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The home buying process goes through a long process of submitting documents and negotiating terms. Most of the time, the actual homeowners aren’t enough to handle all these procedures. This is why they need help from professionals in the real estate industry for various requirements.

A conveyancer is a legal expert that specialises in handling different legal documents to help a home buyer or property owner. They are responsible for confirming that your paperwork goes smoothly for all parties’ benefit. One of the many transactions a conveyancer can help you with is exchanging and completing signed contracts.

The Value of Exchanging Contracts

Exchanging contracts marks the point where the sellers’ and buyers’ parties are legally bound to complete the transaction. It’s a legal provision for all parties concerned to prevent anyone from cancelling their purchase or sale unless certain criteria are present. Non-compliance from either party can now result in penalties or legal action, depending on the offence. Once the exchange commences, the completion date will confirm the final stage of buying the property once all necessary documents have been exchanged.

The Process of Exchanging Contracts

During an exchange, all parties’ conveyancers swap documents when necessary. The buyers’ and sellers’ conveyancers swap the signed title of deed and the confirmation of deposit funds and mortgage offers. Sometimes, buyers will also need to forward building insurance policies when purchased.

Once both parties have received their legal documents from respective senders, they’ll need to confirm the exchange of contracts to make it legally binding. If the transaction cannot be done in person, a confirmation over the phone can still make it legally binding. All exchange contracts need a completion date, so it’s important to mention this if your current draft of the home buying terms doesn’t contain one.

The Importance of Completion Dates

Like any product purchase, buying a home needs to have consent from the buyer and seller to push through. Unless both parties agree on the terms of the sale, no legally binding contract will be signed. A completion finalises this arrangement by allowing the seller’s conveyancer to confirm the receipt of money, and ownership is transferred to the buyer.

The completion date isn’t just the process of passing out documents. It also includes stipulation when the seller forgoes ownership of a property, effectively making them free from a property’s liabilities after a set date and time. Additionally, the seller is obligated to give the keys to the buyer, officially relinquishing ownership of the building.

Once the sale is complete, the buyer must now pay Stamp Due Land Tax filed to the HMRC. A conveyancer typically handles this transaction as well, sending the payment on behalf of the buyer. This also follows the registration of the home with the Land Registry. The buyer must then receive confirmation from their conveyancer about the successful payment of this application.

The Issue with a Buyer’s Deposit

Besides a property’s mortgage deposit, the buyer is also obligated to pay a deposit for the exchange. Since buyers and sellers are legally bound to push through with the sale from this point onwards, the buyer needs to drop a 5-10 per cent value of the purchase price via bank transfer, cashier’s cheque, or money order cleared by the bank.

This maintains your stand as a buyer to be in talks with the seller instead of them leaving you off to sell the property to another prospect. Your conveyancer can help with this deposit several days in advance before the exchange date.

The deposit also protects the seller from buyers leaving the transaction midway. The buyer’s deposit funds can give the seller peace of mind that their property will soon be sold with a respective buyer. If the buyer voids any terms on the contractor or opts to forego their purchase, the deposit will be claimed by the buyer in full as compensation. Once the property deed has been exchanged with the buyer, the buyer can then access the deposit funds.

The Guidelines Regarding Exchanges and Chains

Conveyancers at the exchange can be tricky if they are working in a chain. This is because different values and fees in the market can affect the ten per cent exchange deposit amount. If a link in the chain depends on equity from the property sale, they may need to get funds elsewhere to match the exchange deposit value.

Conveyancers can move the exchange deposit up the chain, so buyers only need to pay a smaller value to cover the total value. This prevents buyers from paying too much upfront costs if the value of the property being purchased continues to increase before the completion date.

The Preparations Before a Completion Date

Buyers and sellers typically have 2-4 weeks between the exchange and completion. There’s technically no rule preventing buyers and sellers from having the exchange and completion date on the same day. However, it’s usually set at a different date to let two parties handle other preparations for the sale.

Here are some examples of obligations that buyers and sellers need to cover before the completion date:

  • The buyer needs to settle a tentative date with the seller to book a removals company

  • Transfer of services for broadband, plumbing, and other utilities need to be performed beforehand

  • Transfer of address for the buyer and seller may be necessary for mail redirection under the Royal Mail

Once both parties have settled these requirements, the finalisation of the transaction will be made easier. Keep in mind that scheduling a completion is best on any other day than Friday. This is because mortgage companies and solicitors are usually booked by the final workday of the week. Additionally, you may get better prices for your removal services on other days of the week.

The logistical benefit of avoiding delays also applies to the transfer of funds. Since bank transfers are unavailable during weekends, it’s better to schedule your completion date earlier than Friday. Doing so will make the transfer reflect on the buyer’s and seller’s accounts sooner instead of waiting for a while over the weekend.


Going through the home buying process needs to be handled delicately and professionally. This is why home buyers need to shop around for the best offer in the market. On the other hand, homeowners also need to be careful about picking the right buyers to optimise their investment. Both parties need to be clear and efficient with their respective requirements to agree on a fair deal for everyone.

With the help of a reliable conveyancer, you’ll avoid the issue of sending wrong or incomplete documents to guarantee your agreement with a buyer. Like any business partner, they perform an essential role in your negotiation’s success. This is why you should only work with trusted firms that specialise in conveyancing services.

If you need help finalising your home buying journey, our conveyancing solicitors in Pembrokeshire can assist you throughout the entire process. Our expert conveyancers at Conveyancing Calculator are here to give you the right financial advice and services. Contact us and receive effective conveyancing quotations today!


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