Residential Property –
What is Involved? -Purchase
What does a purchase involve?

There are three main stages to the legal process of purchasing a property:

  • Pre-contract stage – what we do before you agree to buy
  • Post-contract stage – what we do to transfer the property to you
  • Post-completion stage – finishing off after you have moved in


We will always make sure that you know what is happening and when things need to be done by you.


Pre-contract Stage
  • Take your instructions. We will need to know about you and the property you are buying. We will also need to know how you are paying for it (e.g. cash or a mortgage) and if you have a house to sell. We are also obliged by law to ask for evidence of your identity so that we can comply with the strict money laundering duties the law places upon us.

  • We will receive the contract and copies of the documents and papers for your purchase from the solicitor/conveyancer acting for the seller.

  • We will send questions to those bodies who might hold information relating to your property. These are called searches and cover matters including utilities, planning, potential problems such as mining, flooding or subsidence and we will check to make sure the seller is not bankrupt. The nature of the searches will depend upon where the property is and what affects it. These searches need to be paid for so we will ask you for an upfront payment which will depend upon the searches needed.

  • Having checked the documents and searches we will raise pre-contract enquiries with the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer so that any problems can be sorted before you agree to buy the property.

  • If you are getting a mortgage, we will check it is right for you and usually we will represent the lender to make sure the property you are buying provides sufficient security for the loan they are making.

  • When everyone is happy that the legal issues are resolved and you are ready to go ahead, you will sign the contract and we can “exchange contracts” (enter into a binding agreement for you to purchase the property). The timing will usually depend upon any sale you have or on the person you are buying from being able to exchange on their purchase.  This is one of the things that can hold up the transaction.

  • At the same time as we exchange contracts, we will usually agree the completion date – in other words the date when the property will be yours.

  • Usually, you will need to pay a deposit of 10% of the purchase price when you exchange contracts. Sometimes a lesser sum can be agreed. The deposit shows you intend to proceed with the purchase, and you may lose it if you pull out of the transaction after exchange of contracts.


Post-contract Stage
  • After exchange we will begin the work leading to the completion date.

  • We will draft the transfer document, and have it approved by the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer, sort out any mortgage documents, carry out final searches and make sure everyone else is ready to go ahead.

  • We will then get you to sign the transfer ready for completion, work out the finances and ask you for any additional money we need to complete the purchase.  It will include any other payments we still need to make such as the land registration fee and any stamp duty land tax.

  • On completion day we will transfer the balance of purchase money to the seller’s solicitor/conveyancer and they will give us the deeds and/or documents to the property.  We or the estate agents will make sure you get the keys to the property and can move in.  Note that until the money is received by the seller you will not be able to move into the property – even if you have had to move out of your old property.


Post-completion Stage
  • After completion we will deal with the final paperwork, pay the stamp duty land tax (if applicable) and arrange for your title to the property to be registered at the Land Registry.

After registration if there is no mortgage we will send the documents to you or if you wish keep them in our strong room for safe keeping.