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Agreeing the sale, exchanging contracts and completing

Agreeing the sale

When a prospective buyer is ready to make an offer, they will contact your estate agent. Each offer is considered based on the amount offered and the buyer’s position. A buyer may increase their offer more than once and negotiation may be required before an agreement is made.

It is important to remember that until contracts are exchanged, the agreement is not yet legally binding and either party can still pull out from the transaction up to this point.

When an offer is accepted a memorandum of sale is usually issued to set out the details of the transaction and to declare both parties’ intent to complete the transaction. This will usually require you to take the property off the market however this should be discussed with your agent.

The buyer will arrange for a surveyor to inspect the property. This is usually done on behalf of the mortgage lender when a mortgage is required or the buyer may appoint their own surveyor. If the survey shows that the property requires significant work, or there is a down valuation, renegotiation may be required. At this stage, you may need to obtain quotes for the required work and balance the cost effectiveness of paying for the work yourself against accepting a reduced offer.

During this period the buyer’s solicitor will carry out any necessary searches, and both solicitors will draft contracts. The contracts will reference the following:

  • The agreed price
  • Property boundaries
  • Any fixtures and fittings which are included in the price
  • Any planning restrictions
  • Any legal restrictions placed on the property
  • Any public thoroughfares that pass over the land
  • The property’s services
  • A date of completion

The completion date included in the contract should be mutually agreed by all parties in the property chain.

Exchanging contracts

When both parties are satisfied with the contracts, they are signed and exchanged. It is at this point that you are bound by law to sell the property to the buyer and the buyer is legally obliged to proceed with the purchase.

The buyer’s solicitor will contact the Land Registry Office to arrange for the deeds to be transferred into the buyer’s name, and the deposit will be transferred to you solicitor.


On the date of completion the money will be transferred from buyer to seller up the chain via the solicitors.

Providing the buyer’s money has been transferred, this is the date they can access the property so you will need to vacate the property and arrange for the keys to be handed to the buyer. It is common to leave the keys with the estate agent for the new owner to collect. Once the estate agent has been advised by the solicitor that all necessary funds have been transferred, they are then instructed that the keys may be released.

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