Exchange, Completion and Ownership

Exchange contracts

When you are in a position when the paperwork has been done, your mortgage offer has been received and your solicitor has received everything – it’s time to exchange contracts with the seller. Before you exchange contracts, you need to agree a completion date with the seller, about four weeks after the exchange. The first thing you’ll need to do is get your deposit money to your solicitor. Spend the couple of weeks before you are due to pay this getting your money into one bank account, this makes the transaction easier to send over. When received, your solicitor will get you to sign the contract, this is where you have committed to buying the house and the sale is legally binding – you are liable at this stage and can lose your deposit if the purchase falls through as a result of you pulling out.

Make final agreements

You need to make arrangements for the supply of electricity, gas, water and telephone service, and make sure that the seller has got readings made for when they leave the property. At first it is probably easier to change the account name for the existing suppliers to the property, rather than change suppliers, which you can do at a later date.

Complete your purchase

Completion is when you pay for the property and take ownership of it. On your completion day, money is transferred and the deeds of the property are transferred, between each side’s conveyancer. Your solicitor will give you a completion statement with a clear breakdown of the money you need to give the solicitor. This will include any outstanding deposit, stamp duty land tax, solicitors’ fees etc. You’ll usually have to pay these on or before your completion date.

Following completion, you will have 30 days to send the Stamp Office your transfer deed along with your Stamp Duty payment. This is in your completion statement though so is normally just paid on your completion day also. 

Own your new home

Your solicitor will register your details with the Land Registry. Your solicitor will get the new title deeds from the Land Registry and forward them to your mortgage lender (or you if you’re mortgage-free). You now officially own your new home – relax and unpack slowly, decorate and put your stamp on the property and settle down for the next few years.

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