or a conveyancer to act on your behalf. You will be able to obtain a fixed fee quote together with a good idea of related costs and disbursements from your solicitor. Searches and Enquiries, in particular, can be an unexpected expense.  Our pricing information can be found here.

If you are taking a mortgage you will need to double check with your solicitor that they can also act on behalf of your lender. Otherwise, you may have to appoint a second solicitor on behalf of your lender (and pay the costs of this).

If you want to arrange for a survey of your property too this would be a good time to instruct a surveyor.

For more information on the process of buying a house...

Please do not hesitate to contact a member of the team at Everyman Legal on 01993 893620 for a free discussion or email

3. Draft Contract Pack

Once solicitors have been instructed and the agent has issued a Sales Memorandum to each side, the seller’s solicitor will provide your solicitor with a draft contract plus information relating to the property. This will include copies of the title register for the property held at the Land Registry and standard conveyancing forms completed by the seller. These will be reviewed by your solicitor.

4. Searches & Enquiries

Your solicitor will use the information provided by the seller’s solicitor to submit searches and raise initial enquiries of your seller; these are a key part of the conveyancing process as it is during this stage that your solicitor will learn lots of information about the property. Properties are always purchased on the legal principle of ‘buyer beware’ which means that it is your solicitor’s responsibility to ask the right questions of the seller. Otherwise you may not have any recourse against a seller if an issue is discovered after completion. In addition, if you are taking a mortgage in order to help fund your purchase searches & enquiries will undoubtedly be a requirement of your lender. We would never advise a buyer to skip this vital part of the purchase process.

5. Final Enquiries

Once replies to initial enquiries and search results have been received from the seller your solicitor will review that information and then raise any final enquiries with your seller. The contract will then be finalised and your solicitor will draw up a transfer deed.

6. Report on Title

At this stage, your solicitor should send to you a full report on title summarising all of the information received about the property, whether in the initial draft contract package, or from searches & enquiries. It is important that you read this report thoroughly and then raise any questions or queries with your solicitor before proceeding to exchange contracts. Once you have exchanged contracts you are committed to the purchase.

At the same time your solicitor will provide a certificate of good title to your lender. This will let your lender know that you will be receiving a good and marketable title to the property, and will be the confirmation that the lender needs to finalise your mortgage.

7. Signing the Documentation

Assuming that you are now happy to proceed with your purchase you will be asked to sign the contract, transfer deed, mortgage deed and any other documentation in relation to your purchase. You will be asked to send the deposit to your solicitor but will not be committed to the purchase at this stage.

8. Exchange of Contracts

Once both solicitors have signed documents in their possession they will formalise an exchange of contracts. Your solicitor will send the deposit to the seller’s solicitor and a completion date will be finalised. Remember to put your contents and buildings insurance on risk as at this date.

9. Completion

On the completion date your solicitor will receive funds directly from your mortgage lender and then send the purchase price, less the deposit, to your seller. Once the seller’s solicitor confirms receipt of the money the keys are released to you and completion is confirmed. At this stage, the property is now yours and you can move in, decorate and unpack!

10. Post-completion matters

Following completion your solicitor will have a number of other matters to take care of on your behalf. This will include filing a Stamp Duty Land Tax return on your behalf and paying your SDLT liability to HMRC. Your solicitor will also need to register your purchase, together with the mortgage, at the Land Registry.

The first striking thing about Everyman Legal was that the team are very affable and very human - not boring lawyers! They were warm & sincere and I felt confident from the start that they were technically excellent.