Property conveyancing and legal process – Part 2

In part 2 of our property conveyancing guide we look at what is involved in the closing stages of the home buying and selling process. You may wish to read Part 1 of the Property Conveyancing Guide here.

Signing the contract

signing contractOnce your lawyer is satisfied that all of his enquiries have been dealt with; he has seen satisfactory search results and he is in possession of his copy of the formal offer of mortgage you will be invited to sign the contract and various other papers. This will either be in person or through the post. You should also receive a report, often called a “property report” at this stage which will set out any salient points arising from the searches and enquiries.

You should read this carefully and ask as many questions as you need to be satisfied that you understand the contents of the report – remember it is your lawyer’s job to investigate and present the facts but it is up to you (and potentially your mortgage lender) to decide if the property represents a good investment.

Signing the contract does not make it binding, it just means that your lawyer will now be in a position to “exchange” contracts.

Exchange of contracts

Exchange is the point at which the transaction does become binding. This is usually done in a telephone call between the buyer’s and seller’s lawyers. They will each have a copy of the contract signed by their own client and they will go through it check both copies are identical. At the end of the conversation exchange is deemed to have taken place and both buyer and seller are bound to complete. The date for completion will have been pre-agreed between buyer and seller via their lawyers.

The deposit must be in the account of the buyer’s lawyer as cleared funds before exchange can take place.


On exchange of contracts a date will be fixed for completion. This is the day when the seller moves out and the buyer moves in. No one can guarantee what time completion will happen – the matter is deemed completed when the seller’s lawyer receives the purchase monies from buyer’s lawyer.

This is sent by telegraphic transfer which is guaranteed on the same day (if sent before the bank’s cut-off time) but is not instant. Provided there are no problems, you can expect completion to occur at around lunchtime. Once the seller’s lawyer has received the funds he will advise the selling agent to release the keys to the buyer, who must collect them from the agent and you now have your new property.

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