We have all heard it said that moving house is up there in the top three most stressful experiences of your life. Although the reasons for moving are usually positive, eg, a bigger house for an expanding family, or relocating to a better job, these reasons can often be forgotten and what should be an exciting new start can rapidly turn into a difficult and bewildering trial.

Remember that your solicitor is there to help; not just with the technical legal work to ensure that you don’t acquire a property with a problem, but also to ensure that the transaction is as swift and smooth as possible, and to iron out any issues that arise during the course of it. It helps to know what happens when during the transaction and set out below is a brief guide outlining the key steps:-


  1. Once a buyer is found and the price agreed, the estate agents will provide a sales memorandum to all the parties giving details of the transaction, ie, buyers, sellers, their solicitors, price and situation of the parties.
  2. We will draw up the draft contract and ask you to complete several property information forms, which will all be sent to the buyers’ solicitors together with any other relevant paperwork you have pertaining to your property, eg, guarantees, planning permissions.
  3. We will ask you to provide details of your existing mortgage if you have one so that we can apply for any title deeds your lender might be holding and a note of the amount outstanding on your mortgage.
  4. The buyers’ solicitors may request further information and we will liaise with you to deal with their queries.
  5. Once the buyers are ready, a completion date will be negotiated. We will ask you to sign the documentation in readiness for exchange of contracts, which is the point at which the deal becomes legally binding.
  6. On the day of completion, you will move out if you have not already done so, the buyer’s solicitors will send us the sale price, and ownership of the property passes to the buyer.
  7. Out of the sale price we will repay your mortgage (if you have one), legal costs and disbursements, and the estate agent’s bill. The net proceeds will either be sent to you or, if you have a related purchase, put towards that transaction.


  1. As with the sale, the first step is to negotiate the price and then the estate agents will circulate details of the deal to all the parties involved.
  2. We will liaise with the seller’s solicitors who will provide us with the draft contract and property information forms filled in by the seller.
  3. There are three main elements that we need to have in place before exchanging contracts:-
    1. The searches – We will ask you for the fees in advance.
    2. The finance – if you are having a mortgage, we will need to have the offer in our hands and check for any special conditions that need to be complied with. We will also check with you where any balancing funds are coming from, eg, savings, other loans or gifts.
    3. The title – this will cover not only matters relating to ownership of the property but also general information such as boundaries, restrictive covenants, guarantees, planning. If necessary, further enquiries will be asked of the seller.
  4. Once all these are in place, we will invite you to come in to sign all the documentation and discuss completion dates. It is common practice now for exchange of contracts and completion to take place within a short space of time, and sometimes even on the same day. We will provide you with a financial statement at the earliest opportunity to enable you to put us in funds to complete the purchase. If there is likely to be several weeks between exchange and completion then we shall ask you for the deposit (usually ten percent of the purchase price) in the first instance with any balance to be paid closer to the date of completion.
  5. Once the date is agreed and we have funds, contracts will be exchanged.
  6. We will apply to your lender for the mortgage advance and carry out the pre-completion searches and formalities to gear up for completion.
  7. On the day of completion, we will send the purchase price to the seller’s solicitors and the property becomes yours.
  8. We will deal with submission of the stamp duty return to the Inland Revenue, register your ownership (and any mortgage) at the Land Registry, and send you and your lender a copy of the title information document to conclude matters.