12 May The first time buyer’s conveyancing timeline
Buying your first home can be a strange experience. There is a flurry of activity at the beginning of the process, and at the end. But the middle can be somewhat of a mystery to those not in the know.
This guide offers a timeline to purchasing your first home, from your offer being accepted to collecting your keys. It can be unnerving during the process when you don’t hear much from your conveyancer, but this guide is here to reassure you that great things are happening in the background.
Stage 1: Offer acceptance
Be prepared for some major activity as soon as your offer is accepted. You need to get the ball rolling on your purchase immediately. This means officially appointing your conveyancing solicitor, making a full mortgage application, paying your mortgage and survey fees and making a payment on account for searches.
Stage 2: Conveyancers communicate
This is the stage where your conveyancing solicitor makes contact with your vendor’s solicitor. It happens around 5 days to a week after offer acceptance. Your solicitor receives the contract pack, checks the vendor’s title and arranges for the searches to commence. Any enquiries will be raised at this point, and the answers and questions can go back and forth for a few weeks, or even months, before everything is ironed out.
Stage 3: Paperwork
By this stage, you will be concerned that you aren’t hearing much from your solicitor. This is the busiest period in the purchase, however, and all of the things that need to happen before the property becomes yours is happening now. There isn’t anything to tell you at this stage.
Your solicitor should now have your mortgage offer and should have returned the contract to the vendor’s solicitor. All enquiries and search results should be back and your solicitor will compile the reports in a file. You should have received the survey results and be happy to proceed.
Stage 4: Pre-exchange
Your conveyancing solicitor will meet with you to go through the file prior to exchange. They will also ask for your deposit so this can be transferred to the vendor’s solicitor on contract exchange day. This is the stage where you can query anything your solicitor has discovered and is the last chance you have to pull out of the purchase without penalty.
If everything is in order and you are happy to proceed, your solicitor will arrange a date with the vendor’s solicitor to exchange contracts. This can be a month or two before completion, but is usually just a week or even less. You will be asked to agree a completion date before exchange and sign the contract in preparation.
Stage 5: Exchange of contracts
On this day, your conveyancing solicitor sends your contract and deposit to the vendor’s solicitor with an agreed completion date. They will prepare a completion statement and advise your mortgage lender of the exchange and completion date.
You will get a phone call advising you that the deal is done and this is where the flurry of activity begins again. You usually have just a week to organise removals, arrange buildings insurance, sign all the final paperwork and pack. You may also want to set up mail redirection and make plans for vacating your old home.
Stage 6: Completion day
As a first time buyer, you don’t have the added worry of completing on your sale before your purchase can go through. It can still be a nerve-wracking time awaiting that call to say you can pick up the keys, though.
At your conveyancing solicitor’s side, they have probably drawn down on your mortgage the day before to reduce the chances of money being stuck in the system. Friday is the most popular completion day and things can get pretty slow in the bank CHAPS system. If your solicitor has your mortgage funds, they will transfer them telegraphically to your vendor’s solicitor. Once they confirm receipt, you will receive a phone call from your solicitor to advise you that completion has taken place. Shortly after that you should get a call from the estate agents, who can officially release the keys to you so you can move in to your new home.