What is involved in buying or selling a property? Read our step-by-step guide

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Conveyancing lawyer, Gemma Williams, presents a handy step-by-step guide to buying and selling a property.


  • The buyer and seller will have negotiated a price (usually through an estate agent) and each party will need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor to handle the legal side. The estate agent will circulate details of the property deal to those solicitors.


  • If you are the seller and have not already sorted out an Energy Performance Certificate then you will need to liaise with the estate agent as soon as possible so this can be arranged.


  • Both the buyer and seller will be provided with an initial pack from their solicitor with various forms to complete. The seller will also need to complete a Property Information Form and a Fittings & Contents Form.


  • The buyer will need to ensure that they have contacted their mortgage lender or financial advisor if they are obtaining a mortgage. Alternatively, if they are cash buyers they should start making arrangements for the funds to be released, especially if an account requires withdrawal notice.


  • The seller’s solicitors will issue a draft contract (together with all documents relating to the title of the property) to the buyers’ solicitors


  • The buyer’s solicitors will look through the paperwork and raise any enquiries necessary with the seller’s solicitors. The buyer’s solicitors will ask for authority from the buyer to undertake the required property searches. The search pack will consist of a Local Authority search, a Drainage & Water search and an Environmental search. Depending on where the property is, it may also be necessary to carry out additional searches, such as a Coal Mining search.


  • The buyer’s solicitors will need to be in receipt of a mortgage offer prior to an exchange of contracts. Generally their solicitor will also be representing the interests of the lender and will need to ensure that the paperwork provided for the property satisfies any requirements of the lender.


  • Once the buyer’s solicitor is satisfied with replies to all enquiries, search results and that all finance is in place, they will prepare a report to their client and ask the buyer to sign the contract. The seller’s solicitors will ask the seller to sign their copy of the contract.


  • If the transaction is within a “chain” i.e. if the buyer has something to sell and/or the seller has something to buy, then exchange of contracts can not take place until all parties within the chain are ready to proceed.



  • Exchange of contracts will take place when all parties are ready. ‘Exchange’ is usually carried out by the solicitors over the telephone. A 10% deposit is generally required on exchange of contracts. However, if the transaction is within a chain, the deposit coming up from the bottom of the chain will usually be accepted without the buyer having to “top up” their deposit.


  • The completion date will be set. This will have been discussed prior to exchanging contracts and must be a week day.


  • The buyer should ensure that their building insurance is on risk from the day that exchange of contracts occurs.


  • Once exchange has taken place, the buyer’s solicitors will prepare a Transfer document which both parties will then sign. This document will be used on completion to transfer the property from the name of the seller to the name of the buyer at the Land Registry.


  • The buyer’s solicitors will ensure that mortgage funds are applied for in line with the requirements of the lender. The funds will usually arrive with the solicitors the day before completion. The buyer’s solicitors will then conduct a Land Registry search and request the balance of money they require to complete.



  • On the day of completion, the buyer’s solicitors will send the purchase money by bank transfer to the seller’s solicitors. If the transaction is in a chain then there is likely to be a short delay whilst all funds travel through the solicitors’ bank accounts, from the bottom of the chain upwards.


  • Once the seller’s solicitors have received the completion funds, they will call the estate agents to confirm that the keys to the property can be released to the buyer.


  • The seller’s solicitors will redeem any mortgage or charge that is registered against the property. They will also send the signed Transfer and any deeds or documents to the buyer’s solicitors.


  • The buyer’s solicitors will submit a Land Transaction Return together with payment for stamp duty to HM Revenue & Customs.


  • The buyer’s solicitors will send an application to the Land Registry to have the property transferred to the name of the buyer.


  • Once the Land Registry has completed the registration, the solicitor will send the buyer a copy of the new Land Registry title. They will also confirm to the buyer’s mortgage lender that the Land Registry have updated their records



  • Unpack the boxes!


  • Enjoy your new home!



Our conveyancing team aim to deliver a smooth, efficient, stress free service. For further information or a fixed price quote for our conveyancing services please contact Gemma Williams on 01271 349976 or send her an email at [email protected]