The offer

Once you've found a property that matches your criteria, make an offer. The estate agent will inform the seller. Offering to put down a deposit as an act of good faith can significantly increase the chances of your offer being accepted.

Make sure your offer is subject to survey and contract meaning that you are not obliged to proceed until the conclusion of the survey and the exchange of signed contracts. We would seriously recommend that you do not get involved in bidding wars for a property.
If you're emotionally attached to a property there is a chance that someone else is too, and it is all too easy to spend over-the-odds for a property in those circumstances.

The offer is accepted

If your offer is accepted, it is time to get the whole legal and financial process moving. If you have not yet arranged a mortgage, do it now. See our guide to mortgages for help deciding on which mortgage is right for you.
Arrange for a survey of the property (usually your lender will carry out a survey which you pay for but this is for valuation purposes only and will not examine the structure and general state of the house).

Find a solicitor

You need to find a solicitor to conduct the conveyancing. This means checking the legal aspects of the sale, for example that the seller has the legal right to sell the property, that no one has right of way over it and that there are no land disputes. Your solicitor will also carry out a local authority search which looks for planning proposals such as new roads, changes to road layouts, building developments in the vicinity and alterations to land use or public rights of way which might affect your chosen property.
Check out our legal centre for advice and information on the legal side of housebuying.

Exchange contracts

Once all the legal arrangements have been undertaken, your mortgage has been agreed and you have had a positive survey (if the survey indicates a lot of work needs doing, be prepared to negotiate with the seller) you will be ready to exchange contracts.
This will be done by the lawyers acting for you and the seller and once contracts have been exchanged, both of you are committed to the deal. If for any reason, you pull out, you will lose your deposit. Conversely, the seller is bound to sell the property to you and cannot accept a higher offer.
This is also when the completion date - when you get the keys and can move in - is set.

Arrange completion date and move in

You've exchanged contracts and are getting ready to move. Use our guide to moving to see what you should be doing and when. You can also get quotes for removals and storage. Make sure you have arranged the necessary insurance for your new home.

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