Process of Buying UK Property


A. Pre-Exchange of Contracts

The time from having an offer accepted to completion of the transaction can vary considerably from as little as a few days, to as much as several months, depending on a range of circumstances including the wishes of you and the Seller. Your solicitor will be in a better position to advise you on an estimated time frame once the transaction has commenced. During the legal due diligence (described below), which takes place prior to exchange of contracts, neither party is legally committed to the transaction and can withdraw at any time.

B. Legal due diligence and enquiries

Your solicitor will be responsible for ensuring that the property is satisfactory from a legal point of view, and will resolve any legal issues with the property. This will include checking through all the documentation and reporting to you on all aspects of the property including (but not limited to) ensuring that the title is free from restrictions, ensuring that all the relevant planning permissions and building consents are in place with the Local Authority, reporting to you on the amount of service charge (building maintenance charges if the property is leasehold) that will be payable by you and whether there are any forecasted items of major expenditure that will significantly affect the level of service charges payable in the future and ensuring that the terms of the lease are satisfactory and provide you with adequate rights.

In addition your solicitor will report to you on the results of the searches undertaken with the Local Authority and other relevant agencies, and will execute the legal transfer of the property to you and register you as the new owner at the UK Land Registry.

Your solicitor will make relevant enquiries with the Seller’s solicitors about the property and you can also instruct your solicitor to enquire about matters that you wish to know about the property.

Once your solicitors have received satisfactory replies to the enquiries that have been raised and all issues have been resolved, you will be sent a detailed report enclosing copies of all relevant documents. Once you have considered the report and have confirmed that you are satisfied and wish to proceed to exchange of contracts, arrangements must be made in preparation of exchange of contracts.

C. Arranging to transfer the deposit money

Whist your solicitor is conducting due diligence on the property and raising enquiries, you should consider making arrangements to transfer the deposit that has to be paid to the seller’s solicitors when contracts are exchanged (please see above section on transferring money). This deposit is usually 10% of the price of the property; however, it is sometimes possible to agree with the seller to pay a smaller deposit. If you are also selling a property, it is usually possible to use the deposit received on the property being sold towards the deposit on the property you are buying.

D. Insuring the property

You should make sure that buildings insurance is arranged from the date of exchange, because once contracts have been exchanged you are responsible for the property. In blocks of apartments, normally buildings insurance is in place as arranged by the freeholder. Your solicitor will advise you further on whether you will need to arrange buildings insurance for your property.

E. Exchange of contracts

Exchange of contracts can take place once:

(a) Your solicitor and you are satisfied with the legal aspects of the property.
(b) Your solicitor has received cleared deposit funds from you.
(c) You have signed the Contract and returned it to your solicitor.
(d) Completion date has been agreed with the Seller
(e) Your financial arrangements are in place for completion when the balance purchase monies must be paid over.

Once contracts have been exchanged, a binding commitment then exists between you and the seller whereby you are legally bound to complete the purchase of the property.

In some circumstances, you may be able to sell the benefit of the contract to a third party who will then go on to complete the purchase instead of you. Your solicitor will advise you more fully on the circumstances that may permit this.

F. Completion

Completion is the last stage in the property transaction when the remainder of the purchase price is paid to the seller’s solicitors in return for which the transfer document and all other documents are handed over to your solicitor. The keys to the property will also be handed over at this stage. Completion normally takes place around two weeks after exchange of contracts, although it can vary to any length of time as agreed between you and the seller.

G. After Completion

After completion, your solicitor will arrange for the stamp duty land tax to be paid to the Inland Revenue and will also arrange for the property to be registered in your name at the Land Registry. This can sometimes take a few weeks and your solicitor will advise you when this registration process has been completed.


Aspects of buying UK property

This page aims to provide you with information concerning:
- Legal Ownership of a property
- UK Money Laundering Regulations
- Transferring money
- Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) Rates
- UK Taxation. This included information for Resident / Non Resident Individuals
Click here to read more.


For more information, please contact Harrods Estates:

Knightsbridge Office:
82 Brompton Road     
SW3 1ER      
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7225 6506

Mayfair Office:
61 Park Lane
Tel: +44 (0) 20 7409 9001
Email Harrods Estates



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