You have received an offer from someone to buy your home that you find acceptable. You have so much to do before you move. Spare a thought for the legal process that now follows.

To reduce delays in the sale it is probably best to have chosen which solicitor you would like to use for the sale process at the same time as you choose your estate agent.

After you have a formal offer you will complete a number of questionnaires about the property. Firstly there is a property information form which includes information on boundaries, disputes, building works, and utilities. Secondly there is a fittings and contents form on which you add the items within the property that you are selling with it, for example the curtains, carpets and blinds. If you are selling a leasehold property then there are additional forms for completion by you and the freeholder or the management company.

The forms you complete are sent out by your solicitor to the buyer’s solicitor with a contract, a copy of the legal title from the land registry (if your title is registered) and an Energy Performance Certificate. The contract pack will also include any planning permissions or building regulation consents you have for the property and any other relevant documents referred to on the questionnaires above.

When the buyer’s solicitor receives this paperwork he will pass copies of it to your buyer; he will order searches on your property and he will raise enquiries with your solicitor. Your solicitor will pass a copy of these enquiries to you for your replies. It is important that the answers you give on the questionnaires above and in your replies to these enquiries are accurate as if they are not your buyer may be able to claim compensation from you after he has completed his purchase.

Your buyer will at the same time be arranging to have a survey carried out on the property you are selling and may be awaiting a mortgage offer. The surveyor may raise some enquiries which again the buyer’s solicitor will raise with your solicitor.

Once the buyer’s solicitor is happy with the contract documents, the results of his searches, the survey, any offer of mortgage and the replies to enquiries he will report to the buyer and ask him to sign his part of the contract. Your solicitor will then send you your part of the contract to sign.

When you and the buyer have signed your parts of the contract and are happy with all the paperwork then the solicitors will confirm that they are in a position to exchange contracts. Exchange of contracts is the time when your buyer becomes committed to buy from you and you become committed to sell. At any time before exchange of contracts you or the buyer can withdraw from the sale without any legal consequences.

If you have a related purchase then your solicitor will be following the procedure above in relation to your purchase so that your purchase can be tied in with your sale. The solicitors acting for all parties in the chain will be doing this too and it is only when all parties in the chain have reached the positon above that an exchange can take place. On exchange of contracts a moving date is fixed. All parties in the chain must agree to this moving date before an exchange of contracts can take place.

There is still work to be done by you and your solicitor after exchange of contracts takes place but at least you know now that you will be moving. If you want any help in the legal aspects of moving home then contact us on for a free quotation.