England and Wales

Definition: Noun, the legal process of transferring property from one owner to another.

The process

Very simply, buyers 'offer' to buy a property. That means they offer a price (usually something below the asking price) which the seller then accepts, or negotiates an increase. But once an offer has been accepted, the property goes 'under offer'. That means the property should be removed from the market.

You should then give the estate agent/seller of the property the details of your solicitor who you should have appointed or ask your solicitor to contact the estate agent/seller of the property.

You should also have begun the mortgage process, if necessary, which will include the mortgage lender instructing a surveyor to inspect the property.

You need from your solicitor:

- Details of his fees

- Details of other sums, known as disbursements, such as stamp duty, land registry fees and local search fees which will find out if there are any roads, for example, to be constructed within the vicinity of your property

Both parties' solicitors will then make contact. During this period your solicitor will check the person purporting to sell the property does indeed own the property (the title) and carry out the other checks.

Just because the seller has agreed your offer it is not legally binding and there is still the chanced of being gazumped. Gazumping is when the seller, despite agreeing to an offer made by a buyer, then accepts a higher offer from some one else.

It is only when an "exchange of contracts" takes place that the seller and buyer are legally bound to the sale. If one party withdraws after this they will in all probability be liable to pay damages to the other party.

Then a date is set for completion. This is the date when the seller "moves out" and you can "move in"

Further information on these and other matters can be found at:

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