Agreeing the sale, exchanging and completing contracts

Agreeing the sale

Once your offer has been accepted (subject to contract), this is known as sale agreed. Your solicitor will begin to work through all the legal aspects of the sale and will receive the memorandum of sale from the seller's estate agent to confirm acceptance of the offer. You (or your mortgage adviser) will also begin the formal mortgage application.

At this stage, it is still possible for either the seller or the buyer to pull out, as both parties have up until the exchange of contracts before the contract becomes legally binding.

Exchanging contracts

The formal exchange of contracts agrees the terms of the sale and makes them legally binding to both you and the seller.

Before the formal exchange, you will need to:

  • Finalise and sign your mortgage documents
  • Have contact with your solicitor for a final report
  • Send your deposit to your solicitor
  • Make sure you understand the terms of the contract and read over it more than once. If you have any questions, ask your solicitor, who will be able to explain all the pertinent points and clauses
  • Make sure that you understand which fittings, fixtures and appliances will be included in the sale
  • Sign your contract

Once the exchange has taken place, you can look forward to the completion date, which is decided and confirmed at exchange.

The terms of the sale are now legally binding, which means that your deposit is non refundable if you change your mind. Equally, the seller is obliged to sell to you at the price you have agreed.


The completion date is when the money is transferred from you to the seller and the property legally changes hands. Once funds have transferred, you can collect your keys, which are normally left with the estate agent for you to collect. Your estate agent can only release the keys upon confirmation from the seller's solicitor that they are in receipt of funds. You will need to bring photo ID with you to collect your new keys.

The completion date is often four weeks after exchange, but you can choose to negotiate your completion date to suit both parties.

Your solicitor will transfer all necessary funds to the seller’s solicitor, after which you are the legal owner of your property.

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