Advice for a first time buyer

Buying your first home is a daunting process. There is a lot to organise and co-ordinate. It is important to appoint a solicitor that is highly experienced and who comes recommended by their previous clients. Although some estate agents may recommend a solicitor, their recommendation may not always be the most suitable and can often be influenced by payment of a referral fee – it is always worth checking whether their chosen solicitor is truly independent.

Although the conveyancing process is very similar for each transaction, each transaction is itself unique. The solicitor’s role is to investigate the legal title to the property, carry out the usual conveyancing searches and to advise you on the results of their investigation and searches.

You should ensure your mortgage application is submitted early in the process and that you arrange for a survey to be carried out on the property. A survey will ensure you are fully aware of any defects or potential issues with the property prior to committing to the purchase.

Your solicitor will be sent their own copy of your mortgage offer and they will arrange for the mortgage funds to be sent to them in time for completion. Your solicitor will act on your behalf and on behalf of your lender. The lender will provide the solicitor with their own set of instructions and requirements to comply with.

On average a house purchase takes between 2-3 months to reach completion. However, the length of transactions varies considerably and is dependent on the individual circumstances of the people involved in the chain.

The main steps of the conveyancing process are as follows:

Initial Instructions

Once your offer to purchase a property has been accepted you will need to instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf. The solicitor will open a file and send you their initial letters and terms and conditions. You will be asked to provide proof of identification and proof of funding as part of the initial onboarding.

Enquiries and Searches

Once the contract pack has been received from the seller’s solicitor, your solicitor will review the documentation provided and will send the seller’s solicitor any questions or enquiries they have as a result. The usual conveyancing searches will be requested, and the results reviewed on receipt. Your solicitor may send you an initial report on the documentation received and a report on each search as the results are received.

Mortgage Offer

On receipt of your mortgage offer your solicitor should report to you on the terms of the offer. The solicitor should also check whether there are any conditions to comply with and that they have complied with the lender’s general requirements.

Signing of Contracts

Once all search results have been received and all enquiries have been satisfactorily answered you solicitor should send you a final report. Enclosed with this report will be the contract for signing and you will need to provide the deposit funds for exchange.


Exchange is the point at which all parties become legal bound to buy and sell the property. Your deposit is paid to the seller and a completion date is agreed. Following exchange, a completion statement will be sent to you setting out any balance required from you for completion


Completion is the date on which the balance of the purchase price is paid to the seller and ownership of the property transferred to you. The seller must vacate the property and hand over the keys to your new home. Time to pop the champagne!


Following completion, your solicitor will submit any stamp duty land tax return required and apply for the transfer of the property to be registered at the Land Registry. Registration can take a number of months to be processed by the Land Registry, but once completed, your solicitor will forward a copy of the register to you confirming your ownership and noting any mortgage secured against the property.

Contact our Residential Property Solicitors Today

At Clifton Ingram our solicitors can advise you on all aspects of buying a property. We are a proactive and down-to-earth team of highly experienced solicitors, bringing a high quality and professional service to your local area. We regularly advise clients in Wokingham, Reading and Farnham and across all of Berkshire, Surrey and Hampshire.

Speak to one of our team today to see how we can help on 03003 035762 or 01252 986992. Our solicitors will move fast to find a solution personal to you.

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