What is the legal process for selling a house?

Selling a house can feel like a huge task. Not only is it a lengthy process with many checks and various parties on either side of the property chain, but it’s also a procedure with particular legal obligations attached.

Let us break down the process of selling a house and the focus on the legal stages that lead up to a handover.

Five main stages in the legal process of selling a house

Each individual house sale process is different. Some sellers only need to make a few calls and meetings, whereas others might find they constantly need to keep up with changing minds and shifting circumstances.

However, the overall process can be broken down into key steps.

Seller’s instruction to their conveyancing solicitor

A catalyst at the outset of the house selling process is accepting an offer for your home. At this point, you need to instruct your solicitor or conveyancer so that they can make the necessary arrangements.

Having somebody chosen before this stage will help move things along more smoothly and ensure there’s no delay to starting the selling process while you look for a suitable conveyancer.

‘Instructing’ is essentially telling your conveyancer that you’re happy for them to carry out their work on your behalf.

Before exchange of contracts

Contracts in the legal process of selling a house are nothing to rush into.

The stages before exchange are perhaps the most important, because they’re a last chance to ensure you’ve covered everything before you’re happy to put your name on a legally binding sale.

At this stage you’ll have a lot to tick off, and your conveyancer can help oversee these processes.

Among many other things, you’ll want to agree on a completion date, get your mortgage offer in writing, and ensure you fully understand all the terms, conditions, and stipulations laid out in the sale.

Exchange of contracts

The exchange of contracts is when you formally and legally commit to the sale of your house. Solicitors working on behalf of either party will swap the contracts so that each side has a copy of the signed agreement.

Once contracts have been signed and exchanged, you’re legally committed to the sale. Backing out past this stage in the process will likely put you in breach of contract and you may owe the other party compensation.

Preparing for moving day (before completion day)

Contracts may have been signed but there’s still much to do before completion.

Your solicitor needs to receive payment from the buyers, and completion can’t take place until you actually move out.

There’s likely to be fees you still owe to wind down the process, such as estate agent and solicitor fees.

Completion day

Take meter readings for utility companies, hand your keys to the necessary party, and pay your money to your own sellers if you’re moving into a new property at the same time as vacating yours.

In the meantime, your conveyancer will be doing the necessary background work to legally register you as owners of the property with H.M. Land Registry and seeing that money goes to the appropriate people.

How to sell a house in the UK

Selling a home can be a complicated process with many legal pitfalls.

For this reason, many people use an experienced estate agency to help them oversee the process alongside solicitors.

Mistoria Estate Agents can make the process of selling a house straightforward, time efficient, and as stress-free as possible. Let us help you oversee your house sale process with the experience we’ve gained over years in the property market.

To find out more about our award-winning service, contact your local team today.

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