How to buy a house - a guide from the experts

Pip Shaw  19-03-2015

Buying a home is a complicated process. Even if you’ve done it before, you probably won’t remember the detail from last time. So whether you’re a first time buyer or an experienced ‘mover’, here is our guide to help you through the various steps.

First Stages

After you’ve found your ideal property, you will agree a price with the estate agent. At that point they will ask you which solicitor you’ve instructed to act for you.

The estate agent then writes to us to confirm the details of the transaction including the address of the property, the agreed price, and who the seller’s solicitor is.

Getting the paperwork together

We will write to you setting out all the costs associated with buying a house, from our fees, to the Stamp Duty Land Tax and the Land Registry fee.

If you have a mortgage, we will receive a copy of the offer from your lender, and write to you explaining the key points that you must be aware of. The lender requires us to have certain searches carried out on the property, to ensure it is a safe investment for them, as well as you. These cost between £200-250 in most cases. We only charge you what they cost us.

We will also receive in the ‘Contract Papers’ from the seller’s solicitor. This will be the initial information regarding the property, including the current Title Document as registered at the Land Registry, the Fittings & Contents Form and the Property Information Form and if relevant, the Leasehold Information Form. We will send you copies of these documents, with notes on key points and what we need you to check and confirm.

We will make the necessary enquiries of the seller’s solicitor, the Local Authority and any other relevant authorities with regard to the property to ensure we are aware of all matters that affect the property. This will include warranties for building work, planning permissions, checking the rights of way or access points to the house, boundaries, checking the lease if relevant, and any certificates for servicing the electrics, gas and boiler within the property.

Preparing for Exchange

We then report to you on all the issues that we have discovered with regard to the property.

We will enclose the documentation for you to see, and include the responses received from the seller’s solicitor in response to our enquiries. We will have asked them various questions depending on the results of the searches, the extent of any building work that has been done, and matters that affect the land such as rights of way, shared access or drainage agreements.

You will then be in a position to make a final decision as to whether you want to proceed with the purchase. You then sign the contract (and usually the Transfer Deed too), and provide us with the deposit funds, usually 10% of the asking price. If you are selling a home at the same time, we can usually use the deposit you receive from the buyer of your home, as the deposit on the house you are buying.


Once both parties have agreed to proceed, signed the contracts and provided any necessary funds, the solicitors will ‘exchange’ contracts. This is a legally binding agreement that the seller will sell and the buyer will buy, for the agreed price and on the day specified in the contract. The deposit is non-returnable from this point on.

You will now need to have buildings insurance in place for the property.

Preparing for Completion

We will request the funds from your lender, if you have a mortgage, and any balance of funds from you. We will send you a completion statement so you know how much you need to provide to us in order to complete. All funds need to be cleared in our account the day before completion so we can transfer them to your seller’s solicitor as early as possible on completion day.

Completion Day

We will transfer the funds to your seller’s solicitor as early as we can, and when they have confirmed receipt, they will instruct the estate agent, or their client, to release the keys to you. You are now able to move in!

After Completion

It’s not yet done for your solicitor.

While you begin unpacking your boxes, and checking if the phone is working, we will arrange for your stamp duty to be paid.

We will then register you as the legal owner of the property at the Land Registry. To do this we need confirmation from the seller’s solicitor that the previous owner’s mortgage has been redeemed and their lender has removed their charge from the title. We also need the Transfer Deed signed by the seller, as evidence that the seller has transferred the property to you, in return for the price paid.

If you are buying a leasehold property we will also communicate with the freeholder or the managing agent, by providing the Notice of Assignment of the Lease to them. The agent will usually charge you for doing this.

Once this is done, we will send you the documentation which shows you as the new owner, along with the original paperwork for you to keep on file, such as the warranties, planning permission paperwork and receipts.  

For a free no obligation discussion or quote, contact us to speak to one of our conveyancing experts today.

In addition to our residential conveyancing services, we are also experts in commercial conveyancing, leases, landlord and tenant issues, and agricultural land.