‘I’ve signed my contract – have I bought the property now?’
The contract is not enforceable until an exchange has occurred, where your conveyancer will complete the details including the completion date. Often the contract is signed in advance, together with other necessary forms which confirm to your conveyancer a) how you would like to hold the property; b) the Land Registry TR1 form to transfer ownership on completion; and c) a checklist to confirm that you have understood any relevant covenants or restrictions affecting the property you want to buy. The Contract looks and is quite formal, but your signing of it in advance simply means that when all parties are ready, your conveyancer won’t have to ask you at the last minute to sign up.
You will know when the exchange happens because your conveyancer will first ask you for your authority to proceed. Once they have this, they will alert the other parties in the chain, including the estate agent, so that word can get to everyone, and they can set about getting their clients’ authority too.
When everyone is ready, a chain of phone calls occurs in order from the bottom of the chain (i.e. the initial buyer starting it off) to the top of the chain (the person with nothing to sell or no onward purchase).
Each set of conveyancers agrees the contract details and terms with their counterpart, and the contract is dated. Once the whole chain has exchanged, everyone is legally tied in to proceed with their purchases. It is then a great time to book in your removal firm.
The completion date is the day when the purchase funds are actually transferred to the seller. Your conveyancer will keep you updated on progress, and advise when you can collect the keys to your new home.
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