Buying or selling your home

Your guide to what's involved in buying and selling

2 minutes

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Buying and selling your home can be a stressful experience. Whether it’s your first house or your forever home, here are some frequently asked questions to help you make your move.

What is conveyancing?

No sale or purchase of property will be exactly the same. However, some home insurance companies also offer conveyancing services. Conveyancing experts aim to make the house buying process simple and stress free by carrying out all necessary property and mortgage checks, preparing the documents needed to buy or sell, and working with the seller or buyer’s solicitor on your behalf.

What's involved in a typical house sale?

A typical house sale can take around 6-8 weeks, but every sale is different. To start the conveyancing process for a sale you'll need to get your identity checked and there will be a few things conveyancers need from you:

  • The buyer's details
  • A list of fixtures and fittings that you’re planning to leave as part of the sale (such as light fittings and heating appliances)
  • Some information about the property (such as mortgages and guarantees)

They'll then gather information about the title of the property and any land surrounding it. Following this, the next steps are:

  • Preparing the contract - The information you've provided will be sent with a copy of the contract to the buyer’s solicitor. You and the buyer will each need to sign a copy of the contract
  • Agreeing an exchange date - The exchange of the signed contracts will be agreed between your conveyancer and the buyer’s solicitor. The sale of your property won’t be legally binding until exchange has taken place.
  • The completion date - The sale of the property becomes final when the payment to the conveyancing company has been received in full from the buyer’s solicitor. This is known as the "completion date". If there’s a mortgage, your conveyancer can arrange the repayment when the sale has gone through.

Every house sale is different

What's involved in buying a home?

Buying a property can take around 6-8 weeks, but every purchase is different.

To start the conveyancing process for a purchase, a conveyancing company will need to check your identity and know if you have the funds available for the purchase (you can provide the details of your mortgage lender or show copies of your savings statements).

Your seller’s solicitor will prepare the contract and send it to your conveyancer. Once received it will be checked over. Following this, the next steps are:

  • Running the searches - A number of searches will be made against the property and any enquiries are raised with the seller. Both you and your mortgage lender will receive a full report on the property.
  • Signing the contract - Both you and the seller will need to sign a copy of the contract.
  • Agreeing an exchange date - A date for the exchange of the signed contracts is agreed between your conveyancer and the seller’s solicitor. It won’t be legally binding until exchange has taken place. This is when your deposit is held, usually around 10% of the purchase price.
  • Agreeing the completion date - The purchase of the property becomes final when the seller’s solicitor receives payment in full. This is known as the ‘completion date’ and you’ll then be able to collect the keys to your new home.
  • Following completion, the conveyancing company will deal with Stamp Duty Land Tax and the registering of your property in your name. They'll let you and your lender know once this is done and send your lender any relevant documents for them to hold.

What do I need to think about when buying a leasehold property or apartment? 

When buying a leasehold property (such as a flat or apartment), there are several things that you’ll need to be aware of and be comfortable with before you go ahead. Don’t worry; conveyancing specialists can help you along the way. Things to look out for:

  • Ground rent - How much is it and when does it need to be paid?
  • Service charges – How much are the charges under the lease and when do they need to be paid?
  • The end date of the lease - If the length of the lease is approaching 80 years, an extension is likely to be expensive.
  • Repairs - Does the main building need substantial repairs in the near future, who is responsible, how much will you need to pay and is there a reserve fund?
  • Communal areas - Who manages the communal parts of the building?
  • Insurance - Who's responsible for insuring the building?
  • Disputes - Are there any ongoing disputes about the building?
  • The lease - What are your responsibilities under the lease and are there any restrictions (e.g. no pets, no business use, no hard flooring)?

Is there anything I need to know if I’m buying a holiday home?

Having a holiday home can provide a welcome break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. When looking to buy a sanctuary away from home, there are a few things to consider first. A conveyancing company can help you purchase your home away from home. Things to consider:

  • Are there any restrictions on the use of the property?
  • Are you able to get buildings/contents insurance that covers properties that may be empty for long periods of time?
  • Are you aware of any rates and other costs which affect the property?
  • Is the property secure?
  • If there’s a view, is it protected against future building projects?
  • Is it a home for all seasons?