It can be frustrating when you miss out on buying your dream home. There are a number of reasons that can contribute to this, but not using an experienced property solicitor may be one of them. Here’s some key advice from the B P Collins’ residential property team on what to expect and how to make things progress smoothly.

It is important to talk to an experienced residential property solicitor as soon as possible after you’ve spotted the property you wish to buy. They will be able to guide you through the whole process from start to finish and ensure you have everything in place to complete the dream house purchase.

Your solicitor should explain each stage of the home-buying process, push forward each stage efficiently and effectively, be available to advise at every step, be proactive in communicating with the seller’s solicitor and, of course, solve any legal problems which may arise.

What will your solicitor need to know?

They will need to know if you: 

  •  have already applied for a mortgage;
  • have the balance of purchase price funds readily available;
  •  want to buy a freehold or leasehold property;
  •  wish to carry out building work;
  •  are buying the property with another person;
  •  are selling a home;
  •  own any other residential properties;
  • are purchasing as an investor or to live in.

Making an offer

When you make an offer to the seller’s estate agent on a house you wish to buy and the seller accepts, you will need to share your solicitor’s details with the agent to start the purchase process. The agent will also need evidence of your ability to purchase the property, for example, a mortgage in principle, sale of another home and details of any savings.


After the lender has independently valued the property, they will issue you with a mortgage offer, which you may wish for your solicitor to review to ensure you understand what you are committing to.  


Your solicitor should conduct property searches including a Local Authority search, which deals with a number of issues such as planning permissions relating to the Property, a Building Control Completion certificate and so on. Mortgage lenders will require that a HM Land Registry; local authority; environmental and drainage and water searches are carried out. There may be others, depending on what your lender requests or that are bespoke to the property or area you are buying in. If you’re buying without a mortgage, these searches are not compulsory, but it is advisable to carry them out to find out as much as possible about the property you are buying, so that you are not faced with issues in the future.


A building surveyor should be instructed to conduct a survey of the property and flag any problems, such as structural issues or damp problems. If any building work or remedial work is required, you may wish to ask the Seller to undertake the remedial work or negotiate a price reduction. If you do negotiate on the purchase price and you have a lender, a new mortgage offer will need to be obtained.  Your solicitor should be able to recommend a good local surveyor to you.

Exchange of contracts

Once you and the seller have agreed to go ahead with the purchase, your solicitor will exchange the signed contracts with the seller’s solicitor and transfer your deposit to the seller. After exchanging contracts, the agreement is legally binding and is secured by the 10% deposit. There are a number of consequences if you fail to complete and you risk losing the full 10% deposit.


Completion takes place when your solicitor transfers the purchase amount after deducting the deposit already paid to the seller’s solicitor. They will then confirm with the seller who will hand over the key either through the estate agent or directly to you – arguably the most exciting part of the process mixed with a huge sense of relief!

Your solicitor will usually organise to pay any stamp duty land tax (SDLT) to the HMRC within two weeks of completion. If you’re a first-time buyer you may be eligible for first-time buyers’ relief, which may mean you won’t have to pay SDLT at all or you will pay a reduced amount.

You solicitor will also make an application to register you as the property owner and any mortgage charge on behalf of your lender at HM Land Registry.

Buying a property is one of the most expensive purchases you will ever make, so it’s worth considering a lawyer who will be firmly committed to your matter and offer a bespoke service tailored to you and your individual circumstances. For further advice and information, please email or call 01753 889995.

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