What to do after your offer is accepted

If you’ve reached a point where an offer has been accepted, it can be a huge relief to see your property journey becoming clearer on the horizon.

But the sales process can be a complicated one and also takes time and a great deal of patience from all concerned.

CJ Hole has prepared a step-by-step guide to the completing a property sale, including a look be-hind the scenes of the solicitors which will help you keep on top of your sale or purchase.

Step one: Buyers, finalise your funding

Buyers should always, where possible, have a mortgage lender’s agreement in principle when they start searching for a new home.

Once you've had an offer accepted on a property, it’s time to finalise that agreement and complete your mortgage application.

The lender will complete a valuation of the property to make sure the loan is covered by its value but having your finances in order early on can be a huge weight off the mind.

Step two: Pick your solicitor

A hugely important decision for both the buyer and the seller is choosing a solicitor to look after the process.

Here it can pay to listen to recommendations from others, including family and friends, but your local CJ Hole branch can also help.

What happens during conveyancing?

This can often be the most frustrating aspect of the sale process for both buyers and sellers.

Patience really is the name of the game here, though, as hassling your solicitor generally will have little effect. Remember, as your conveyancer, they are investing a degree of liability in signing off the sale. It’s a legal process and needs to be done with the utmost care and attention. Rushing them helps nobody.

Buyers and sellers, though, can help keep everything on track by supplying information and documentation quickly throughout the process.

1. Title deeds and office copy entries

Even though it will be clear to the seller that they are the owner of the property being sold, from a legal point of view, further clarification is required.

Both solicitors must be satisfied that ownership is clear and without doubt so they will ask the Land Registry to supply office copy entries or request the title deeds from the seller’s mortgage lender.

2. The contracts

The seller’s side will compile a draft contract for the sale and if the property is owned with a mortgage, they will ask the lender to supply a figure for redemption.

A whole host of documentation, including the draft contract, proof of ownership, fixtures and fittings form and Title Plan, will now be sent to the buyer’s solicitor for approval.

At this stage, the buyer’s solicitor may seek further proof of ownership by inspecting the property register, proprietorship register or charges register.

3. Local authority searches

Searches with the local authority will be undertaken by the buyer’s solicitor on things like planning approval, tree orders and road plans surrounding the property. This can take time as most local authorities experience a backlog of search requests at certain times of the year.

4. Enquiries from the buyer

Sellers can help keep the process ticking along here by supplying crucial information quickly to their solicitor when required.

The buyer’s solicitor will raise a list of enquiries relating to the property, many of which the seller’s solicitor will be able to clarify themselves. But sellers can often be asked to provide more details during this stage and the speed and accuracy of the information they supply can either speed things up or slow things down.

Buyer enquiries often will be based around issues such as boundaries and leases but can also include queries on forms or documentation.

5. Contract approval

With all buyer enquiries answered satisfactorily, both solicitors will approve the draft contract and ask the buyer and seller to sign. At this stage, the solicitors will need to have secured a mortgage redemption statement and have completed all their searches.

6. Set for exchange

Here, the buyer’s solicitor will request the agreed deposit from the buyer and ensure they have the signed contract. If the sale is part of a chain, all other buyers and sellers will need to be in the same position and agreed on a completion date in order to proceed further.

7. Draft transfer and conveyancing

The buyer’s solicitor will draw this up as a document that officially changes ownership of the property to the buyer. However, this is not official until registered with the Land Registry. After any amendments have been made by the seller’s solicitor, they will ask the seller to sign.

Step three: Buyers, have a survey done

CJ Hole always advises buyers to undertake a survey of the property they are buying. The last thing any buyer wants or needs is a nasty surprise when nearing the end of the sales process – it can be massively stressful and extremely costly.

With that in mind, we recommend a Homebuyers Report or full structural survey if you are buying an older property. It really is worth the expense – and remember to get in touch with surveyors early in the process as they can become very busy.

Step four: Research removal companies

Like surveyors, removals firms can get busy very quickly so enquiring about their availability now could pay off when it comes to completion day.

Again, ask family and friends for recommendations, gather some quotes and narrow down your selection to your chosen removals firm once you have an idea of their availability.

Step five: Exchange of contracts

This is a legally binding process and therefore a huge moment in the sale process.

The two solicitors will generally exchange contracts over the phone by agreeing and signing off the contents as identical.

A final mortgage redemption figure will be sought by the seller’s solicitor, while the buyer’s side will check that the purchase funds are available on the date of completion proposed.

Step six: Completion

The big day has arrived! Both sets of solicitors will play vital roles in ensuring the day runs smoothly, particularly in the case of a long chain. The seller’s solicitor will hand over the title deeds and collect a transfer of funds from the buyer’s side.

At this stage, the buyer will be asked to sign the mortgage deed, while the solicitors will perform a host of final checks and prepare a completion statement and bill.

Once the money is received, they will redeem the seller’s mortgage and authorise the keys to be released to the buyer, as well as ensuring all parties, such as estate agents, are paid.

If you have any questions regarding buying your property, speak to your local CJ Hole branch who will be happy to help.