After agreeing sale terms with a buyer

On the basis that they are in a position to proceed (i.e. either having no property to sell or having already found a buyer for their own home) then you will be able to reach agreement (Subject to contract and survey) on the sale of your property.

Step 1: Solicitors

When a sale is agreed you will need to appoint a conveyancer to handle the legal side of the property sale. If you do not have a solicitor already we can arrange a competitive quotation from a competent legal representative.

Step 2: Buyer's Mortgage

The buyer should apply for their mortgage at an early stage of proceedings.

The mortgage company will arrange a valuation of the property and take certain references with regard to the buyer which, if all received satisfactorily, will result in them issuing a “Mortgage Offer” to them along with a copy to their solicitor.

We have a Financial Adviser should either yourself or your buyer/s need assistance or want to get comparable quotations.

Step 3: Survey

If your buyer is obtaining a mortgage their lender will usually arrange for a surveyor to carry out a valuation of the property and possibly, if requested by the buyer, a more detailed inspection.

In certain circumstances the buyer may arrange for an independent full structural survey.

Step 4: The ongoing legal process

Having obtained the title deeds your solicitor will prepare a draft contract to send to your buyers solicitors.

“Pre Contract Enquiries”

Your solicitor will send you questionnaires relating to items such as fixtures and fittings as well as standard enquiries that the buyers solicitors would usually raise e.g. which boundary have you maintained, do you have any guarantees, etc.

Having received the draft contract and the information supplied by yourself the buyers solicitors will ascertain whether there are any further questions they need to ask and put these to your own solicitors.


The buyers conveyancer will apply to the local council for a search. This can take a reasonable length of time hence we recommend that the buyer places their solicitor in funds to despatch this search as soon as they receive the contract etc. from your solicitors.

Step 5: Signing the contract and paying the deposit

Once the buyers solicitor has completed the necessary legal works and is in possession of a mortgage offer and local council search, then they will contact them with a view to "reporting" on all the aspects they have covered.

On the basis that everything is satisfactory they will arrange for them to sign the contract and pay the required deposit in anticipation of exchange.

They will also liaise with your solicitors in order that you can arrange to sign your own copy of the contract.

It should be noted that the act of signing the contract does not commit either you or the buyer legally until such time as the contracts are "exchanged".

It should also be noted that the buyers solicitor will need the deposit to be in "cleared funds" before they exchange, in other words a building society cheque or bankers draft is immediately acceptable, whilst a personal cheque would have to await bank clearance.

Step 6: Exchange of Contracts

As previously stated, until this takes place neither party is committed legally to the other. Contracts should not normally be exchanged until all of the previous stages have been satisfactorily covered. In the event that your property transaction is part of "a chain" then exchange can only take place as quickly as the last link is ready.

Prior to exchanging contracts each of the solicitors will have liaised with their clients to find a mutually agreeable completion date which is then inserted into the contract to become a legally binding date for the final move.

Contracts are then formally exchanged between solicitors committing both parties to complete on the date set. The deposit is retained by the owner should the buyer fail to complete. (In other words not pay the balance of the purchase price at completion).

Step 7: Completion

During the interval between exchange of contracts and completion the solicitors are involved in a number of legal works. These including arranging for the necessary deeds to be signed, preparing the final conveyance/transfer, liaising with the bank/building society and obtaining the balance of monies required to complete from the purchaser.

When completion takes place the purchasers solicitor hands the balance of the purchase price to the sellers solicitor in return for the title deeds and keys.

Often keys are left with the selling agents to hand over on completion. Keys cannot be released until the selling agent has received instructions from the owners solicitors. The selling agent also has no legal obligation to deal with the handing over of keys and can thus only do so once the above permission has been given or instructions to the contrary received in writing from the owner. The owner should ensure that all keys are available for the buyer.

Step 8: Points to remember

1) Insurance of property and contents

2) Arrangements re utilities e.g. cancelling existing electricity, telephone etc and arranging them for the new property.

3) Instruct a removal firm at the earliest possible date after exchange of contracts

4) Advise council and water authorities of your move for purposes of rates.

Agents Note

Unfortunately we cannot control the events of the transaction and can thus only report on the progress of which we are advised. Neither solicitor is under an obligation to liaise with the selling agent and the mortgage company will generally only discuss details with their client by virtue of the Data Protection Act.