Exchanging and completing when buying a property


Exchanging contracts
Exchanging contracts can be so exciting – it is that point when the property becomes yours! Unfortunately it can also be very stressful. So we have some tips and advice to help you.

Until this point, either yourself or the seller can pull out of the house sale without incurring any penalties. Only once the identical contracts between buyers and sellers is signed and formally exchanged by the solicitors, is the sale legally binding. Either side can still pull out after contracts have exchanged, however, there will usually be large penalties to do so.

Contracts typically exchange between 5 and 28 days before completion (however, on some occasions, especially where cash buyers are involved, exchange and completion can sometimes occur on the same day). Everything needs to be in place at the time of exchanging contracts, therefore the following should be completed:

  • Offer, including fixtures and fittings, has been agreed;
  • All mortgage valuations and chosen surveys completed;
  • Formal offer received in writing;
  • Funds for mortgage deposit confirmed;
  • All relevant searches completed by your solicitors;
  • Buildings insurance purchased as you are now liable for the property;
  • Funding for the contract deposit is now sorted;
  • Date of completion agreed between the buyer and seller. This will need to be confirmed in writing and written into the contract.

Please make sure you read the contract carefully and fully understand it before you sign.

Once this checklist is completed, you are ready to agree on a date and time to exchange contracts. This is usually handled by your solicitor.


Final steps to completion
You have gone through a lot to get to this point. Just a few more big steps and you are done – you will be ready to take possession and move in.

Here is the checklist you need before completion:

  • Visit the property again before you complete to make sure all is in place – including your fixtures and fittings;
  • A copy of the title deeds will need to go to your mortgage lender;
  • If your property is a leasehold, you will need to inform the freeholder that you will be completing on the property;
  • Notify the utility companies that you are now the owner of the property;
  • Inform your banks, credit card, place of work, mobile phone company and the DVLA of your new address;
  • Set up your a post-redirection;
  • Arrange a time with the estate agency to pick up your new keys;
  • Use our handy Moving Checklist.