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Buying a House

After finding a house the buyer must tell the estate agents which solicitors/conveyancers are to act. The agents then tell the buyer’s solicitor or conveyancer which solicitor conveyancer is acting for the seller. The two sets of solicitors/conveyancers then make contact.

The buyer’s solicitor will ask for some money from the buyer up front to cover the cost of the local and drainage searches.

The seller’s solicitor sends the buyer’s solicitor the draft contracts (see above), copies of the title deeds and the Property Information and Fixtures and Fittings Forms. The buyer’s solicitor reports to the buyer on these documents (usually sending copies). Local and drainage search requests are sent off.

The buyer must arrange finances at this stage. This will usually mean a mortgage. Surveys are done and any necessary life assurance proposals are made. The mortgage offer is then issued. Usually this goes directly to the buyer from the mortgage company. A copy is sent to the buyer’s solicitor together with instructions to the solicitor on any particular research the mortgage company wants.

Only when the mortgage is arranged and it is known that all conditions can be met, the searches are returned and clear, the life assurance and buildings insurance are in place can exchange of contracts take place.

The buyer signs the contract and gives the deposit to the solicitor. Deposits used to be 10% of the purchase price but commonly 5% is acceptable. It is important to understand the word “deposit” in the legal sense. Most people regard “deposit” as the difference between the purchase price and the mortgage i.e. the money that is being put into the purchase. In the legal sense it is an amount of money paid to the seller’s solicitor to guarantee performance of the contract. If the contract is broken, the seller can in some circumstances forfeit the deposit. Whatever is paid by deposit is deducted from the moneys paid over on completion; if a deposit of 5% is paid, the balance of 95% is paid on completion.

Each party signs an identical contract. Exchange of contracts takes place by the solicitors dating the contracts and swapping copies. Before exchange the completion date must be agreed and it is inserted in the contract at the time of exchange. The seller and buyer do not need to be present at exchange.

What Happens Next?

The buyer’s solicitor now requests the mortgage monies and sends a completion statement to the buyer showing how much more money is needed. Final searches are made. These are a bankruptcy search against the buyer and a Land Registry search to make sure that nothing has been added to the copy title deeds which the buyer’s solicitor has already seen.

On the morning of completion the buyer’s solicitor telegraphs money to the seller’s solicitor and on receipt the keys are released to the buyer.

Thinking of buying a house but not sure about the conveyancing costs? Visit our Get a Conveyancing Quote page to find out exactly how much our services will cost you.

Fisher Jones Greenwood now offers Conveyancing from the Colchester, Chelmsford, Billericay, Clacton-on-Sea, and Holland-on-Sea offices.

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The following explanation aims to explain what is involved and what each party does.

Offer/s accepted

Once you have had an offer accepted on a house you are buying then this is when you contact a solicitor (us) for a quotation. You will then give the estate agent your solicitors (our) details.

Searches and enquiries

Your solicitor will ask you to provide money on account for searches (on a purchase property), full ID documents which will be verified by our team, and signed client care letter which will be emailed to you once you instruct us. Once the draft and legal paperwork is received from the seller’s solicitor your solicitor will apply for searches, report to you on the documents, and raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitor. As the search results arrive with us you will receive an email in respect of each result. We aim to drip feed you information throughout the transaction rather than overwhelm you with everything at once.

Signing the Contract

We will ask you to sign the contract and send us your deposit funds once all enquiries have been answered, search results received, mortgage offer received (if applicable) and once you are happy with everything. The contract can now be signed electronically therefore there is no need for you to attend our office unless of course you wish to do so.


On exchange of contracts your solicitor will call you to check they have your authority to exchange and your agreement to the proposed completion date. Once every solicitor in the chain has their clients’ authority and agreement to a date then the solicitors exchange on the telephone; they do not need anything further from you. Once we have exchanged contracts we will advise you to insure the purchase property, book removals etc. We will request your mortgage funds (if applicable) and any help to buy ISA money.


Your solicitor will arrange to transfer the funds to the sellers solicitor (if you are selling as well as buying then we have to wait until funds are received on your sale first) and when these have been received they will notify the estate agent who will then hand over the keys to you and you can move in!


We will register the property into your name at the Land registry after Completion when final documents have been received. Once it has been completed (this can take a couple of months) then we will send confirmation and any other relevant documents to you.

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