Conveyancing Explained: For the First Time Buyer

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Congratulations if you have found a property that you wish to purchase and have had your offer accepted. The first step is to instruct a Solicitor, but what happens after that…

First Stages

Once Solicitors are instructed, the Estate Agents will usually send a Memorandum of Sale to all parties in the transaction which sets out the details of the Seller and the Buyer, as well as the Solicitors who represent them.

Here at Bennett Griffin, upon receipt of the Memorandum of Sale, we then open our file and write to you with our initial pack. This sets out our terms and conditions, charges, and includes a questionnaire for you to complete and return together with your proof of ID and proof of source of funds.

At this stage we will also write to your Seller’s Solicitors to confirm we are instructed and to request a copy of the draft Contract and supporting paperwork.

Legal Work

Once we receive back from you your completed questionnaire, signed Terms and Conditions Letter, payment on account, and your ID documents, we can begin to work on your file…

Upon receipt from the Seller’s Solicitors, we will examine the draft contract and all supporting documents and raise enquiries on your behalf.  We will also order the necessary searches.  These searches investigate potential issues about the property that Estate Agents or Surveyors will not be able to identify, for example, relating to planning history, water and drainage, chancel repair liability, and environmental issues.

As we begin to collate information about the property from the search results, and from the Seller’s Solicitors’ replies to our enquiries, we start to prepare our Property Report (which is our report to you setting out everything that we have found out about the property).

Your Mortgage (if applicable)

Whilst we are progressing the legal work on your behalf, you will need to get your mortgage offer in place.

Once you have found an appropriate Lender, they will arrange for a mortgage valuation to be carried out so they know that the property provides sufficient security for the loan and once the Lender is satisfied, they will then proceed to issue a Mortgage Offer to both you and to us.

Upon receipt, we will then report to you on the Mortgage Offer and its conditions and will send you a Mortgage Deed to sign. You will be required at this point to start sourcing a suitable buildings insurance policy for the property in order to comply with the conditions of the Mortgage Offer.

Signing the Contract

As soon as all of our enquiries have been answered by the Seller’s Solicitors we will be able to send you our Property Report, together with the search results and documents provided from the Seller’s Solicitors. The Property Report goes into quite a bit of detail and it is very important to read through it carefully.

We will also send you the Contract (the agreement between you and the Seller), as well as a “Transfer Deed” (this document is used by the Land Registry to transfer ownership from the Seller to the Buyer), and a Stamp Duty Land Tax Return. Once you have read through the Property Report, provided you are happy to proceed, you will then be able to sign the Contract and return it to us.

We will also need you to return your signed Transfer Deed, Stamp Duty Land Tax Return (“SDLT Return”), and very importantly – the deposit money.

Exchange of Contracts

Once we have received from you the signed Contract, Transfer Deed, SDLT Return, and the deposit money, we will be ready to exchange contracts.

One you and the Seller have agreed on a fixed date for completion and an identical copy of the Contract has been signed by both parties, we will contact the Seller’s Solicitors to exchange contracts for you. This is done over the phone by both Solicitors reading out the contents of the Contracts to make sure they are identical, and then immediately send them to one another in the post.

Once you have exchanged contracts you will have entered into a legally binding contract to buy the property on the, now fixed, completion date.

Between Exchange and Completion (Pre-Completion)

You and the Seller can now arrange for removal companies to be booked. You will also now need to take out the buildings insurance as it essential this is taken out from the date of exchange of contracts, not from the date of completion.

We will proceed to contact your Lender and arrange to draw down the mortgage advance in time for completion, usually for the working day prior to completion.

In good time for completion, we will send you a Financial Statement setting out the final balance due from you to complete. We will require this to be transferred to us by CHAPS transfer, usually for the working day prior to the completion date.

The Completion Day

On the day of completion we will transfer to the Seller’s Solicitors the sum required to complete the purchase of the property.

As soon as the Seller’s Solicitors receive the funds they will contact the Estate Agents to release the keys and then call us to confirm completion has taken place.

We will then call you to confirm completion and confirm you should be able to collect the keys from the Estate Agents.

After Completion (Post-Completion)

We will now need to pay the Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf and, usually, this is done immediately after completion has been confirmed.

The Seller’s Solicitors will then send us various legal documents and, if there are any, the Title Deeds. Upon receipt, we will then send the necessary documents to H M Land Registry to register the transfer of the property into your name.

H M Land Registry will then complete the registration and send us a copy of the updated Land Registry Title. We then send copies to your Lender and also to you, together with any Title Deeds (although we can store the Title Deeds for you if you wish).

Once we have done this, we can then close and store your file. We can also arrange for our Private Client Department to contact you as it may be suitable for you to now think about preparing a Will.


So what makes us different – The Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS)

We are proud to have achieved the standards of practice and integrity required to be accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme.

This scheme’s logo is your guarantee that our practice will provide you with a professional and quality conveyancing service.


What you can expect from us:

  • when you contact us to discuss your purchase we will explain clearly the steps in the process and what you can expect from your solicitor
  • we will tell you what the costs will be
  • we will keep you informed of progress in your purchase
  • we will work in line with the quality standards of the Law Society’s CQS.

We will: 

  • treat you fairly
  • be polite and professional
  • respond promptly to your enquiries
  • tell you about any problems as soon as we are aware of them
  • ask for your feedback on our service

For more information please see our Residential Property Service page or contact our Property team via 01903 229999


The information contained in this article is for general guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice. Professional advice should always be taken on the application of the law in any particular situation.