Conveyancing Guide

The aim of these notes is to help you understand the various terms you will hear during the course of your transaction and to explain the procedures involved. We believe that a few minutes spent reading through these notes now will give you an overview of the conveyancing process and will help you to make strategic decisions to plan your move and keep the process as stress free as possible.

Please note that we will make certain assumptions on your behalf as part of the house buying process. These assumptions are explained in these notes and are highlighted in bold italic type.

When you first agree to buy or sell property there is no legally binding commitment to go ahead with the deal. After exchange of contracts there are potentially severe financial penalties if you withdraw from the deal.

Before we can advise a buyer to exchange contracts various key stages need to be completed. These are:

  • Approval of the draft contract – to ensure that it correctly reflects the agreement made between the seller and buyer
  • Approval of the title
  • Searches need to be carried out and the results checked
  • Property forms and title issues need to be checked
  • Consideration ought to be given to carrying out a survey
  • Finance needs to be organised and in place
  • The chain needs to be checked to ensure that everyone is ready to proceed
  • The deposit needs to be collected from the buyer

Generally, it takes around 6 weeks to get to exchange of contracts on a freehold purchase from the point we receive the draft contract from the Seller’s Solicitors, but it is very difficult to predict the timescale precisely – factors such as the length of any chain, delays in receiving mortgage offers and searches can all influence the time needed to arrive at the point of exchange of contracts. This is why we recommend that a moving date should not be agreed at the outset of the transaction as it is impossible to know what might happen as the matter progresses. In our experience, agreeing a date too soon can place unnecessary stress on the buyer and seller as they frantically try to hit what might have been an unrealistic target date from the outset.  If you are in rented accommodation, we would strongly advise against giving your notice until exchange of contracts.

The key stages referred to above are set out in more detail below. Most of these stages apply to buyers, but it is useful for sellers to know what the buyer has to do before the buyer is ready to go ahead. Depending on the circumstances of the case, some of the stages described below may not apply.