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Offer Accepted on a House, What Happens Next?

Martha Lott

Written by Reviewed by Graham Norwood

19th Feb 2020 (Last updated on 15th May 2023) 8 minute read

From hiring a conveyancer to organising your moving day, there’s a lot to get done once your offer has been accepted on a house. This is when the real work begins and so you need to try not to get caught up in the excitement and begin preparing for the process.

As a buyer, having your offer accepted on a house brings so much excitement and relief. After months of searching, the day you’ve wished for finally comes and the seller accepts your offer. But then, what next? There’s a lot of work that needs to be done as this is the start of the transaction, so organisation is key.

Compare My Move have created this guide to help you plan the next steps for when your offer is accepted. We’ve also answered a few common questions related to the process to help you begin. We aim to inform you as much as possible to help you prepare with little stress so you can focus on the joy of having found your dream home.

  1. 1. Hire a Conveyancing Solicitor
  2. 2. Finalise Your Mortgage
  3. 3. Arrange a Property Survey
  4. 4. Exchange Contracts and Complete
  5. 5. Move In
  6. How Long Does it Take From Offer to Completion?
  7. Can Others Put an Offer on the Same House?
  8. Can Either Party Withdraw at This Stage?
  9. How Long Does it Take to Move House Once an Offer Has Been Accepted?
  10. Next Steps of Buying a House

1. Hire a Conveyancing Solicitor

You've made an offer on a house and it's been accepted! The first thing you should focus on as a buyer is hiring a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor. Once your offer has been accepted, it’s time to begin the conveyancing process and find an experienced professional.

Your conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will complete all the necessary legal work, such as handling contracts, completing the conveyancing searches, dealing with Land Registry and transferring vital funds. Although it’s possible to do the conveyancing yourself, it’s not advised as the conveyancing process is highly complex and one misstep could delay or void the transaction.

If you're later unhappy with your chosen professional, know that you do have the option of changing conveyancers.

Don’t forget to use Compare My Move to compare conveyancing quotes, saving you both time and money. Comparing conveyancers can help you stretch your budget further and find the most trusted professionals in your local area. All our conveyancing partners are fully regulated and have been put through our strict verification process to ensure they can provide first-class services to every user.

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2. Finalise Your Mortgage

You should already know who your mortgage lender is by this point, but now is the time to complete your application and finalise your mortgage. Once your offer has been accepted you should immediately inform your lender as they’ll need to ensure that the property’s value is the same amount as the agreed purchase price. They will do this by scheduling a mortgage valuation.

If you haven’t finished your mortgage application, do so as soon as possible. Make sure you have the necessary documents such as ID, bank statements, proof of address and proof of earnings. Data from Quick Move Now discovered that 13% of failed house sales in 2018 did so due to difficulties with securing a mortgage. This research highlights how important finalising your mortgage is.

Once your mortgage offer has been accepted, you can either resume comparing lenders or accept and continue the process. Once the details have been finalised, you should have up to 7 days to decide if it’s right for you. It’s possible to pull out of a mortgage offer up until the exchange of contracts, but you may lose money if you do so.

3. Arrange a Property Survey

Next, it’s time to arrange a property survey. Your mortgage lender will request a valuation, but it’s recommended to arrange a more comprehensive house survey such as a RICS Level 2 Homebuyers Survey or RICS Level 3 Building Survey. The survey will include an inspection of the property where the surveyor will highlight any defects or structural issues.

It’s important to hire a qualified surveyor to ensure the survey is as accurate as possible. All Compare My Move surveying partners are RICS regulated to ensure they can provide a quality service to every user. We put our partners through a stringent verification process so that when you compare surveying quotes, you’ll be connected with the most qualified professionals in your local area.

House surveys, by definition, aim for perfection so will highlight problems. Try not to panic if you see a lengthy list of issues - many may not be major. You can use the results to calculate the necessary repair costs and decide whether the property is actually a worthy investment. You then have the option of pulling out of the sale, negotiating the house price to cover the costs or continuing with the transaction regardless.

4. Exchange Contracts and Complete

Now is the time to start preparing to exchange contracts, pay your deposit and confirm your completion date. This is the final stretch for completing the transaction and the process will usually be led by your conveyancing solicitor. Once your mortgage has been approved and the conveyancing searches are complete, you’ll be able to sign and exchange contracts. Once these steps are complete, ownership of the property is transferred to the buyer.

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. If you try to pull out of the sale, you risk losing your deposit.

In 2020 there will be some pilot projects involving conveyancers, testing a new idea called Reservation Agreements. This may involve both buyers and sellers paying a sum (perhaps £500 to £1,000) which either would lose if they pulled out of the deal at a later stage. The long-term goal is to find a way of reducing deals falling through. If you do come across one of these pilots, the rest of the purchase process remains the same.

5. Move In

Following the completion day, you can collect the keys and begin moving into your new home as the property is now legally yours.

At this stage, you can begin packing your house and compare removal quotes to ensure you find the best professionals for the job. If you're able to be flexible with your moving date, try to compare quotes for different days of the week as you may find some days are cheaper due to less demand.

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How Long Does it Take From Offer to Completion?

The average time to get from an accepted offer to legal completion in the UK is 11 weeks. This comes from a study conducted by the advice and support website, The Advisory. However, this timescale can vary due to a variety of factors, often falling somewhere between 11-21 weeks.

Completion day often occurs 7-28 days after exchanging contracts. However, although uncommon, it is possible to exchange and complete on the same day. There are a number of issues that could cause delays. But if you’re organised and clearly communicate with your conveyancer, it should continue quite smoothly. Once you have your completion date, it’s time to compare removal companies.

Can Others Put an Offer on the Same House?

Just because an offer on a house has been accepted, it does not mean that the ownership of the property has been transferred. The property is considered as Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC) so it’s still possible for other potential buyers to provide alternative offers. As the buyer and seller have not signed or exchanged contracts, the offer is not legally binding.

Gazumping is when a seller accepts another offer by a different buyer before the sale is completed. Although it’s legal, it is often frowned upon. Research from Market Financial Solutions revealed that 31% of British homeowners in the past decade have lost out on a house sale because of this very reason. Some sellers welcome higher offers, making gazumping a very real possibility.

Can Either Party Withdraw at This Stage?

The sale is not legally binding until the contracts have been signed and exchanged meaning both parties are legally able to withdraw from the sale.

Ownership of the property is not transferred until the contracts have been signed and exchanged and the deposit paid for. Once this has occurred, both parties are legally obliged to continue with the transaction.

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

There’s no set time for how long it takes to move in once an offer has been accepted. The moving house timeline can take between 12 weeks and 6 months depending on your personal situation. It’ll then take a further 1-2 days to completely move in.

The buyer can begin moving in once they’ve acquired the keys on completion day. This occurs between 7-28 days after exchanging contracts unless you’re able to do both on the same day. The seller must move out before this date, otherwise, it’ll cause further delays in the property chain. Usually the buyer can pick up the keys to the new home around midday; this allows time for monies to be passed through to the seller’s conveyancing solicitor and confirmed.

As your completion date will be agreed in advance, you can begin comparing removal companies as soon as you know the date. Compare My Move’s removal partners are put through a strict removals verification process to ensure they’re qualified, experienced and fully regulated, providing first-class services to get you to your new home safely.

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Next Steps of Buying a House

This guide has been part of our home buying guide. Our aim is to prepare and guide you through the buying process. Next we take a look at what gazumping means and how it could impact you. For more information see: What is Gazumping and is it Legal?

Martha Lott

Written by Martha Lott

Having guest authored for many property websites, Martha now researches and writes articles for everything moving house related, from remortgages to conveyancing costs.

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.

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