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What happens once your offer gets accepted? Your timeline to buying a property

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

Firstly, congratulations are in order! After all that searching, you’ve finally bagged the one.

There are quite a few steps on your homebuying journey before you finally get those keys, but if you’re using a Beewise mortgage advisor they’ll talk you through each stage, helping as you go.

Everyone’s checklist for buying a property will look different, which is why we’re on hand throughout. To speak to your local Beewise advisor today, call 01934 204 841 or email to arrange a chat.

And, for a handy checklist of the main milestones, and answers to your questions around what happens once your offer gets accepted, read on!

We’ll cover how long it could take from offer to owning your home, the difference between exchange and completion, what happens if the valuation is lower than your purchase price, and more.

Next steps with the estate agents

If you’re using a Beewise advisor, we’ll liaise with the estate agents on your behalf, sending over ID, your mortgage in principal, details of your deposit , and we’ll recommend a conveyancing firm to carry out the legal work.

Choosing a solicitor that offers great service (as well as being budget-friendly!) should be your priority when it comes to homebuying.

One of the biggest frustrations for buyers can be lack of communication once your offer’s been accepted. But, we only work with legal firms that are customer-focused, so we know they’ll keep you regularly updated along the way.

Plus your Beewise advisor can help chase your conveyancers on your behalf, and help out with completing their paperwork.

Once the estate agents have the information they need from you and the seller, they’ll issue the memorandum of sale.

A memorandum of sale is written evidence your offer’s been accepted. It confirms the amount of the offer, the buyer and seller’s details, and solicitors’ details for both parties.

Although the memorandum of sale is a contract, it's not legally binding. At this stage, and until exchange of contracts (more on this later!) a seller or buyer can still lawfully pull out of the sale.

Once your offer’s been accepted, the estate agents will usually mark the property online as Under Offer, or Sold STC (subject to contract).

Instructing the solicitors

As mentioned, your Beewise advisor can recommend a trustworthy conveyancer, and help you work with them throughout.

Once they’ve been instructed you’ll receive paperwork through to complete, and you’ll also need to pay an initial fee to the solicitors – around £300 – to cover the some of the upfront costs for searches.

This payment is then deducted from the amount owed to the solicitors on completion of the sale.

We’ll share more on what a solicitor or conveyancer does, and how long they’ll take, further on.

Submitting your mortgage application

Now you’ve had your offer accepted and started the legal work, it’s time to make that mortgage in principle official.

First, your Beewise advisor will confirm the mortgage specifics with you. During this chat, you’ll decide everything they need to source the most suitable mortgage for you.

This includes your deposit amount, how long we’ll fix the mortgage for, your monthly payments, what type of survey you’ll want – scroll down for more on this! – and more.

We’ll also discuss your protection options and get an idea of what level of cover is right for your needs.

Life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection are all key to making sure you can pay your bills in the event of a serious illness, long term sickness or an accident. After all, once you’re in your home, we want to keep you there!

Once your advisor has all the information they need, they’ll arrange an appointment get the mortgage submitted and process any other paperwork needed for you.

This usually takes around an hour and a half, and involves your Beewise advisor explaining the details of your mortgage deal in a jargon-free, easy to understand way.

Even though you can be confident your advisor will choose the most suitable mortgage, we still want you to be happy before we secure that rate with your lender!

How long does it take to get your mortgage offer?

Depending on a lender’s timescales, it can take anywhere from a day to a month for your mortgage offer to be issued. This is their formal acceptance of your mortgage, and means they’re happy to lend you the money you need.

During this time, they’ll check through the information your Beewise advisor submits on your behalf and instruct a basic valuation on the property.

This valuation is for the lender’s benefit only, and confirms the property is suitable security for the mortgage loan. They’ll want it to tick several boxes; be in a habitable condition, use a construction method that fits their criteria, in an area they view as acceptable and more.

All these aspects will influence whether they think it’s worth the purchase price, and whether they’re happy to lend money against it.

Different lenders have different criteria around property valuations, but if you’re using a Beewise advisor, we’ll put you with the best fit for the type of home you’re buying.

And, if your valuation comes back lower than the price agreed, or the lender declines the mortgage altogether, we’ll be on hand to guide you through the next steps.

If this has happened to you, call 01934 204 841 or email your local Beewise advisor, and we can help you out!

Getting a property survey that suits you

Some people will be happy with the lender’s basic valuation, especially if it’s a newer property and still under a building warranty.

Or, they might have friends or family members in the surveying or building trade they can take with them for a viewing, looking out for potential issues like damp, leaks or structural damage.

If you don’t feel confident doing this, don’t worry – a surveyor can do this on your behalf and report back with their findings.

Your local Beewise mortgage advisor will advise on property survey options once your offer’s accepted, so you can access expert advice before you commit to buying if need be.

Depending on the property type and age, you can upgrade to a more in-depth Homebuyers Survey, or a full Buildings Survey. These give you a clearer picture of the property’s condition, with the level of detail depending on which survey you choose.

A common question people ask is: “What happens if the survey comes back worse than expected, or reveals expensive work that needs to be done?”

Well, that’s a positive thing, as it means you were right to upgrade your survey! Depending on the results you can decide whether the work is within your budget, and if you’re happy to take it on.

From there, you could potentially renegotiate the purchase price via the estate agents – something your Beewise advisor can assist with. Or, worst case scenario, you could decide not to go ahead with the purchase.

This doesn’t often happen, but sometimes clients can feel this is the right choice. We’ll be there with help and advice in those situations though, so you won’t have to make the decision alone.

What do solicitors do when you’re buying a property?

While your mortgage is being processed and a survey carried out, the solicitors are working away in the background, handling all the legal aspects of transferring ownership.

First, they review the initial contract from the seller’s solicitors and see what needs to be queried further, then they carry out local authority, environmental, water and drainage searches.

These flag planning proposals for new roads or rail schemes, planning regulation breaches on the home you’re buying, if the surrounding land is contaminated or built over an old mine, whether you’re obliged to pay for local church repairs, and more!

Searches usually take 2 or 3 weeks to come back, but others can be up to 6 weeks, particularly if they’re complicated or the local authority is busy. It’s a good idea to pay your initial fee quickly so they can request these as soon as possible.

Solicitors also obtain and review a fittings and contents form from the seller, and a property information form with details such as boundaries, past building work, planning permission, parking facilities, and ongoing disputes with neighbours.

If you’re selling a property you’ll need to complete these forms too, so the solicitors can pass this information onto your buyer’s solicitors.

And, if you’re purchasing a leasehold property – generally a flat – they’ll need to review the lease, and the management pack if the building is managed by a third party.

If you do get a Homebuyers or Building survey, you may want to forward the report onto the solicitor too, flagging any queries so they can ask the sellers directly.

How long does it take to buy a home?

Buying a house or flat can be a long process due to the time it takes for those searches to come in, for paperwork to be sent from other solicitors, and for all solicitors involved to go back and forth on any queries.

It’s not unusual for completion to take around 6 months, especially if you’re relying on other people buying and selling, or if other issues come up along the way.

But it could be quicker, and may only take 3 or 4 months to buy your property if everything’s fairly straightforward.

Once the solicitors are satisfied with their checks, have made sure you’re happy with everything, and have all necessary paperwork on file, it’s time to talk moving dates!

What’s the difference between exchange and completion?

There are two stages to officially owning your home, exchange and completion. Once everyone in the chain – those who have a sale or purchase linked to the home you’re buying – agree a date for the sale to complete, your solicitor can then set up the first stage, exchange.

First they’ll ask for you to transfer across your deposit funds so they have these on file. If any part of your deposit is gifted, or you have an Help to Buy ISA, your solicitors will advise on how to sort this.

They’ll also usually ask you to sign the contract for exchange in advance so they have this ready.

Once the solicitor has the deposit and contract in place, they’ll liaise with the seller’s solicitors and anyone else in the chain, as all parties need to exchange within a set timeframe.

Exchange starts at the bottom of the chain, works its way to the top, and once everyone is done, the agreed completion date is set in stone and the sale is legally binding.

Your solicitor will then send your final bill for any remaining fees outstanding, and this will need to be paid ready for completion – the day the sale finally completes.

Depending on your situation, exchange and completion can happen separately, usually a week apart, or on the same day.

Some people like the security of knowing they’re exchanged early so they can confidently book removals, or arrange other necessities.

If you’re renting, you may also want to consider a completion date further ahead so you can give notice on your current property. But, your local Beewise advisor will be on hand to advise at this stage too.

What happens on completion day?

Your Beewise advisor will check in with the solicitors prior to completion to make sure everything’s on track, and keep you updated on the day.

On the morning of completion, the solicitors in the property chain will again liaise with each other, making sure all parties are ready.

The solicitor at the bottom of the buying chain will then transfer the deposit and mortgage money to their seller’s solicitor, and once those solicitors receive it they’ll transfer their own funds onwards.

As each seller’s solicitor receives the required funds, the sale will officially complete, and they’ll let the estate agents know to release the property’s keys.

At this point, it’s yours to move into – congratulations! And hopefully, the whole process will be much less stressful than it could have been, thanks to your Beewise advisor.

There are so many aspects to buying and selling, and even if you’ve done it before, we’d still recommend using Beewise.

Unlike other mortgage advisors, we’re on hand from start to finish, supporting and advising you throughout. So, if you’re looking for a hassle-free mortgage and moving experience, contact us today!

To get in touch with your local Beewise advisor, ring our office on 01934 204 841 or email to arrange a call, with evening and weekend appointments available. And, check out our 240+ 5 star Google reviews! Voted Best Mortgage Office in the UK 2022, you’re in safe hands with Beewise FS Ltd.

Looking for more expert mortgage advice? Check out these other helpful blog posts!

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