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Solicitors, contracts and completion

First-time buyers

Solicitors, contracts and completion

The legal process involved in buying a home can be complicated and you will need to instruct a solicitor to act for you when you reserve your new home.

Your solicitor will check the contracts, title deeds and make searches and enquiries on your behalf. The next important step is when you receive your mortgage offer. You will then normally be ready to proceed to the main three steps in the home buying process:

1. Signing contracts

When you have received your mortgage offer, you need to contact your solicitor to make arrangements to sign contracts. However, if you need to sell your existing property to buy your new home you will normally be only ready to sign contracts once your buyers are in a position to proceed. Once you have signed contracts your solicitor can then proceed to exchanging contracts.

2. Exchanging contracts

On every house sale two identical contracts are prepared; the seller signs one and the buyer signs the other. When both parties are ready to proceed contracts are exchanged, making both parties legally bound to proceed with the sale and purchase of a home. When you are ready to exchange contracts your solicitor will ask you for your exchange deposit. When exchanging contracts your solicitor will agree a moving date for you: this is called the completion date. If your new home is ready we will be able to agree a date with you to complete. If your new home is still under construction, we will give you an estimated date and in due course a formal notice when your home is ready, which will enable you to move within the following two weeks.

In the event that you are unable to exchange contracts within your original reservation period don’t panic! Please ensure your solicitor contacts our solicitor to explain the reasons why and discuss the possibility of an extension to your reservation period. This may affect the agreed sale price of your chosen home or any special arrangements which we have made.

3. Completion

When your new home is ready our solicitor will serve notice on your solicitor to legally complete your new home purchase within the next two weeks (10 days in Scotland). The completion date is normally the date that you move, although if you have no property to sell you can move into your new home at any time following the completion date.

Your solicitor will send you a financial statement letting you know the balance of any money you may need to pay to him before completing your purchase.

On the completion day your solicitor will transfer the balance purchase price to our solicitor by same day bank transfer. When the money is received we will give you the keys to your new home and arrange for the title deeds to be sent to your solicitor.


If you’d like help in buying your home or would like us to recommend a local independent solicitor, please feel free to contact Persimmon.