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What actually happens when I buy a house?

A house purchase is probably one of the largest purchases we will ever make in our lives, but do you actually understand the process that happens when you buy a property?

The first step in buying a house would be to instruct a solicitor; you will need a solicitor to complete the legal process of buying a property and to register the property in your name following completion. If you would like an estimate with regard to buying (or selling) a property, please send an email to [email protected] and we will be able to provide you with a tailored estimate.

One you have instructed a solicitor, the solicitor will contact you to confirm your instructions, request copies of your identification documents and payment of a small sum of money on account in order to request searches etc.

Once the initial steps are completed and the file is open, the seller of the property will provide your solicitor with a contract and initial papers. Your solicitor will then thoroughly review these and raise enquiries on the contents of the papers and on the title of the property; these usually involve requesting copies of further documents, building regulations and planning permissions. Once the search results have been received, these will also be reviewed to ensure there are no adverse entries and further enquiries will be raised.

At this time, your lender (if you have one) will usually provide a copy of your mortgage offer for your solicitor to review. Your solicitor will compile for you, a report on the contents of your mortgage offer and advise you of any conditions or clauses of which you need to be aware. The report will often include a copy of your mortgage deed, which you will be invited to sign and return.

Once your mortgage offer is agreed, enquiries have been dealt with and all search results have been received and reviewed, your solicitor will compile a report on title for you. This document (which is often very long) will provide an overview of the whole transaction and advise you of anything you need to be aware of with regard to the purchase of the property.

Included with your report will often be a copy of the transfer and contract with signing instructions. If you are happy with the report on title and there is nothing further required from you, your conveyancer will ask you to sign both documents, return the signed paperwork to the office and make arrangements to provide your deposit.

A standard deposit is usually 10% of the purchase price.

Once all parties in the transaction (and in the chain) are at this point, a mutual completion date can be arranged, and exchange of contracts can begin. This usually starts with the person at the bottom of the chain giving a ‘release’ to the party above them: this is essentially an agreement to complete. These releases will go up the chain, and once the releases reach the top, the top of the chain will exchange, and then the exchanges will work backwards down the chain until it reaches the bottom and everyone has exchanged. It is at this point that the transaction becomes legally binding and the burden of insuring the property passes to the new buyer.

Once you have exchanged, your solicitor will begin the post exchange process, which involves completing the final searches and requesting your mortgage funds from your lender. A completion statement will also be drafted, advising you if any further funds are required from you in order to complete.

The big day! Once the completion date arrives, your solicitor will send the purchase monies (and any money you are paying for fittings and contents) to the seller’s solicitor who will confirm receipt and date the contract . The agent can then release the keys and you can begin moving in!

Following completion your solicitor will pay any stamp duty that is due and register the property in your name.

This is a very simple overview of a purchase transaction and of course, not all matters are simple. There may be additional steps depending on your circumstances, if the property is for example listed, is a new build, or in shared ownership.

If you are looking to purchase your first (or second or third!) home, please send the details to [email protected] and we will be able to provide you with a detailed estimate with regard to our fees.

Further Reading:

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Get in Touch

Our Property and Commercial Department is headed by Martin Reynolds an experienced commercial solicitor with a background in commercial dispute resolution and insolvency law. To contact Martin and his team; call 0118 958 9711 or email [email protected].

"barrettandco" and "Barrett & Co" are trading names of Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP, a Limited Liability Partnership incorporated in England and Wales under registration number OC356263, with registered office at Advantage House, 87 Castle Street, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 7SN. Barrett & Co Solicitors LLP is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number 549694).

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