A step by step guide

Your Property Lawyer is key to making your dream home a reality.

Step 1: Research the Market

Look online; visit Estate Agents; ask your friends. It is important to get an idea of what you are looking for so that you can then set your budget. Once you have an idea of what you are looking for is it affordable?

Step 2: Arrange an appointment with your Mortgage Advisor

You don’t need to have a specific house in mind only an idea of the likely cost of the house you would like to own from your research. Your mortgage advisor will go through all the costs and expenses of owning your own home. This will allow you to set a realistic budget.

Step 3: Place an Offer

When you have found a house within your budget then make an offer. The Estate Agent should help you through this process. When you place an offer it is then time to contact your Property Lawyer.

Step 4: Instruct your Property Lawyer

The earlier you instruct your Property Lawyer the better so that you are ready to act when your offer is accepted by the seller and the sale is agreed.

Step 5: Sale Agreed with the Estate Agent

**WARNING** sale agreed is simply an agreement in principle. When the seller accepts your offer this is NOT a binding contract; it is the starting point to progressing to the formal contract stage. The Estate Agent will provide a Sales Advice Note to both the seller’s and your Property Lawyer. On receipt of the Sales Advice Note your Property Lawyer will request the contract and title documentation in relation to your new ‘home to be’ from the seller’s Property Lawyer and provide you with a written quotation of the conveyancing costs. Your Property Lawyer will also provide you with information setting out the legal process. The timescale from sale agreed to actual completion (when you can move into your new home) can take up to 8 weeks this is dependent on many factors. If you are applying for a mortgage it is now time to get your mortgage in place, you will need to revisit your mortgage advisor. If you are not getting a mortgage it is time to ensure your finance is in place.

Step 6: Mortgage Application

Your mortgage advisor will go through a formal mortgage application with you which will include a valuation of your new ‘home to be’. When this process is complete your mortgage offer will issue. This can take up to 6 weeks. The mortgage offer will be sent directly to your Property Lawyer and you.

Step 7: Contract and Title Documents Received

Your Property Lawyer is responsible for ensuring that the title to your new home is in order. On receipt of title documentation your Property Lawyer will investigate the title and raise any queries that arise with the seller’s Property Lawyer. This could take up to 4-6 weeks depending on the queries that may arise in the investigation process. A fixtures and fittings list is also received that will be sent to you for agreement.

Step 8: Meet with you Solicitor

Once your Property Lawyer has approved the title to your new ‘home to be’ and all queries have been satisfied it is time to sit down and have a chat with your Property Lawyer. Your Property Lawyer will go through all the legal documents. This is the time for you to ask any questions you may have. If you Property Lawyer is satisfied that all is in order then it is time to sign the contract for your new ‘home to be’ this is called your offer to purchase. The contract may be subject to conditions that are required due to matters that have arisen in the title investigation process or if you are obtaining a mortgage. The contract will then be sent to the seller’s Property Lawyer for the seller to sign. Only when the seller has signed the contract and a copy returned to your Property Lawyer will a legally binding contract be in place. If you are obtaining a mortgage and your mortgage offer has been received you will also sign your mortgage deeds at this stage.

Step 9: The conveyancing process

A contract is often signed subject to conditions this can be a requirement that documents must be provided or remedial works actioned before completion can take place. Usually a completion date is inserted in the contract as a guide to focus matters; a completion date cannot be confirmed until all matters have been done to your Property Lawyer’s satisfaction only then can monies be requested and a completion date agreed.

Step 10: Completion and keys to your new house

It is time to get the keys. Completion usually takes place at noon on the agreed day the keys are normally released to you from the Estate Agent.

Step 11: Land Registration

Your Property Lawyer will attend to all post completion legalities which include registering you as owner of your new home and registering your mortgage in the Land Registry of Northern Ireland. You will receive notification when registration has completed.

Step 12: Enjoying your new home.

The process is now completed and you can enjoy your new home. You may wish to give thought to making a Will now that you own your home. This guide is not intended to provide a conclusive guide to the conveyancing process. Your solicitor will advise you as to each step and other considerations which may be applicable at that time.