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The Pre-Exchange Checklist

Phi Spencer

By Phil Spencer

It’s almost time to collect your keys and move into your new property.

The weeks running up to the exchange will have been spent receiving, reviewing and approving information from your solicitor.

It can sometimes be hard to keep track of where you are in the process.

To try and help, we have put together a pre-exchange checklist, to help you in these final stages.

What to consider about your solicitor

Your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor will coordinate your exchange, so it’s essential to ensure everything is in order here.

By this stage, your solicitor should have provided you with their ‘Report on Title’.

This summarises all of the facts they have about your property and all of the information they have been provided by the seller’s solicitor.

Here’s what to consider when it comes to your solicitor:

Does the Land Registry plan match the property?

Your solicitor will have provided you with a plan of the property that you are buying.

Be sure that you have checked what is outlined on the plan against what you can see on the ground.

Make your solicitor aware if you feel there may be any discrepancies.

Your solicitor will not have visited the house, and so needs to verify the accuracy of the plan.

Are you happy with the search results to enquiries you have made?

Within the report your solicitor provides you with will be all the information they have received from their searches.

This gives feedback on a number of factors that could affect your enjoyment of the property or its value. This includes:

  • Local planning applications or schemes
  • If there is any flood risk or contaminated land nearby
  • What (if any) restrictions there are on the property in terms of planning i.e. is it in an AONB or conservation area?

Once your solicitor has seen these searches and the other paperwork from the seller (e.g. contract, title deeds and property information forms) they will raise enquiries to the seller’s solicitor with any queries they have.

These can be numerous and complex, but you should have your solicitor’s feedback on them all within their final report.

Don’t be afraid to call your solicitor to discuss any points you aren’t clear on or completely happy with.

Are you comfortable with the feedback from your survey?

20% of buyers get a professional property survey before they finalise the buy.

This property survey will consider structural problems, such as subsidence, or any repairs that will need to be dealt with.

Whatever sort of survey you choose, you will now have had the report and shared it with your solicitor.

They will have raised enquiries to the seller regarding any issues it highlights.

Before you exchange, you need to make sure you are happy to continue with the purchase of the property and have an idea of the cost of any significant work that the survey recommends.

If in doubt, speak to the surveyor directly.

Don’t proceed until you are happy that you can either live with the issues or afford to repair them.

Signed documents

To guarantee a smooth exchange, sign all documents on time.

At this point, the exchange of contracts will become legally binding - meaning you’re one step closer to your new home!

Are you happy with the details of the contract?

This will outline all the terms you have agreed in order to purchase the property.

Make sure you are happy with the facts and figures contained within it before you commit to an exchange.

It will also contain information about any fixtures and fittings you have agreed to buy - make sure that list mirrors your expectations.

Have you got your formal mortgage offer in writing?

You need to make sure your solicitor has a copy of your formal mortgage offer before you exchange.

Your mortgage company will have established their opinion of the value of the property you want to buy and carried out all their final checks on you.

Affordability is key nowadays, so there may be conditions attached to the borrowing, such as clearing existing debt.

The final stages

While these final parts of the checklist are vital, they are also exciting- the exchange is almost complete!

Have you agreed a completion date?

Agreeing a completion date can sometimes be problematic. You may have different agendas and timescales than your seller, but you cannot exchange until you have agreement on this date. 

If you are having trouble agreeing something, try to offer a degree of flexibility where possible. Use a property exchange system like Gazeal to speed things up.

Have you gathered your deposit funds for exchange?

Forward your deposit to your solicitor’s client's account, so that they can then forward it on to the seller’s solicitor on exchange.

You need to make sure that you have the required amount, usually 10% of the purchase price, set aside and ready to transfer.

It’s advisable to transfer your deposit into your solicitor's account in advance of it when it is required.

Take out insurance

Ideally, take out buildings insurance when buying a house the moment you exchange contracts. If something happens to the property between exchange and completion, you could be responsible.

Need assistance with the buying process?

If you need to, we can provide you with a survey quote for free. All the surveyors we work with operate a price promise, ensuring you value for money!

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