Selling & Buying a House

Understanding the legal conveyancing process involved in buying a house will help you to feel more comfortable and help ensure there are fewer surprises when moving house ...

Understanding the legal conveyancing process involved in buying a house will help you to feel more comfortable and help ensure there are fewer surprises when moving house ...

One of the most common struggles with moving home is getting exchange and completion dates agreed with the other parties. Just as you are both buying and selling a home, your buyer and your seller may too be both buying and selling a home and so on. This means that trying to get dates agreed between 4, 5, 6 or more parties can be difficult and that unexpected delays can be likely. It is important to maintain communication with both your agents and your solicitor throughout this process and to advise of any holiday dates or bad moving dates as early as you can.

A typical sale and purchase transaction will proceed through each of these 10 stages…

1. Offer accepted!

Your offer has been accepted on the property that you want to buy and you have accepted an offer on your current home (these rarely occur on the same day). This is the point at which you have agreed, subject to contract, to buy and sell. If you are taking a mortgage, and you have not already done so you will need to ask your lender to issue a Mortgage in Principle as soon as possible.

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 in relation to your purchase.  For further information on our pricing please visit our dedicated page.

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 the new property too this would be a good time to instruct a surveyor.

For more information on buying and selling 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

Your solicitor will send to you some standard conveyancing forms for completion. This will include a Property Information Form and a Fixtures & Fittings Form. Once you have completed those your solicitor will send the completed forms, along with a draft contract and copies of the title register for the property held at the Land Registry, to your purchaser’s solicitor.

Similarly, your seller’s solicitor will provide your solicitor with a draft contract plus all of the same information relating to the property. These will be reviewed by your solicitor.

4. Searches & Enquiries

Your solicitor will use the information provided by your 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.

On your sale, of course, your buyer’s solicitor will have submitted searches and will be raising enquiries of you. When replying to enquiries you should try to be clear and thorough with your answers. If you need to disclose something that you think may be an issue for your buyer speak to your solicitor about this early – often issues can be sorted out quite easily if there is the time to do so.

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.

Similarly, on your sale your solicitor will answer any final enquiries of your purchaser and finalise the contract.

6. Report on Title

At this stage, on your purchase 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 and sale you will be asked to sign the contracts, transfer deeds, mortgage deed and any other documentation in relation to your purchase and your sale. You will be asked to send any shortfall in the deposit to your solicitor but will not be committed to the purchase at this stage. If the deposit you are receiving on your sale will cover the deposit on your purchase then you will not need to send any money ahead of exchange.

8. Exchange of Contracts

Once all solicitors have signed documents in their possession they will formalise an exchange of contracts. Your solicitor will receive the deposit from your buyers and then send the deposit to the seller’s solicitor. At the same time, a completion date will be finalised. Remember to put your contents and buildings insurance on risk for your new property as at this date.

If you have an existing mortgage on the property that you are selling your solicitor will request a statement showing how much will be due as at the completion date.

9. Completion

On the completion date your solicitor will receive the sale monies from your buyer together with any new borrowings from your mortgage lender, if relevant, and then pay off the old mortgage and send the purchase price, less the deposit, to your seller. As soon as your solicitor receives the money from your sale keys will be released to your buyer and the property has been sold. Once the seller’s solicitor confirms receipt of the purchase money from your solicitors the keys are released to you and completion of your purchase is confirmed. At this stage, the new property is yours.

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 in relation to your purchase. 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.