Exchange & completion – making it legal & getting your keys

The legal process to buy and sell a house can be a daunting task with confusing legal jargon thrown in for good measure.

What is “exchange of contract”?

This is the point when you are legally committed. This is usually done over the telephone by the solicitors once everything is signed and ready and everyone has provisionally agreed a moving date. You should not make any firm removal arrangements or make any other commitments until contracts are “exchanged”.

What is the “completion date”?

The completion date is the moving date when a buyer can collects the keys and the seller has to moveout. The completion date will not be definite until contracts have been exchanged.

How long will it take to get to exchange?

An average timescale tends to be a few weeks but it can vary depending on particular circumstances.

What needs to be done to get to exchange?

As a seller, you need to provide certain information to your solicitor and they will need to send contract papers to the buyer’s solicitor.

As a buyer, you will need to sort financial arrangements and any survey. Specific searches and other checks need to made on the property which your solicitor should discuss with you before you proceed to exchange of contracts.

Thinking about moving but not yet underway – what can be done now?

Even if you are not yet on the market or have not found a property to buy, it is worth making early enquiries with a solicitor to check likely costs and discuss your particular circumstances in more detail. Your solicitor can help you with the forms for the legal process so it is often worth having the paperwork sorted in advance to help minimise any delay.

by Dawn Patterson Associate Solicitor at Glanvilles and PPA committee member.Tel. 023 9249 2300 email. [email protected] (December 2010)