What Happens After You Exchange Contracts on a Property? A Guide for the Seller and the Buyer

Buying or selling a house can be overwhelming! Sometimes certain terms are used which aren’t clear to the everyday person.  

At GoodLaw Solicitors we have produced two resources to help you understand what the exchange of contracts means and what happens after. One will look at the exchange from the perspective of the buyer and the other from the perspective of the seller.  

Download the guides for what happens after the exchange of contracts below.

after exchange of contracts property

Read our guide on the conveyancing process with a handy flowchart.

What is the exchange of contracts?

The exchange of contracts is what happens after an offer on a property is accepted and all relevant checks are conducted. 

Contracts are drawn up by the respective parties indicating the intention to purchase the property. Both parties then sign the contracts, at which point both are legally bound to buy or sell the property. 

Following the exchange the timeline of events depends on the circumstances of both parties. If either party is in a property chain (ie. they need to buy a house before selling) it could take a long time before the moving date. 

What happens after you exchange contracts?

Once you have exchanged contracts you can start working towards a completion date. This is where you own the property and can move in.

The completion date will be discussed and set on a reasonable timescale for both parties. However, this date is an agreement not a legal requirement.

The time between exchange and completion can be within 5 working days, or up to 5 months. It depends on the situation of both parties.

As a buyer

After you exchange contracts as a buyer it is time to ensure all your funds are in place for the completion of your house.

Your solicitor will speak to your mortgage lender and your bank about your deposit. They need to know the anticipated completion date so they are ready to transfer the funds.

A completion statement will be sent from the solicitor to the buyer. This will be the payment for the legal services provided. It is recommended that it is paid the day before the completion date to avoid any delay.

The day of completion 

On the completion date, your solicitor will set up the purchase funds to be sent to your seller’s solicitors. We ensure that this happens first thing on the morning of completion as the contractual time of completion is between 1-2pm. At which point you can move into your new home!

After completion, your solicitor will still have a few things to do including:

  • Pay Stamp Duty (if applicable)
  • Submit your Stamp Duty Land Tax Form to HMRC
  • Apply to register your ownership of the property with Land Registry 

As a seller

After you exchange contracts as a seller you need to ensure that your mortgage lender is aware you are settling your mortgage. 

Then, once you have a completion date you should prepare your house for your move. 

Preparing your home

The most important aspect is cancelling your direct debits on the date of completion. Make a list of all your direct debits. The largest one is likely to be your mortgage. 

For your energy bills, take a meter reading on the day of completion so you are paying an accurate final bill. 

Direct debits might include:

  • Mortgage
  • Gas and electric
  • Council tax
  • House insurance
  • Life insurance
  • Water
  • Internet
  • Subscriptions

Other considerations are to change your vehicle registration address and redirect your post via Royal Mail.

Remember that your home needs to be sold in the same condition it was on the day of the exchange of contracts. So, if an item on the Fixtures and Fittings form breaks between exchange and completion it will need to be replaced. 

Similarly, anything not on the Fixtures and Fittings form needs to be removed from the property.

The day of completion

As the seller, you simply need to wait for the funds to enter into your account. 

Your solicitor will inform you when the completion happens, which would usually be around 1-2pm on the agreed date. They will then notify the estate agent to release the keys to the buyer.

If there is a chain the time may be later as funds move through the chain.

Conveyancing in Sussex and Surrey

If you require further information or conveyancers in Sussex or Surrey then GoodLaw Solicitors can help. 

Our Property Team have outstanding reviews from the local area, with our exceptional customer service going above and beyond client expectations. 

We pride ourselves on removing any confusion and explaining the conveyancing process in clear terms.

So, if you are buying or selling a property in Brighton, Hove, Hassocks or Farnham contact GoodLaw. Reach our property team at the respective branches or call 01273 956 270.

By Published On: June 16th, 2023Categories: Resources

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