Expert View: What is the legal process for buying a house?

Craig Rennie, HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors. Picture: HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors

Craig Rennie, HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors. Picture: HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors - Credit: Archant

When you are buying a new property, the conveyancing process can seem daunting, especially if you haven’t been through it before. Craig Rennie, conveyancing solicitor at HRJ Foreman Laws Solicitors provides an overview of the process to help you get started.

When your offer is accepted you need to instruct a conveyancer who will obtain the contract and related documents from the seller's conveyancer.

Choose a reputable firm with the Lexcel accreditation, one that is regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority and operates in accordance with the standards of Law Society's Conveyancing Scheme.

The documentation is carefully reviewed and any enquires are raised with the seller's conveyancer.

Your conveyancer will also carry out searches on your new property; these include a local authority search, water and drainage search, environmental search and chancel repair liability search. If additional searches are required, depending on your location, your conveyancer will carry those out also.

Your conveyancer will then review all the information from the searches and flag any issues which need to be addressed before the transaction can exchange.

When all enquiries are resolved and your mortgage offer is received, your conveyancer will create a pre-exchange report for you with the documents to sign. You can expect to pay your deposit at this point which is usually 10 per cent of the purchase price. When you've checked the report and signed the contract, it's time to exchange and fix a completion date.

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Your conveyancer will then set the file up for completion. This will include requesting the mortgage money from your lender, preparing your completion statement and providing details of any other sums due from you to complete.

On moving day your conveyancer will transfer the completion funds to the seller's conveyancer. When they confirm receipt, you will be able to collect the keys to your new home.

Your conveyancer will then file your Stamp Duty Land Tax return and process the payment for you. They will also apply to the Land Registry to register you as the owner of the property.

The time taken to complete the process will be dependent on your situation. If you are in a property chain, there may be several buyers and sellers, all dependent on the other. Prepare for a minimum 8-12 week process to allow for; surveys to be completed, finances to be arranged, enquiries to be dealt with and any hiccups ironed out before completion.

For conveyancing advice or a quotation email or call Hitchin 01462 458711, Letchworth Garden City 01462 488333, Welwyn Garden City 01707 887 700. Visit