Infographic: Your guide to the legal process of buying a house

If you’re buying a house it is only natural to be unsure of what lies ahead in the conveyancing process, especially if you are first time buyer.

However, understanding the process and what your conveyancer will need from you can speed up your move.

That is why we have provided a handy infographic to allow you to understand what to expect from the conveyancing process when buying a home.

The conveyancing process: Buying a house

Enquiries and searches

The first step your solicitor will take is to raise enquiries about the property you are buying with the seller’s solicitors.

This can include whether the house is a freehold or a leasehold, how long any lease will last for and any questions on boundaries or restrictions on the property.

At this stage, your solicitor will also order a number of searches on the property.

Some of the common searches carried out on properties include:

  • Local authority search – this will check factors such as whether the property is a listed building or subject to a tree protection order. It will also identify if there any plans for new roads, rails schemes or planning decisions that could affect the property.
  • Land Registry check – this is simply checking legal documents to prove the seller’s ownership of the property.
  • Environmental search – this is a common report which contains information on any landfill sites, former or current industry, flooding predictions and ground stability at and around the property.
  • Chancel repair search – this is to check that there are no leftover liabilities on the property to help pay for church repairs. An alternative to this is to take out Chancel repair insurance for around £20.
  • Water authority search – This identifies how you get your water and if any public drains could affect your ability to carry out extensions or building work on the property
  • Coal mining search – This is common in Lancashire and the North West due to the heavy mining activity in the area. Your solicitor will receive a report which will detail whether any mining activity has been carried beneath the property or in the nearby area.

Proof of mortgage funds

In order to progress the sale, your conveyancer will require proof of your mortgage funds at this stage.

This would usually be a copy of your mortgage offer and bank statements showing the build-up of funds for any deposit you are placing on the home.

If you are buying the home with a gifted deposit, you should let your conveyancer know as they will need a letter from the person that is providing the funds.

Signing the contract

Once all enquiries raised have been answered and all searches have been returned you will then sign the contracts for the purchase of the property.

It is important to raise any questions you have on the property before you sign the contract with your conveyancer.

You will also be provided with a fixtures and fittings form completed by the seller. If there are any items not included which you expected to be included in the sale, you should let your conveyancer know before signing the contract.

Exchange of contracts

This is when you will be in a binding contract to purchase the property with a fixed date for moving in.

The exchange of contracts simply involves the buyer and seller’s solicitors reading the contracts to each to make sure they are identical.

Once contracts have been exchanged it is important to remember that:

  • If you do not complete the purchase you will lose your deposit and owe the seller more if the deposit was less than 10%.
  • The seller is legally required to sell and you can sue if they pull out at this stage.
  • The seller cannot accept another offer for the property.

Completion Day

Completion will normally take place once the seller’s solicitor has confirmed that they have received all the money due for the purchase.

The seller will then usually drop the keys with the estate agent for you to collect. You are then free to move into your new home!

Have any questions on the legal process of buying a house?

If you have any legal questions about the conveyancing process, call our expert property team on 01282 695 400.