- Obtain a Quote
- Instruct a Solicitor
- Plan a completion date
- Post Completion
- Sale agreement
Process when you’re a buyer
When buying a property in England and Wales there is a standard legal process and you will usually use a Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer as your legal representative.
Obtain a Quote
Obtain several quotes based on the price of the property you wish to purchase to ensure you have the most competitive and economical charges.
Instruct a Solicitor
Once you are happy with your quote choose your solicitor or licensed conveyancer as soon as you’re ready to make an offer.
After the purchase price is agreed, details of both the buyers and sellers’ solicitors are exchanged this is usually actioned through the estate agent. The vendor’s solicitor will send your solicitor a contract pack (which is a formal agreement to sell), accompanied by documents below:
- The Property Information Form
- The Fittings and Contents Form
These contain important information regarding the property (e.g. issues with boundaries etc) and what will be included in the sale (e.g. all of the carpets or curtains?). The pack will also include the property title and additional forms completed by the vendor. Also a copy of the lease will be included if the property is leasehold.
Although your solicitor will deal with the paperwork on your behalf, it’s important you go check these forms carefully and raise any issues or queries you may have at this point.
During these initial stages, your offer to purchase the property will have been accepted and your mortgage application approved – the solicitor will obtain a copy of the mortgage offer.
It is advisable at this stage for you to arrange for a property survey (separate to the lender’s valuation report).
Until stage 5 is completed, either you or the seller could have a change of heart and pull out of the sale without any legal consequences.
Your solicitor will carry out all required searches, including a Local Authority Search. These provide essential information about the property, such as:
- The property boundary
- Rights of way
- Planning constraints or permissions
Depending on the type of property and its location, other searches may be required tour solicitor will notify accordingly.
Plan a completion date
The contract pack, mortgage offer and local authority searches will be evaluated by your solicitor.
If there are any issues , your solicitor will draw these to your attention. For example:
- If the property you are purchasing is located on contaminated land
- The council are planning major road works near your new home
- If anyone else has right of way over your land.
Discuss with your solicitor a potential completion date and negotiate an agreed date with the vendor’s solicitor.
Your solicitor will liaise with the vendor’s solicitor and inform them that you wish to progress to contract exchange and a deposit will be sent.
Your solicitor will pull together the final completion statement, transfer deed and mortgage deed for you to agree and sign. This will also outline what money you have to provide them for completion.
The final Land Registry searches will be organised by your solicitor. This is a final check to ensure no changes have been made to the Land Register since your initial searches.
The vendor’s solicitor will be sent the signed transfer deed, contracts will be exchanged and the deposit sent to the seller’s solicitor.
Upon exchange you are legally committed to proceed with buying the property.
The completion day is when the sale is finalised and the property is transferred to you, as the new legal owner. Your solicitor will pay over the balance of the sale price (less the deposit already paid) and receive the signed Transfer Deed.
Your solicitor will ask for your finances from the mortgage lender. Title deeds, transfer deeds and proof of outstanding mortgages will be obtained by your solicitor.
The solicitor will send your deeds to the lender if you have a mortgage, arrange for any Stamp Duty (if applicable) to be received by Revenue and Customs, and send your documents to HM Land Registry to register you as the owner of the property – al this must be done within 30 days of completion of the purchase.
HM Land Registry will send the title deeds to your solicitor and these will then be passed onto your mortgage lender, if you have used one. If you are a cash buyer the title deeds will be passed on to you.
Process when you’re a seller
When you have instructed a solicitor for your sale, they will request your title deeds and you will be asked to complete various forms.
You will need to complete:
- Property Information Form
- Fixtures and Fittings Form
- Leasehold Information Form (if the property is leasehold)
Ensure you discuss a completion date with your solicitor to be negotiated with the buyer’s solicitor.
Your mortgage lender will provide your solicitor with a statement of the total sum for repayment upon completion of your sale.
As soon as the contracts are exchanged, your solicitor will receive the buyer’s deposit – this is usually 10% of the property price.
At this point the buyer is liable to lose their deposit if they back out and you will be in a legally binding contract to sell the property – you can no longer accept another offer.
Your solicitor will require payment for their services before completion on your property and all final accounts will be prepared by your solicitor. A final settlement will be drafted for your approval.
Your solicitor will ensure that all deeds and remaining monies have arrived and that your sale is complete, they will then transfer the deeds to the buyer’s solicitor. Your solicitor will then pay the estate agent (if one was used), repay the amount owing to the existing mortgage lender (if applicable) and take payment for their conveyancing service costs.
Once all the payments have been made, the remaining money from the house sale will be transferred to you, usually by bank transfer on the day of completion.
On completion, you must vacate the property at the agreed time and release the keys to the estate agent or the buyer of your property.
It is important to note that in England and Wales, until contracts are exchanged, neither party is legally bound and either party can withdraw at any time. Only when contracts have been exchanged must the buyer and seller complete. If the buyer fails to complete on the agreed date, the seller can serve a notice and if the buyers still does not complete, they will forfeit any deposit.