Accountancy and legal services
for you, your business and your family

Sale Timeline

This gives an overview of the SALE conveyancing process once you have found a buyer for your property.

Stage 1

  • Offer accepted by seller
  • Buyer and seller instruct separate solicitors to act on their behalf
  • Seller’s solicitors send the seller the Property Information Form, (Leasehold Information Form if relevant) and Fittings and Contents Forms for the seller to complete and return. They will also be asked for evidence of identity documents and money on account.
  • Seller’s solicitors then request the EPC, any title deeds a lender may hold and also a repayment figure for any existing mortgage of the seller.
  • (The buyer will make a mortgage application at this stage).

Stage 2

  • Once forms are received back from the seller, the seller’s solicitor can prepare the contract papers and send them to the buyer’s solicitors
  • If the property is leasehold the seller’s solicitors will need to obtain further documentation from any landlord/management company as to rent, service charge etc. There is usually a fee payable to them for this
  • The buyer’s solicitors will then check the documentation and make enquiries to ensure no legal problems with the property – they send these to the seller’s solicitor.
  • (The buyer’s solicitors send off for searches and the buyer should arrange a survey/valuation)

Stage 3

  • Buyer receives formal mortgage offer from their lender
  • Buyer’s solicitor receives satisfactory search results and replies to the enquiries they made and is happy with things from a legal point of view.
  • Buyer is sent contract to sign/or goes to his solicitor to sign and hand over the deposit money.
  • Seller signs contract
  • Date for completion is informally agreed between parties – Completion date is the day the keys are handed over, vacant possession is given and the monies handed over


  • EXCHANGE OF CONTRACTS – when the matter becomes legally binding on both the seller and buyer and the COMPLETION DATE is agreed
  • Seller’s solicitors request an up-dated repayment figure from the lender (if any)
  • Seller’s solicitors request Estate Agents’ account (if any)
  • Buyer’s solicitors requests mortgage money from lender
  • Seller arranges to have the meters read, inform local and water authorities and to vacate the property on the completion date.


  • Seller vacates the property
  • Buyer collects keys from the Estate Agents (if any)
  • Sale monies are distributed as per the detailed Completion Financial Statement.



This is a certificate which must be obtained by the seller (or their estate agent). It contains information about a property’s energy use and typical energy costs and recommendations about how to reduce energy use and save money. It is usually sent with the contract papers.


The day when the property changes ownership from the seller to the buyer.

The seller must vacate and leave the property on this day.

The buyer collects the keys.

The money is sent by the buyer’s solicitors to the seller’s solicitors.

The seller’s solicitors send sufficient funds to the lender to repay any existing mortgages of the seller.

The seller’s solicitors pay the Estate Agents’ fees.

The balance monies are sent to the seller


This is a sum of money which is payable by the buyer and is sent to the seller’s solicitors on exchange of contracts.

A maximum of 10% of the price is payable under the terms of the contract. However, depending on the amount of mortgage the buyer is obtaining, sometimes a small deposit is accepted.

One of the reasons the 10% deposit is paid is to deter the buyer from pulling out of the transaction after exchange of contracts. If the buyer does, then the deposit is lost.


The point in the process where the seller and buyer become legally bound into selling or buying the property.

Until Exchange of Contracts there is no legal requirement for either the buyer or the seller to proceed. Either one of them can withdraw without legal penalty.

Exchange is basically a telephone conversation between the seller’s solicitor and buyer’s solicitor in which the date of Completion is formally agreed.

A buyer should no proceed to Exchange until their solicitor is satisfied all legal matters relating to the property are in order and they have a satisfactory survey/valuation and search results and a mortgage offer.

You should not serve any notice in respect of any tenancy agreement or instruct a removal company until your solicitors has confirmed the completion date after exchange.

Read all the latest news and views here
from Optimum Professional Services

Latest News

Get the industry inside news with our informative articles.

This year we are ‘Doing It For Dan’

We fundraise for a different charity each year, and this time we will be supporting Swindon-based Doing It For Dan.

Read more

Optimum: LIVE! – Episode 7 – Owning A Property With ...

Optimum’s Head of Legal, Iain Mason, explores considerations such as the difference between “joint tenants” and “tenants in common”, which might be the best, and situations we need to manage in the future with either of these routes.

Read more

Stay up to date