When Can Contracts be Exchanged?

This week is National Conveyancing Week, a week long campaign designed to help people better understand the conveyancing process. Today, with the help of Phoebe Chapman at Parkrow Properties in Sherburn in Elmet we answer a commonly asked question of when can contracts be exchanged.

To start with, we should explain what is the exchange of contracts. The exchange of contracts is where both seller and buyer become legally bound to sell and buy the property. Before contracts are exchanged, either seller or buyer can pull out for any reason without penalty.

Before contracts can be exchanged, a completion date (the day funds and keys are handed over) must be agreed but before this can happen, the buyer’s conveyancer must be satisfied that the legal title to the property is satisfactory which usually includes being in receipt of any searches, mortgage offer, and replies to all enquiries which have been raised with the seller’s conveyancer.

Home buyer checking their Mortgage Offer

When the buyer’s conveyancer has received the Contract Pack from the seller’s conveyancer, searches are then requested which usually include a local authority search, drainage and water search and coal mining search. Additional searches such as environmental and flooding searches can also be requested if required and any others which are specific to the property area.

The buyer’s conveyancer will usually raise any enquiries relating to the property once they are in receipt of the searches as they can then be raised in one go rather than in piecemeal so not to complicate the enquiries.

The enquiries seek additional details about the property, its history, any ongoing legal matters, and any other relevant information. By raising these enquiries, any concerns or potential issues can be highlighted.  

What is the Principle of Buyer Beware?

Caveat Emptor applies to conveyancing and is a Latin phrase meaning “let the buyer beware”. Put simply, it is the buyer’s responsibility to ensure that the house they are purchasing is suitable for them and is in good condition. The buyer is purchasing the property “sold as seen” and it is the buyer’s responsibility to arrange a survey of the property (including arranging an inspection of the services at the property by a qualified person). This is important because we do not carry out a physical inspection of the property and the buyer will inherit any problems (structural or otherwise) following exchange of contracts.

Home with Broken Guttering

Phoebe Chapman from Park Row Properties recommends that any surveys and inspections are carried out early in the buying process to give time for any remedial works and/or price negotiations to take place.

If anything is agreed with an estate agent, it is important that this information is also passed on to the conveyancer acting for the seller and the buyer. The estate agent will usually let them both know but the seller and buyer should also confirm the information with their conveyancer direct.

Phoebe also recommends that you arrange a further viewing of the property before exchange of contracts to ensure that you are satisfied with its state and condition. This is particularly important if the property is currently empty or if any tenants have recently vacated.

How is a Completion Date Agreed?

When all the steps leading up to exchange of contracts have been concluded and the buyer’s conveyancer and the buyer are happy to proceed, a completion date can be agreed. This involves both seller and buyer putting convenient dates forward to their conveyancer and the respective conveyancer agreeing one with the seller and buyer.

The estate agent can also be involved in negotiating dates, but the seller and buyer must have confirmation of the completion date from their conveyancer as dates can be mistaken when there is a chain involved – all parties in the chain must usually agree the same date unless someone decides to break the chain.

You can find out more about the process of selling and buying your home by reading our online guides.

Contact us

☎️ Call our Wakefield office on 01924 290 029
☎️ Call our Garforth office on 0113 246 4423
☎️ Call our Sherburn in Elmet office on 01977 350 500
☎️ Call our Mapplewell office on 01226 339 009
☎️ Call our Ossett office on 01924 586 466

The content of this blog post is for information only and does not constitute formal legal advice and should not be relied upon as advice. Thornton Jones Solicitors Limited accepts no liability for any such reliance upon this content. Where the post includes links to external websites, Thornton Jones Solicitors Limited accepts no responsibility for the content of such sites. Any link to a third-party website should not be construed as endorsement by Thornton Jones Solicitors Limited of any content, products or services which are outside our direct control.

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