You then have to instruct a solicitor to do the legal work on your behalf. Legally, nothing can stop the other party withdrawing from the agreement before "Exchange of Contracts"
(this is known as Gazumping when the seller withdraws because he has accepted a higher offer from someone else), so most people want to exchange contracts as quickly as possible.
When you instruct a solicitor to buy or sell a house on your behalf the transaction proceeds in various stages that differ according to whether you are buying or selling.
Guide - simple steps to conveyancing:
This is where you tell the solicitor what he needs to know to act on your behalf. A local law firm may be useful so that
you can call in and hand deliver documentation. However, most solicitors
do this by post and online options for Conveyancing exist. Convex does all of this electronically. Check and compare prices and ask for recommendations before making a choice of
The seller's solicitor, having taken his client's instructions, prepares a draft contract and sends this with all of the other papers relating to the property (contents, fixtures & fittings, etc) to
the buyer's solicitor.
The buyer's solicitor submits searches to the local authority asking about planning permissions and applications, road usage, electricity and water supply etc, to the Land Registry asking about
the seller's title and to such other agencies as may be required (coal board, water authority, environmental etc)
When the results to all of these searches are returned then the buyer's solicitor will advise the buyer accordingly.
The buyer's solicitor will make appropriate amendments to the draft contract submitted by the seller with the pre-contract papers, bearing in mind the searches.
This is when a legally binding contract is made. This is the point at which you cannot be "Gazumped" any more! It is also when you fix the day the sale will take place - when you will
get the keys, if you are a buyer, or have to move out, if you are a seller.
A very important date!
The buyer's solicitor prepares the deed that will legally transfer the property from the seller to the buyer, and he will then send it to the seller's solicitor for approval.
The seller's solicitor confirms that the purchase deed is acceptable.
This is the stage at which title is formally acknowledged as being acceptable under the terms of the contract, after any further questions that the buyer has about it have been answered. It is
also the point at which the buyer's solicitor will have to give a report to the buyer's lender (bank, building society) as to whether the title gives sufficient security for the loan that is being extended.
The big day! The buyer's solicitor sends the money to the seller's solicitor, who confirms receipt and releases the
keys to the buyer. The buyer can walk in and relax (before starting re-decorating etc), and the sellers solicitor confirms the money is in the bank!
The seller's solicitor discharges the seller's mortgage, sends the discharge to the buyer's solicitors and the balance of the monies to the seller. The buyer's solicitor pays tax on the transfer
("Stamp Duty"), sends the discharge to the Land Registry to remove the entry relating to the sellers mortgage, and then registers the buyer as the new owner of the property, together with the buyer's mortgage.