LEEDS OFFICE 
Trading as Avery Walters Ellis Solicitors 
 
HARROGATE OFFICE 
Trading as Powell Eddison Solicitors 
 

Procedure 

There are five main stages of conveyancing for a buyer: 
 
01. Pre-contractual stage 
02. Exchange of contracts 
03. Between exchange and completion 
04. Completion 
05. After completion 
 
Buying a home typically takes around two to three months. 
 

01.  Pre-contractual stage 

Once you’ve made an offer, legal documents are prepared to transfer ownership from the seller to you. The seller draws up a contract – we will then negotiate its terms for you. The contract details include: 
 
the selling price 
the property’s boundaries 
what fixtures and fittings, like carpets, are included 
legal restrictions or rights on the property 
planning restrictions 
a description of the services to the property, for example drainage and gas 
the date for completing the purchase (called ‘completion’) 
 
Before you sign and exchange the contract, we will find out as much as possible about the property. The seller doesn’t have to voluntarily tell you about problems with the property or neighbourhood. The seller should, however, reply truthfully to enquiries. We will then carry out a number of searches and checks including: 
 
checking the ‘title’ – the legal document that proves the seller’s ownership 
asking the local authority about planned works, like roadworks or new developments, that might affect the property 
enquiries to the seller’s solicitor or licensed conveyancer about the contract details 
 
There may be other searches depending on the type of property. For example, if your property is in an area where there have been mines, we will need to do a mining check. You are usually responsible for insuring the property as soon as contracts are exchanged. You should get a property survey before the exchange of contracts, to uncover any problems with the building. 
 
If you’re using a mortgage, you’ll need a formal mortgage offer from your lender before you sign the contract. The lender will send documents for you or your solicitor or conveyancer to sign. 

02.  Exchange of contracts 

When the buyer and seller are happy with the contract, they sign final copies and send them to each other. This is called the exchange of contracts. Once contracts are exchanged, the agreement to sell and buy is legally binding and usually neither party can pull out without paying compensation. Buyers usually pay the seller a deposit (normally ten per cent of the purchase price) at the exchange of contracts stage. 

03.  Between exchange and completion 

There are often a few further checks to be done at this stage. We will deal with these for you and will: 
 
prepare the legal documents to transfer ownership 
check mortgage documents 
make sure they have all the necessary funds, including their own fees 
arrange for the transfer of funds to the seller 
do final Land Registry checks 
check all agreed tasks set out in the contract have been done 
check that fixtures and fittings have been left as agreed 

04.  Completion 

Once all matters between exchange and completion are dealt with, the money for the property is transferred from buyer to seller. The sale is now completed and the keys are handed over. The property now belongs to the buyer. 
 
At this stage, you will: 
 
receive the keys on the agreed date 
pay the seller the remainder of the property cost via us 
receive the legal documents that prove ownership 

05.  After completion 

At this stage, we will need to: 
 
register the change of ownership with Land Registry 
pay Stamp Duty Land Tax (Stamp Duty) 
 
You’ll also need to tell your insurers that completion has taken place. 
Jackie Smyth 
Head of Residential Conveyancing 
 
Phone: 0113 200 7480 
 
Email: js@averywalters.com 
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