Step by Step Guide to Buying and Selling a House

Thinking of moving home? Buying or selling? Just make sure you don't miss any details as the smallest mistake can prove costly down the line. Both selling and buying a house can be a complex and stressful process at times, which is compounded if you're unsure what is going on at any stage or where things are up to.

Simple mistakes such as forgetting to fill out stamp duty forms on time and not reading the fine print on a contract can mean the difference between a smooth transition and a bad experience. This is why you need to trust a law firm who has your best interests at heart.

We love explaining the 'small print' to our clients because it means they understand everything about their transaction and move forward with confidence.

Whether you're a first home buyer or seasoned investor - it's important to remember a few key steps on your climb up the property ladder.

Step by step process of selling a house

This guide to selling a house begins at the point that you accept an offer on your property. Before this, you will usually have put your house on the market with an estate agent, although you may have instead sold it privately. Regardless of how the property has been marketed or sold to this point, the house selling guide steps will then include:

  • Instruct solicitor

  • House deeds obtained

  • Draft contract submitted to buyer's solicitor with other relevant information

  • Contract signed by sellers and buyers

  • Contracts exchanged, deposit paid and completion date agreed

  • On completion the buyer pays the balance of the purchase price to the seller's solicitor who hands over the house deeds and the keys are released to the buyer

What is the homebuying process step by step?

What is the homebuying process step by step?

The step-by-step guide to buying a house begins as soon as you've had an offer accepted on a property. The next steps are:

  • Instruct solicitor

  • Make mortgage application

  • Arrange survey/valuation

  • Searches carried out and enquiries raised

  • Draft contract received and information regarding the property checked

  • Contract signed by sellers and buyers

  • Contracts exchanged, deposit paid and completion date agreed

  • On completion the buyer pays the balance of the purchase price to the seller's solicitor who hands over the house deeds and the keys are released to the buyer

  • Stamp duty paid if applicable and the land registry is notified of the new owners' details.

At Forbes, we understand how stressful buying or selling a house can be. The last thing you need to be worrying about is if you've failed to understand any of the finer points on your contract or even if you're getting a good deal.

The consequences of missing any detail, when buying or selling property could prove to be a costly mistake. This is why it's essential to put your trust in a firm who never cut corners and offer a comprehensive service. We aim to make your transaction as smooth as possible by worrying about all the 'small print' on your behalf.

Simply put, we're here to help you.

So whether you're buying or selling a home, contact Forbes Solicitors today and make sure your best interests are protected.

Call us today on 0800 689 1358 or call into any of our offices in Accrington (by appointment only), Blackburn and Preston for expert and above all friendly advice on buying your home.


How does selling and buying a house work?

It's often possible to sell your existing property and buy a new one on the same day, as long as both transactions are prepared properly beforehand and there are no last-minute issues with either of the properties in terms of fund transfers, mortgage or paperwork problems.

It works because the buyer of your property will essentially pay you a deposit on exchange of contracts that you can use to pay part or all of your own new deposit on your next home.

When you complete on both purchases (on the same day), your mortgage lender is repaid by the buyer's funds, which means your new lender (or new mortgage agreement if staying with the same lender) can go ahead.

Is it better to sell a house before buying?

Selling a house before buying a new one will generally put you in a stronger position when it comes to buying your new home and you are more likely to have an offer accepted if you are in a position to proceed immediately because you have already sold your existing property.

However, this may mean that you are under pressure to buy your new property quickly so that you don't end up without somewhere to live once the sale of your existing home goes through. Some people choose to move into rented accommodation or move in with family or friends in the interim if there is a gap between selling and buying.

How do you buy a house before selling yours?

Buying a house before selling your existing property may be possible in some circumstances, as long as you have the necessary funds or income to support your mortgage lender's affordability criteria for having two properties at the same time until yours can be sold.

Some people choose to make offers on properties before selling their current home, but this is usually only advised when you are sure that your existing property will sell quickly. You may find that the seller of the property you want to buy will only accept an offer from you when you are in a position to proceed, which may mean you need to sell your home first.

If you have no mortgage secured on your existing property, have the necessary funds for a deposit for the new one and a mortgage in principle agreed, you should be fine to proceed with buying a new house before selling your current one.

What do I need to do to buy and sell a house at the same time?

In order to buy and sell a house at the same time, you'll need to ensure:

  • You have an accurate valuation of the property you're selling

  • You have considered the finances of what is needed e.g. whether the deposit you will receive when selling will pay for your new deposit on the next property; if not, where will the additional funds come from or have you spoken to your mortgage lender about making arrangements for this?

  • You have a mortgage agreement in principle for the new property or have confirmed with your lender that you can port your mortgage to your new home

Once you have accepted an offer on your current property, you will need to:

  • Instruct a conveyancing solicitor to help with the legal aspects of your property sale and the legal aspects of also purchasing your new property

  • Have an offer accepted on a new property

  • Have any necessary surveys done on the new property

  • Exchange contracts on both the property you're selling and the one you are buying; preferably on the same day to assist with the deposit for the new home

  • Set a completion date - usually the same day for both properties

  • Organise the move for the day you complete, leaving time to vacate your current property for the buyer and move your belongings to the new one

How long does it take to buy a house from start to finish?

The amount of time it takes to buy a house will vary widely, depending on a lot of different variables such as the seller's responsiveness and whether all of the required documents, forms, searches and other legal requirements can be carried out and completed as quickly as possible. Most house purchases take between 6-12 weeks but can take much longer.

Our expert conveyancing team can assist with your property purchase or sale. Get in touch to find out more.

Our dedicated Residential Conveyancing team

Michelle Thompson.jpg

Partner, Residential Conveyancing

Michelle Thompson


Associate, Residential Conveyancing

Jennifer Ross

Kathryn Lofthouse.jpg

Paralegal, Residential Conveyancing

Kathryn Lofthouse


Paralegal, Residential Conveyancing

Hayley Nikandrou

Contact Us

If you have an enquiry then please fill in your details and someone will contact you.

0800 689 1358 - Monday - Friday: 09:00 - 17:00

Request a call back

By submitting your enquiry you agree that Forbes can contact you.

© 2024 Forbes Solicitors is the trading name of Forbes Solicitors LLP Offices in Preston, Manchester, Salford, Blackburn, Blackpool, London and Leeds UK Main Office: Rutherford House, 4 Wellington Street (St Johns), Blackburn, Lancashire, BB1 8DD • Vat No: 174 394 344 Forbes Solicitors is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA No. 816356). Details of the SRA’s Standards and Regulations can be found here. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

This website has implemented reCAPTCHA v3 and your use of reCAPTCHA v3 is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.