Conveyancing – guide to the legal process of buying a house

2 min Read Published: 01 Aug 2013

signing a contractThe legal process involved in transferring the ownership of a property from one person to another is known as conveyancing. Most of us are familiar with this term but may not know the details of the process involved.

Here is a quick guide to the legal process of purchasing a property.

There are three main steps to the legal process:

  • Pre-exchange of Contracts
  •  Exchange of Contracts
  • Completion

Pre-exchange of Contracts

- Your solicitor and the seller exchange details, your solicitor receives a copy of the draft contract which outlines:

  • Details of both parties
  • Sale price
  • Which fixtures and fittings are included
  • Details of the seller's title deeds

- Standard searches are applied for which check if there any issues that may arise now, or in the future, regarding the property.

- Your solicitor will address a number of standard enquiries to the seller's solicitor which include:

  • Are there any ongoing disputes over the property
  • Exact boundaries
  • Footpaths and right of way across the property
  • Restrictive covenants
  • Are there any planning restrictions
  • Are access to utilities shared by neighbours

- Your solicitor will send you a mortgage deed to sign if required.

Exchange of Contracts

After contracts are exchanged, you are legally bound to purchase the property. So before contracts are exchanged the following items need to have been addressed.

  • You have the deposit ready
  • Your mortgage offer is in place
  • The survey is satisfactory
  • Life insurance and property insurance are set up
  • A completion date has been set

- On exchange of contracts the non- refundable deposit is paid to the seller.

- A transfer document is prepared and signed by both parties

- Arrangements are made to have the mortgage monies available to transfer on the completion date

- Any fees such as Land Registry and Stamp Duty are paid


- On the date of completion funds are sent by your solicitor to the seller's solicitors and the sale of the house is completed

- You can then collect the keys and move in, the buyer must have vacated the premises at a pre-arranged time .