Buying a house is a probably one of the most important financial commitments you are likely to ever make and it is understandable why it is up there on the list of “most stressful things you will go through in your life” together with divorce!
Once your offer is accepted this is where the legal work begins and this can often take time whilst your solicitor carries out searches and raises enquiries. Your mortgage lender will instruct a surveyor and often whilst all this is going on, you as the buyer are busy arranging removals or ordering and buying new furniture.
Unfortunately what the majority of buyers (and sellers) do not realise is that the contract does not become legally binding until the exchange of contracts takes place. Up until this point, either the seller or buyer, for whatever reason, may change their mind even if a completion date has been suggested. This often causes a lot of upset for people who go ahead and make plans on the basis of a conversation with the seller or the estate agent regarding the completion date.
The exchange of contracts can usually take place once all enquiries have been dealt with satisfactorily, search results and mortgage offer are in and the deposit has been paid to the solicitor. A completion date will have been discussed and once the contracts are exchanged, this date is inserted into the contract and at this point the contract becomes legally binding.
Our advice to our clients who are purchasing is not to rush ahead and make too many plans until we have finalised all the work we need to do. Especially do not hand in your notice to your landlord before exchanging contracts or you could find yourself homeless!