Step 1 – Finding a property and agreeing on a purchase price
So, you have reviewed your circumstances and know what you can afford, and you have found the perfect property. Once you have negotiated and agreed on the purchase price the estate agent/developer will issue all parties with a memorandum of sale which will include all the necessary information for you and the vendor. This is not a binding contract but confirms the agreed purchase price at this point.
Step 2 – Mortgage application and instructing solicitors
The next stage is to confirm that you have found a house and had your offer agreed to your mortgage broker/advisor. They will then provide the necessary recommendations as well as gather all the necessary information and evidence required to submit your mortgage application.
At this point, you will also need to instruct a solicitor to open a file and start the preliminary checks to be able to act for you in your purchase.
Step 3 – Gaining agreement for the mortgage.
The mortgage application has been submitted and underwritten, all obstacles have been cleared and all additional queries have been satisfied for the lender to produce a mortgage offer.
Step 4 – Solicitor searches and making enquiries
Once the mortgage has been agreed and offered, your solicitor will start in earnest the rest of the work that they will have to do to ensure that the property you are buying is exactly what you are expecting. They may have completed some work, but without a mortgage offer, some solicitors will not want to do too much work as this will come at a cost if the mortgage isn’t offered and the purchase can’t complete.
The solicitors will carry out all appropriate searches (ensuring the property is registered property, boundaries are accurate, no disputes currently in place etc…) and also liaise with the acting solicitor on the vendor’s side to have any ‘enquiries’ (queries) satisfied prior to confirm they are happy for you to proceed with the purchase.
Step 5 – Managing the chain
If the property purchase is part of a ‘chain’ i.e. other purchases and sales that run from the bottom of the ladder to the top of the ladder then your solicitor will need to liaise with the other solicitors within the chain to arrange an appropriate exchange date – when all contracts are signed and deposits are sent up the chain.
Step 6 – Exchanging contracts
Once the chain has been agreed and everyone is ready, the solicitors will agree on an ‘exchange’ date. This is the moment that you sign the formal paperwork to say that you will, in law, buy the property. It is also the time that you will provide the deposit funds to be sent to the vendors, this will usually be an agreed percentage of the purchase price. At the point that contracts are signed and the deposit money is sent you are legally obliged to complete on the purchase. If you decide to not go ahead with the purchase at this point then you effectively forfeit the deposit money that you have put down.
Step 7 – Completion
Once the contracts have been signed at the exchange the solicitors will agree to a completion date. At this point, they send the Certificate of Title to the lender providing your mortgage as proof that everything is now in place to complete. The lender sends the mortgage funds to your solicitor and your solicitor will send these funds to the vendor’s solicitor to complete the purchase!