Because your house is probably the single most important investment that you will ever make, it is vital that you understand as much as possible about the process of buying and selling houses. This area is designed to provide you with that information in an easily digested way. There are many links in this page that take you to explanations of the terms used by estate agents and solicitors
How the Process Starts
You have found the house of your dreams, or, at least, one you mean to buy, and you have agreed a price. The next thing to do is to arrange for the transfer of the property from the seller to you. Here is an outline of the legal process involved.
1 Sale agreed
- Once a sale is agreed the Sellers solicitor will obtain the Title Deeds and prepare a draft Contract which the Sellers Solicitor will then send to the Buyers Solicitor.
- The Seller is asked to complete a Property Information Form and a Fittings and Contents Form which are also forwarded to the Buyers Solicitor.
- The Buyers Solicitor will in the meantime make a
Local Authority Search and any other searches which the Buyers Solicitor considers appropriate.
- The Buyers Solicitors once they have read through the Contract papers will usually request the Sellers Solicitors to provide further information or clarification on the Contract papers (known as, enquiries before contract). The Sellers Solicitors will either answer the enquiries or seek further information from the Sellers to enable the enquiries to be answered.
- Once satisfactory replies to the searches have been received together with a Mortgage Offer (if a Buyer is having a mortgage), the Buyer will be asked to sign the Buyers part of the Contract and pay the Deposit. A Completion Date will be discussed and once this is agreed Exchange of Contracts takes place.
2 After exchange of contracts
- The Buyers Solicitor will prepare the Transfer Deed which will be sent to the Sellers Solicitor for approval and signature by the Seller.
- The Buyers Solicitor will make the Final Searches and will request the Mortgage funds from the Mortgage Lender and any funds required from the Buyer to complete the transaction.
- The Sellers Solicitor will in the meantime find out from the Sellers Bank or Building Society how much is required to pay off the Sellers existing Mortgage and also request an invoice from the Estate Agents.
- On Completion day the Buyers Solicitor pays the balance of purchase money to the Sellers Solicitor who then pays off the existing Mortgage and also settles the Estate Agents account. The Transfer Deed and the Title Deeds are then handed over to the Buyers Solicitor.
- The Buyer can now move in to the Buyers new property.
- The Buyers Solicitor will now submit to HM Revenue and customs the completed Stamp Duty Land Tax Return and if appropriate will arrange to pay the Stamp Duty.
- Afterwards the Buyers Solicitor will send the Transfer Deed to the Land Registry to register the change of ownership.
- The new Deeds will then be sent to the Bank or Building Society as security for the Mortgage if appropriate or handed to the new owner of the property.