I have had an offer on a home accepted - what happens next?

Having an offer accepted on a property may feel like a relief, but there is still a mountain to climb. Our step-by-step guide sets out what you need to do once your offer is accepted.

Agent sold stc sign

See also: 67 money saving tips for buying, selling and moving home

1. Push for the property to be taken off the market

At this stage the vendor can still accept offers from other buyers, as nothing is legally binding until you exchange contracts 2 – 3 months later (on average).,

It is the seller’s decision whether or not to stop marketing the property, but you should make this a conditional part of your offer.

Most seller’s will agree to this if, assuming you are selling, you have found a buyer for your property. If you have not found a buyer, many sellers will want to consider actively marketing.

If the seller agrees, make sure that a ‘Sold STC’ sticker is added to the for-sale sign and the agents window and online portals are also updated.

2. Instruct a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor.

You will need a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work for your sale.

Once your offer is accepted, the first thing the agent will do is ask you for your solicitors’ details. If you do not have yet have one, the agent will probably recommend one.

It is important to act quickly – not having a solicitor will make the seller question your commitment. Nevertheless, you should think twice before accepting the agent’s recommendation.

Shop around, get a recommendation from family or friends, read reviews.

The right solicitor can be the difference between a smooth and successful purchase and an expensive stressful process that ends in the purchase falling through.

See also:

Solicitor vs licensed conveyancer - what's difference?

Should I use the estate agent's recommended solicitor

Tips for Choosing the Best Conveyancer or Solicitor

3. Choose the best mortgage product

At this stage you really should have decided on a lender and mortgage product. Anything less than this will slow the process and demonstrate a lack of commitment to the seller.

Ideally you will have mortgage in principle from the lender. as this will demonstrate to the seller that you are serious about proceeding quickly.

If you have not yet arranged your finances, you need to move quickly.

Sure, you can compare mortgages on an online comparison site. It might make more sense at this stage to speak to a mortgage broker who may be able to help fast track your mortgage application. Either way, let then seller know ow what you are doing. Proactive communication can buy a lot of good will.

Every lender will have its own process for handling mortgage applications. They are all fairly rigorous these days however and they will need quite a lot of information from you. Be ready to provide:

  • Up to date bank statements
  • Proof of ID
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of earnings (P60), proof of bonuses/commission etc
  • Last 3 years accounts or tax returns if self employed
  • Proof of employment status
  • Consent to check your credit history
  • Details of existing debt
  • Details of your outgoings
  • Details of your deposit and where it is coming from
  • Your status on the electoral roll.
  • Your partners details and credit history – even if they are not buying with you.
  • A gift letter if the deposit is a gift from a family member

Arrange the property survey

A survey is not obligatory and around 50% of buyer's do not have one.

However, it is strongly advised that you d. Surveys cost around £500 and can prevent you buying a property with serious defects. A survey will also serve as a negotiating tool if the property needs work as you can use it to re-negotiate.

Your mortgage lender will carry out a mortgage valuation to ensure your new home is worth what you are paying, but this is not the same a property survey. The mortgage valuation is to confirm that the property is sufficient collateral for the loan. It is carried out for the benefit of the lender.

You should not rely on the valuation survey as an indication of the property’s suitability or structural integrity.

For this you will need a to instruct qualified surveyor to assess the condition of the property and let you know whether there are any major structural issues with it before you exchange contracts.

If the survey uncovers any issues, you may want to renegotiate the price or even decide to pull out of the sale altogether.

See also: What should I do following a bad home survey report?

Should I use the mortgage lender’s surveyor?

Tempting – it will usually be a bit cheaper as the valuation surveyor can carry out a HomeBuyer Report or Building survey at the same time. However, there is arguably a conflict of interests and it is recommended that you instruct an independent surveyor who is acting for you and you alone.

5. Time to exchange contracts

Once the solicitor has carried out then necessary due diligence into the property and carried out the necessary searches, they will report back to you.

Assuming that you and anyone else in the property chain, are happy to go ahead, and you have the formal mortgage offer in place, you the next step is to exchange contracts.

Exchanging contracts means you will be legally obliged to buy the property, and the vendor is legally obliged to sell it to you.

Exchanging contracts will also mean transferring the deposit to your solicitor (usually 10% of the value of the property), which you would lose would you pull out.

You can now agree a completion date, on which the seller has to move out of the house; this will allow you to organise dates with the removal company if you are using one. The period between exchange and completion is generally between 5-20 working days.

6. Arrange your building insurance

As the buyer, you are responsible for the buildings insurance on the property between exchange and completion.

See also: Why buyers need buildings insurance at exchange of contracts

7. Completion.

On completion day:

  • The transfer deed will be signed by the seller, transferring ownership to you (you may need to sign this too).
  • Your solicitor will transfer the full funds to the seller and receive the title deeds.
  • Your solicitor will file a stamp duty form with HMRC and arrange for the stamp duty to be paid.
  • Your solicitor will also change the ownership information with the Land Registry from the vendor to you.
  • Once the property has been vacated, the seller’s solicitor will let the estate agent know to release the keys to you.

The completion deadline is usually 3.30 pm, as large payments are transferred via CHAPS, and this is the time at which the banking system for this closes.

See also: Is Friday always the best day to move?

Once you have the keys, you are ready to move in.

• Make sure you arrange this – if the house burns down in this period you could lose everything.

Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher

About the author

Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.

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