We understand that moving house is not something you do everyday.

A large part of the stress is caused by not knowing how the whole process works and what parts various people play in the process.

To help we have prepared these notes. The notes take you through an ideal freehold transaction (for leasehold transactions please also see the leasehold notes) for a sale and purchase. You may wish to print off a copy and tick off items as they happen in your transaction.

How long will my house purchase take?

How long it will take from your offer being accepted until you can move in to your house will depend on a number of factors. The average process takes between 10-12 weeks from receipt of instructions.

It can be quicker or slower, depending on the parties in the chain (if there is one). For example if you are a first time buyer, purchasing a new build property with a mortgage in principle it could take 10 weeks. However, if you are buying a leasehold property that requires an extension of the lease, this can take significantly longer, between 3 and 4 months. In such a situation additional charges would apply.

Stage One

Your Sale

You need to commission an Energy Performance Certificate (‘EPC’) before you can market your property. We can obtain this for you. Contact us for details. Alternatively the estate agents may arrange this. Once you have commissioned the EPC you can market your property (usually through estate agents)

Your Purchase

You view properties usually through estate agents though the web is becoming increasingly popular.

Your Sale and/or purchase

You contact us for a quote for the conveyancing work. You provide us with guide prices so we can quote. You do not need to wait until you have the exact figures.

Stage Two

Your Sale and/or Purchase

You can instruct us now before offers have been accepted.  You can contact us by telephone or email and we will take details from you. Alternatively complete the instruction section on our web site.

We will write to you confirming instructions, requesting proofs of identity and enclosing terms and conditions of business

Your sale

We send to you the property information forms for completing. We will request the deeds from your mortgage company and ask you to forward to us any that you hold.

Stage Three

Your Sale and/or purchase

Offers are made and accepted. You contact us to confirm the price accepted If you have not already instructed us this is the time to do so. You pass on our details to the estate agents who will write to us with details to the other parties solicitors. You return to us any forms outstanding from our letter referred to above or respond to our letter if instructing now. If you have bought or sold ‘privately’ then you pass on our details to your seller/buyer and ask them for their solicitor details to pass on to us.

Your Purchase

You choose the mortgage that you wish to apply for.  You pass on our details to your chosen Lender or IFA.  Your Lender will appoint us to act for them as well.  (This is included in the quote provided).

You need to give consideration to the survey you require.  Your Lender, if any, will arrange for a valuation survey (usually at your expense).  This is not a comprehensive survey.  You should give consideration as to whether you should have a “Homebuyers” survey which goes into more detail, or even a full structural survey.  Usually either of these can be arranged through your Lender.  As to which survey is best for you and the property you are buying please talk to a surveyor as we cannot advise.

Stage Four

Your Sale and/or purchase

We hear from the agents and write to the other parties solicitors to confirm you have instructed us and asking that they confirm they are instructed.

Your purchase

You continue to pursue your mortgage application.

Stage Five

Your sale

We hear from the mortgage company with the “Deeds”.

Assuming solicitors have confirmed  they are instructed by the buyer, we will send out “Contract papers” (which are a copy of  the “Deeds”, the contract and the Property information forms) to the buyer’s solicitors.

Your purchase

We receive “Contract papers” from your seller’s solicitors and read through them.

We forward to you the Property Information Form and Fixtures & Fittings Inventory.

We apply for the Searches. We raise any Additional Enquiries with the seller’s solicitors that are relevant having reviewed the Contract papers, e.g. we may be seeking copy planning permissions and building regulations approvals for any recent building works on the property.

Stage Six

Your sale

We review any Additional Enquiries we receive from your buyer’s solicitors.  We deal with those that we can answer and forward on to you any that we require your assistance with.  You answer the Additional Enquiries, return them to us and we forward responses to the buyer’s solicitors.

Your purchase

Hopefully we receive your survey.  We will review the survey to see if there are any points that the surveyor wishes us to check.  If there are any matters raised which we cannot deal with from the papers in our possession we will raise appropriate further enquiries.  Please note we are not surveyors and cannot comment on the survey in general.

Again hopefully we receive instructions from your mortgage company.  We will review those instructions and confirm the legal matters are correct and any special conditions have been satisfied.  If not we will have to write to the mortgage company.

You must check your Mortgage Offer and make sure it is what you have applied for.  You must satisfy yourself regarding any special conditions.  We are not financial advisers and we will not comment on the financial aspect of your mortgage.

Stage Seven

Your sale

Hopefully your buyer’s solicitors are now satisfied regarding all their enquiries and approve the contract which we forward to you for signing in readiness for exchange of contracts.

Your purchase

Provided we have received satisfactory responses to all enquiries, good mortgage instructions and, you are content with your survey and Mortgage Offer, we will report to you with the purchase contract and explanation of the property title. If the seller cannot provide satisfactory responses, because for example there is missing paper work, we can look at obtaining indemnity insurance for this. As we can obtain a variety of indemnity policies it is difficult to give a price range for this. If this is necessary for your purchase we will notify you as soon as possible and send you a quote. If we are required to arrange this policy there will be an additional charge of £185 plus VAT for each policy that is arranged unless we are able to combine them.

If you are buying only, we will ask you to place us in funds with the deposit monies, usually 5% to 10% of the purchase price.

If you are selling as well, we would expect to use the deposit received on your sale as the deposit on your purchase.

The Exchange

Your Sale and/or Purchase

Before contracts can be exchanged everyone in a chain needs to be ready and to have signed their contracts and returned them to their solicitors.

You and the other people in the chain need to agree a moving date (known as the completion date) usually with the help of the estate agents. You then tell us the date you have agreed to.

Once everyone has signed and the completion date is agreed, we and the other solicitors will exchange contracts.  You now have a contract in place and cannot withdraw and the others cannot withdraw without paying compensation.

Your sale

We apply to your mortgage company for a redemption figure ( settlement figure) and we request that the estate agents forward to us their commission account.

Your purchase

We request the mortgage monies and carry out priority searches at the land registry.


Your Sale and/or Purchase

Between exchange and completion we prepare an account and forward it to you. You must let us have any money required to complete. If there is money due to you on completion the sum will be confirmed. We may send documents to you which you must sign and return to us.

On the completion date the solicitors send and receive the various monies and you move house.

If we are required to do a simultaneous exchange and completion (when we exchange contracts and complete on the same day) there is an additional charge of £150 plus VAT.

Alan Warnes

Chartered Legal Executive
Head of the Residential Conveyancing Team

Richard Ince

Residential Conveyancing Team

Ready to get our conveyancing experts on board?

Barrett & Co can quickly organise a quote for your conveyancing when you provide us with a few details.

Whether you are buying or selling or both, simply call us on 0118 958 9711 and ask to speak to our conveyancing experts.

Once we have completed a short series of questions, we’ll prepare you a customised quote that details all the things we will provide for you as part of our conveyancing service.

Complicated Sale or Purchase – Specialised Conveyancing

When you would like to arrange a meeting in our Reading office, because you think you have unusual requirements, or if it is a commercial property matter, please email Alan or Richard, or call us on 0118 958 9711 so that an appointment can be made to discuss in more detail.

Our commercial solicitors and conveyancing team work together to advise on a broad range of property and commercial matters including business sales and acquisitions, commercial property and high value residential transactions.

Remember our free series of conveyancing email guides are available by entering your email address here – the guides will come from Alan Warnes.