The house buying process can seem very long-winded and complicated but in reality it is just that so many different things need to be checked before the mortgagee will hand over the monies to the buyer’s solicitor and the buyer’s solicitor will hand over the monies to the seller. Given that the purchase of their home may well be the biggest financial decision of their life, most people are happy that there are so many checks and balances along the way.

After you have agreed to buy or sell a property, you will employ a conveyancer to do most of the paperwork for you. They will liaise with your lender if you have a mortgage and with the other side’s legal representative also. They will draft a contract for the sale (which in most cases nowadays is a pre-printed standard document that covers most eventualities. ‘Pre-contract Enquiries’ will be made of the seller. This is where the buyer’s representative gets to ask detailed questions such as ‘Does the property flood?’ or ‘Have you ever had a problem with the neighbours wall?’ These questions must be answered truthfully.

After the pre contract enquiries have been made, searches have been undertaken and answered and the mortgage offer has been formally accepted by the buyer (after a mortgage valuation has been undertaken), any cash required for the deposit, professional fees and charges will be requested by the buyer’s solicitor and once she is ‘in funds’ and the contract to purchase has been signed by her client, the buyer, she will be ready to ‘exchange contracts’.

After contracts have been exchanged both sides of the transaction are legally committed to the terms of the contract, which in basic terms usually means the buyer must pay the purchase price by an agreed date and the seller must hand over the keys to the property and vacate by a certain date. A deposit is usually paid by the buyer’s solicitor to the seller’s solicitor at this time but, critically, the purchase price has still to be paid and so whilst the transaction is agreed and legally binding, it has yet to happen.

The date that the contract requires the transaction to be completed is the day upon which the remaining monies are paid over to the buyer’s solicitor and the seller vacates the property and hands over the keys. This is usually moving day and is known as the date of ‘completion’.

Next article: How is a Completion Date Chosen?

To speak to a mortgage adviser please contact us on 01628 507477.

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