The Property Buying Process: A Guide to Understanding Time lines and Steps

26th September 2023

The Property Buying Process: A Guide to Understanding Time lines and Steps Many clients want to know how the property buying process works and how long it will take to complete. An average property transaction takes between 8-12 week, but this often depends on how quickly the other third parties in the transaction take to respond. There are a number of different stages when buying a property.  Here I summarise the typical stages, however each transaction is unique and there could be more or less stages depending on the specifics of the transaction. 

Buying a property
Stage 1 – Anti money Laundering (AML) and on boarding
Once you have instructed a solicitor to act on your behalf, you will be sent a client care pack. This will need to be completed and the necessary documents provided. Part of this process is verification of your identity and looking into how you plan on funding the purchase and providing evidence to support this. Whilst some clients may find this invasive, firms are under a legal obligation to make sure funds used for the purchase have come from legitimate sources. 

Stage 2 – Contract pack, property searches and enquires
Once the seller’s solicitor has provided your solicitor with the contract pack, they will order the various property searches. They typically include a local authority, drainage, environmental and planning search and will provide substantial information about the property and surrounding areas such as whether planning permission may be granted for a future development in the area that would negatively impact your property, the quality of the ground on which your house is built, or details of public drains and access rights. Once the results of all the searches have been received, your solicitor will review the contract pack and searches and will raise any necessary enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. It is important to note that only correspondence between the parties’ solicitors holds any legal weight. Therefore, it is important to make sure that anything you have agreed with the seller directly, or via the estate agent, is reconfirmed via the solicitors. 

Stage 3 – Mortgage 
If you are buying the property with a mortgage, your solicitor will be instructed by your lender to also act on their behalf. The solicitor therefore has a dual responsibility to you and your lender in relation to the transaction. Your solicitor will need to review the mortgage offer and report any relevant aspects of the purchase to your lender. Examples of the type of things that may need to be reported to them could be any third-party gifts, high service charges and ground rent provisions if the property you are buying is a leasehold. Each lender has their own extensive lending criteria and instructions to solicitors. Your solicitor will of course highlight the important aspects of the mortgage to you.

Stage 4 – Reporting to the client and signing final documents
Once all the enquiries have been answered by the seller’s solicitor and the lender has provided the green light to proceed with the transaction, your solicitor will prepare a report outlining the most salient aspects of the property you are buying. This does not negate the need for you to review all the paperwork provided to you throughout the transaction by your solicitor, but it is a good summary of the important information you need to know. Once you are happy you understand the report and supporting documents, your solicitor will ask you to sign the final version of the contract, transfer and, if applicable, the mortgage deed. 

Stage 5 – Exchange of contracts
Just before you are ready to exchange contracts, your solicitor will ask you to transfer 10% of the purchase price to them. This is called the exchange deposit. Once contracts are exchanged, both parties will be legally bound to complete the transaction. This is the point when the agreed completion date is locked in. If you are buying a freehold property, you must put buildings insurance in place from this date. 

Stage 6 - Completion
This is the day the property legally becomes yours and the keys are handed over. By the day of completion, your solicitor will have asked you to send them the remaining funds to complete the transaction. They will also have requested funds from your lender if you are buying the property with a mortgage. Your solicitor will send the funds to the buyer’s solicitor on the completion date. Once the seller’s solicitor has confirmed receipt of the funds and release of keys, your solicitor will let you know so you can pick up the keys, usually from the estate agent. 

Stage 7 – Post completion
Your solicitor will submit the stamp duty return and pay the stamp duty amount on your behalf. They will also submit the application to the land registry to register you as the new owners of the property as well as deal with any other post completion matters.

Allan Jay Paine Limited has been providing legal services in Palmers Green since 1961 and has during this time become a respected legal practice with a strong client base and positive relationships within the local community. Our experienced team have a range of specialities. Whether it is residential or commercial property or private client work we can assist you with our professional services. If we can assist you with anything then please contact us. 

Call: 020 8886 1404