Steps to buying your first home

Natalie Briggs

Written by Natalie Briggs, Conveyancing Executive at Spire Solicitors LLP

You have just had an offer accepted on your first home, what now? Buying a home for the first time should be exciting and if you know the steps and are prepared it should be as stress free as possible.

What are the first steps once I have had my offer accepted?

As soon as your offer is accepted you will be asked to provide details for your conveyancer. This is so the estate agent can send out the memorandum of sale to you, your conveyancer, the seller and the seller’s conveyancer. This will enable the conveyancer acting for the seller to prepare a legal information pack which will include:

  • A draft contract
  • A fixtures, fittings and contents form
  • A property information form
  • The legal title to the property

What paperwork will I need to provide to my conveyancer?

You will need to provide ID and proof of address, usually a utility bill or bank statement dated within the last three months. You will also need to provide evidence to demonstrate source of funds.

What is the conveyancing process?  

After your solicitor has received the legal information pack, they will raise pre-contract enquiries, obtain a copy of the mortgage offer and carry out the necessary searches. There are several different types of searches which include:

  • Local search- This will look at all information held by the local authority involving the property.
  • Water and drainage search- This will confirm whether the foul and surface water drain to a public sewer and whether the property is connected to a mains water supply.
  • Environmental search- This will show whether the property is built on or near contaminated land, and whether there is a risk of flooding or subsidence.

During this time, you should make any enquiries of your own, such as instructing a surveyor or arranging any specialist reports such as electrical or damp reports, as conveyancers do not advise on the physical condition of the property.

What is exchange or contracts and completion?

Exchange of contracts is when your property purchase becomes legally binding. Your conveyancer will only be able to exchange contracts once the vast majority of the legal work has been completed and all finances are in place. Once exchange of contracts has taken place, you will be legally committed to the purchase and your deposit will be transferred to the seller’s conveyancer. Completion is the final step in the process and is the day you will finally get the keys. The date will have been agreed prior to exchange of contracts. On this day, your conveyancer will send the remaining balance to the seller’s conveyancer, and undertake other post-completion formalities, such as submitting the Stamp Duty Land Tax return.

To make the process go smoothly it is advisable to:

  • Ensure your mortgage and finances are in place before you find a property.
  • Fill in and return any forms promptly to avoid delays.
  • Use a reputable conveyancer who will take the time to guide you through the process.

If you would like to discuss any points in this article further, please contact Spire Solicitors LLP on 01603 677077 for all your legal needs.