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Conveyancing Process Explained: The Legal Steps of Buying a Home

If you've set your eyes on your perfect home but are unsure about the legal steps, we have you covered. This guide will take you through the timeline of buying a new property, whether you need a solicitor and what happens between contract exchange and legal completion.

How long does it take to buy a house?

It usually takes between six and 12 weeks to buy a house, but it can take up to six months. The timeline depends on how long it takes to find your perfect home, finalise the mortgage and exchange contracts.

Learn more about the steps and timeline of buying a house in our comprehensive guide.

Do I need to use a solicitor?

Using a solicitor or conveyancer is up to you, though we highly recommend it. They deal with the legal side of the property purchase, from drafting contracts to finalising the process.

You can ask your friends, family, estate agent or mortgage adviser for a recommendation or search online.

What do solicitors do?

Solicitors deal with the legal process to ensure your property purchase runs smoothly. They:

• Draft contracts
• Conduct searches
• Finalise the purchase

1. Draft contracts

The seller's solicitor will draft a contract that your solicitor will review to ensure that the price, deposit amount and title deeds are correct. You'll receive a copy including the Property Information Form (TA6), the Fittings and Fixtures Form (TA10) and previous ownership documents.

2. Conduct searches

The solicitor will conduct searches to check for local plans or issues. The main ones are Land Registry, local authority, environmental and drainage searches, but can also include flood risk, mining searches and chancel repair liability.

3. Finalise the purchase

The contracts are ready when:

• You and your solicitor are happy with the answers to your questions
• The solicitor has dealt with any issues from the survey report
• You have received an official mortgage offer
• You have scheduled the payments for the deposit and completion date

What happens between exchange and legal completion?

Your solicitor will need to sort out a few more things before you can move into your new home. They will conduct final searches and draft a document to transfer your property ownership. They'll also prepare your mortgage funds to finalise the purchase.

You'll need to pay your solicitor fees at this stage.

What is legal completion?

Legal completion means great news – the house is yours! This occurs after the contract exchange and once your home is ready to move into. Contract exchange and legal completion may take place on the same day but are usually a week or two apart.

What happens after legal completion?

After legal completion, your solicitor will wrap up any outstanding payments and paperwork, including:

• Stamp Duty (if applicable)
• Your solicitor will register you with the Land Registry
• Your solicitor will give you the receipt of their payment

If you're new to the world of home buying, our step-by-step guide to buying a home is here to help. Browse our new build developments across the UK and take advantage of our home buying offers – perfect for first-time buyers and existing homeowners.