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The legal process of buying a home

Your step-by-step guide to the legal process of buying a home As soon as you’ve reserved your new home, it’s time for the legal process to begin. Each step needs to be fully completed so that by the end of the process, the home is legally yours.

Step 1: Appoint a solicitor or conveyancer

Your first task is choosing a legal expert - either one of our recommended panel or an expert you’ve found independently. They will draw up a contract outlining exactly what their services are, as well as how much you will need to pay for their time.

Step 2: Check your new home contract

If you’re buying with us, we will send a draft contract for your new home to your solicitor or conveyancer. They will check what it includes and raise any queries – you will also be able to see a copy.

Step 3: Carry out property and local land searches

Property searches will need to be carried out on your new home to make sure there aren’t any problems with the surrounding area. Potential problems could include developments that might cause disruption, or public rights of way that have been infringed. Your solicitor will also request a local land charges search – this is designed to show any cost that could be passed on to you as the new property owner. In most cases, you will have to pay your solicitor or conveyancer in advance for these searches.

Step 4: Receive your formal mortgage offer

By this stage you should have already received – or be about to receive – your formal mortgage offer. Pass this on to your legal representative, who will make sure all the terms and conditions are how they should be.

Step 5: Sign and exchange contracts

Once all these steps have been followed – and the surveys have been completed – it’s time to sign your contracts. By this point, you’ll need to have arranged to transfer your deposit to your solicitor, who will release it to the seller on moving in day. It’s then time to exchange contracts. Your solicitor or conveyancer will handle this on your behalf – once they’re exchanged, you’re legally bound to buy your new home at the price you’ve agreed.

Step 6: Register your title deeds

Your legal representative will then send the title deeds for your home to Land Registry so they can be transferred into your name. The title deeds to your home are sent by your solicitor to your mortgage lender, who will keep hold of them until you have fully paid off your loan

Step 7: Transfer money to the seller

On moving in day, otherwise known as completion day, your solicitor will let the seller know when the money for your new home has cleared. It’s then time to pick up your keys.

Step 8: Pay your stamp duty

Your solicitor or conveyancer will make sure you pay any Stamp Duty owed on your new home. This needs to be transferred to HMRC within 30 days of your completion date, otherwise you could face a fine. It’s likely you will be asked to pay what you owe well before then to make sure you don’t miss the deadline.

Step 9: Receive your legal documents

You can expect to receive the legal documents for your new home in the post. It can take around 20 days for them to arrive. 

Step 10: Settle your legal bill

Once the conveyancing process has finished, you’ll receive a final statement showing how much you owe. It’ll also give you a deadline for when you need to pay the bill.

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