After your heart rate has returned to normal on hearing that your offer has been accepted on the home you want, the next job is to instruct a conveyancer to deal with the purchase if you havn’t already done so.

This could be a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.  Either way, they should be regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers respectively.

Once you have settled on a choice, what will they do for their fee? We broke this down into 10 easy steps.

Step 1: Open the purchase file

The very first job for a conveyancer is to open the purchase file and send a letter out to you setting down its terms of business.  They will also send to you an information form which asks for basic details such as your contact details, date of birth and national insurance number.

Step 2: Request fee for searches

Local Authority searches, which uncover potential issues such as public rights of way, compulsory purchase orders and enforcement notices for the property, can take weeks to process. So, it’s best to hand the money for this to your solicitor now and get the ball rolling.

Step 3: Get the details from the estate agent

Next, your solicitor will ask the estate agents marketing the home for a notification of sale (also known as a memorandum of sale) which contains the solicitor details for each party in the chain.

Step 4: Receive all the paperwork from the seller’s solicitor

As soon as the seller’s solicitor has drawn up the draft contract, they will send it, together with a copy of the Title (or ‘Deeds’) for the property, to your solicitor together with the Property Information forms completed by the Seller and the all important fixtures and fittings list.

Step 5: Raise queries and carry out checks (and more checks)

Your solicitor will now go through the paperwork – and every search as it comes back – with a fine-toothed comb. They’ll need to raise any questions and queries they have with the seller’s solicitor.

Getting to the bottom of issues arising can delay the process but it is imperative it is done correctly. This is because solicitors follow a code of conduct and must comply with the mortgage lender's requirements. 

Step 6: Send contract for you to sign

When every ‘i has been dotted and t crossed’, your solicitor will send you the contract to sign and return and request your deposit of 10% of the purchase price (unless you are taking a 95% mortgage, in which case only 5% is due)..

Step 7: Line up all the parties along the chain for exchange and completion  

Your solicitor will now discuss with you a convenient date for you to move into your new home (known as completion). That date will then need to be agreed with the seller’s solicitor and those parties further along the chain.

Step 8: Exchange

The sellers at the top of the chain will need to be the first to have their contract released and ready for exchange.

Once the process starts, exchange will cascade down the chain and will be concluded within the timeframe set. Once the process has been completed, the completion date cannot then be changed.

Step 9: Complete

Your solicitor will then send you the final completion statement.  Any outstanding balance due to complete is now payable and the solicitor will also request any mortgage money to come from your lender.

Step 10: Register change of ownership

Your solicitor’s job is not over quite yet. The change of ownership will need to be logged with the Land Registry.

Following completion, the seller’s solicitors will send the signed Deed – which now shows the transfer of property from the seller’s name to yours – to your solicitor. They will then submit it, together with the Mortgage Deed, to the Land Registry for registration.