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How long do solicitors take to exchange contracts?

On average, the exchange of contracts for a property purchase in the UK takes six-eight weeks. However, the conveyancing process can be longer or shorter depending on the complexity of the purchase.

When do I exchange contracts?

Exchange usually takes place seven to 28 days before completion, although it is possible to exchange and complete on the same day.

How do I exchange contracts?

Unless you’re doing the conveyancing yourself, your solicitor or conveyancer will exchange contracts on your behalf. Once contracts are exchanged, you legally commit to buying the property so you need to check that:

• Relevant searches have been undertaken
• Your mortgage offer is in place
• Your offer has been accepted
• You’ve organised building insurance to cover the period between exchange and completion
• You’ve agreed on a completion date

How can I speed up the process?

• Choose a qualified solicitor who can deal with any complexities in the process quickly and easily
• Choose an online conveyancing service so you can access all documentation online
• Have a mortgage offer in place before you commit to buying a property
• Make sure you have relevant and up-to-date paperwork including passport and payslips plus a P60, or that you have your digital SA302 if you’re self-employed. You’ll also need copies of any planning permissions and guarantees to speed up the process and to fill in any paperwork as quickly as possible.
• Keep in regular contact with your conveyancer to check on progress
• Avoid being part of a property chain if possible

How are contracts exchanged?

Unless you’re doing the conveyancing yourself, the conveyancers for the buyer and seller will exchange contracts by phone. If you’re in a chain, the contracts will only be released when everyone in the chain is happy to go ahead. Once you’ve exchanged you’re in a legally binding contract and you may lose your deposit if you pull out.

What happens next?

If you’ve exchanged and completed on the same day, you can now move into your new property. Otherwise, the average time to completion is one-two weeks for a freehold property and one-two months for a leasehold.

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