When moving home, there seems to be an endless list of things ‘to do’ and a long chain of other people to rely on in order for your house move to go smoothly.
Conveyancing is just one link in the chain, albeit, probably the most crucial to ensure the process keeps moving. For buyer and seller, it is hard to resist the urge to pick up the phone and ask all the burning questions such as ‘How long until completion?’, ‘How long until I can move in?’, as living with the parents or the in-laws is not always practical!
As a way of helping, we have put four of the most frequently asked questions from our customers.
The one thing that you can be sure of is our team will keep you informed every step of the way.
1: How long does a sale and purchase usually take?
It takes around 8-12 weeks to move to a new home from Exchange of Contracts, if it is a new build home, this will obviously take longer.
With every home move, there can be a number of unforeseen circumstances along the way. For example, when you are part of a long chain of buyers and sellers, there are multiple parties helping people move and things can seem daunting and feel like you will never move in!
If the house you are buying is a new build, we aim to exchange contracts within 28 days, which is a requirement that many housebuilders insist on. For new builds, it is likely that when exchange, your house is not yet built, so Completion of Contracts will depend on when it is suitable for occupation.
If you are part of a chain of buyers, we will be working with a number of parties on your behalf. These include but are not limited to estate agent, mortgage broker, bank and the seller’s solicitors – all have their own agenda for their clients, but rest assured we will work hard on your behalf and keep you informed every step of the way.
2: What is an ‘Exchange of Contracts?’
This is probably the most frequently heard phrase throughout the conveyancing process. You imagine two people swapping over documents, shaking hands, and walking away. Deal done? In reality, it’s not that simple.
Exchange of contracts is the point at which both the buyer and seller are legally committed to the transaction. Once the contracts terms have been agreed and both buyer and seller are ready to proceed, their conveyancers will apply the agreed completion date into the contract. The seller’s signed contract is physically “exchanged” for the buyer’s signed contract, so that each conveyancer will hold the part signed by the other client.
In England and Wales, potential buyers can still exit the deal at this stage. Unfortunately, this can happen, leaving customers out of pocket of their house move fees, sometimes thousands. We will always advise you on the risks from the outset.
3: Why is there often a time delay between Exchange of Contracts and Completion?
Legality and practicality are two separate entities, which often do not like to work together. In an ideal world, they should be able to take place at the same time however there are a number of factors that do not allow this to happen. A completion date cannot be fixed until contracts are exchanged, making it difficult for those moving to plan for their new home.
4: How long is my mortgage offer available for?
Once you have received your mortgage offer it will last for a fixed time period. However, this can vary between providers but in most cases is around three to six months. Some lenders will count the days from when you first applied for your mortgage, but others will count from when you received your offer so make sure you check this.
For new build properties, you can often get a mortgage offer extension between three and six months. Banks and building societies can also offer extensions if you are affected by events outside of your control – it is worth exploring these options if they apply to you.