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Offer Accepted on a House - What are the Next Steps?

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Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 15th May 2024) 7 minute read

There are essential steps to take once your offer has been accepted on a house. This includes hiring a conveyancer and organising your moving day. Your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will ensure that the legal process of buying a house is followed. They will act on your behalf when liaising with relevant parties.

As a buyer, having your offer accepted on a house can bring so much excitement and relief. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done as this is the start of the transaction, so organisation is key.

In this guide, we’ll take you through what to expect once your offer is accepted. We have also answered a few common questions related to the process. This will help you prepare for your move with minimal stress.

  1. 1. Take the Property Off the Market
  2. 2. Hire a Conveyancing Solicitor
  3. 3. Finalise Your Mortgage
  4. 4. Arrange a Property Survey
  5. 5. Exchange Contracts and Complete
  6. 6. Pick up Keys and Move In
  7. Finding a Conveyancer

1. Take the Property Off the Market

When an offer has been accepted, the property is classed as Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC). This means that another buyer can make an offer and have that offer accepted.

Once you have made an offer on a property that has been accepted, you will receive confirmation from the estate agents. Therefore, it’s imperative to ask the estate agent to remove the listing as soon as possible. This will minimise the risk of gazumping. This is when another buyer makes a higher offer which is then accepted.

2. Hire a Conveyancing Solicitor

One of the first steps is finding a conveyancer. This is especially true if you are a first time buyer as you will no experience in the property purchasing process. Conveyancers will handle the legal aspects of your property purchase. This includes arranging searches on the property such as the Local Authority Search. The conveyancing process takes between 8 and 12 weeks on average from the offer being accepted to completion.

If you are buying with a mortgage, you must hire a conveyancer. However, if you are not using a mortgage, hiring a conveyancer is still highly recommended.

Using comparison sites like Compare My Move to find a conveyancer can be hugely beneficial, saving you time and money. Simply fill in our conveyancing comparison form and we will match you with up to 6 licensed conveyancers. You can compare quotes and save up to 70% on your total conveyancing fees.

Our partners have passed a strict verification process. This includes providing proof of regulation by one of the following:

  • Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA)
  • Council for Licensed Conveyancers (CLC)
  • Law Society of Scotland (LSS)
  • Law Society of Northern Ireland (LSNI)
  • Chartered Institute of Legal Executives (CILEX)

They must also adhere to our Code of Conduct to ensure that all jobs are carried out to the highest standard.

Read more about How Long Does Conveyancing Take?

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3. Finalise Your Mortgage

You should already know who your mortgage lender is by this point and have your mortgage agreement in principle. Now is the time to complete your mortgage application and finalise your mortgage. It takes around 4 weeks to arrange your mortgage offer. Hiring a mortgage broker can be beneficial as they can offer expert advice throughout the application process.

You must inform your lender of the accepted offer as they need to ensure that the property value is the same as the agreed purchase price. They will do this by scheduling a mortgage valuation. If successful, this will result in a mortgage offer.

4. Arrange a Property Survey

Once the mortgage valuation has been carried out, you should arrange a property survey. Your surveyor will inspect the interior and exterior of the property. They will then write up a report, highlighting any problems found that can impact the value of the property. Survey inspections take between 1-8 hours to complete depending on the type of survey you choose. It can then take another 3-7 days to receive your written report.

There are several survey types available, so it’s important to choose the one that best suits the property. The most popular surveys are the RICS Home Survey Levels 2 and 3.

The RICS Home Survey Level 2, previously known as the Homebuyers Report, is best suited for homes with standard construction. It is a non-invasive survey so the floorboards and carpets are not inspected. Ideal for newer properties, your surveyor will provide a detailed report on the property.

The RICS Home Survey Level 3, previously known as a Building Survey, is the most comprehensive survey available. It can be used on all property types but is best suited for older and historical buildings. It is also recommended for properties with non-standard construction. It can also be beneficial for those looking for a more in-depth survey of any property.

There are also specialist surveys such as the Snagging Survey, which has been designed with new build properties in mind. Some surveyors specialise in Snagging Surveys only. Therefore, it’s important to check that your surveyor can do them.

Read more on How Long Does a Survey Take?

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5. Exchange Contracts and Complete

The property transaction becomes legally binding at the exchange of contracts. This is carried out once all negotiations and agreements have been accepted by both parties. At this point, you will pay your deposit and confirm your completion date. The ownership of the property is then transferred to the buyer. It takes approximately 1-2 weeks to exchange contracts and complete the sale.

It’s at this point that both the buyer and seller are no longer legally able to pull out of the property sale. Once you’ve signed and exchanged contracts, the buyer is then the legal owner of the property. Now, we would recommend looking into buildings insurance which will cover the cost of rebuilding your home, should the worst happen (natural disaster).

Your conveyancer will also arrange the Title Deeds with the Land Registry. They will also pay any outstanding payments on your behalf. This includes Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) for those in England and Northern Ireland, Land Transaction Tax (LTT) in Wales, and Land and Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) in Scotland.

6. Pick up Keys and Move In

Following completion, you can collect the keys and arrange your moving-in day. To ensure a smooth transition, following our packing for moving house tips will make the process more efficient. It can take around 1-2 days to move into your new home, especially if you own a lot of large and heavy items such as furniture.

Hiring a removal company is a great way to minimise stress during your move. Fill in our removal comparison form to compare quotes from up to 6 removal companies and save up to 70% on your total costs.

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Finding a Conveyancer

At Compare My Move, we can connect you with up to 6 conveyancers to save you up to 70% on your conveyancing costs. All our conveyancing partners have passed our strict verification process for your peace of mind. This means they are all regulated by either the SRA, CLC, LSS, LSNI or CILEx.

Need a Surveyor?

Once you've found a conveyancer, you soon might need the help of a RICS property surveyor. Simply fill in our integrated conveyancing and surveying comparison form to get connected today.

You can compare companies through our integrated conveyancing and surveying form by filling out a few extra steps. We will then connect you with local conveyancers and surveyors to save on the whole process.

FAQs

How Long Does it Take From Offer to Completion?

The average time from an accepted offer to legal completion in the UK is 12 weeks. Completion day typically happens 7-28 days after the exchange of contracts. However, it is possible to exchange and complete on the same day. For example, if the seller has already moved out.

Can Others Put an Offer on the Same House?

Once your offer is accepted, it will be Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC). This means other potential buyers can put in offers. If the seller accepts an offer from another buyer while the property is SSTC, this is known as gazumping.

Can Either Party Withdraw at This Stage?

Both parties can legally withdraw from the sale before the exchange of contracts. Keep in mind that any money you have spent may not be refunded. Having Home Buyers’ Protection Insurance in place will minimise the total costs lost. If either party wishes to withdraw from the transaction following this stage, there may be legal repercussions.

If your solicitor's contract includes a no move no fee conveyancing guarantee, you may be able to recoup some of the costs if the sale falls through.

How Long Does it Take to Move House Once an Offer Has Been Accepted?

Moving house takes between 12 weeks and 6 months on average. This is from your offer being accepted to your move-in. The total time it will take you to move house depends on your situation. This can include whether you are chain-free, such as a first-time or cash buyer.

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Graham Norwood

Reviewed by Graham Norwood

Editor, Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today

With over 20 years of experience in residential property journalism, Graham is currently the editor for both Letting Agent Today and Landlord Today.