Dear Barry

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So we're now on to the second stage of the conveyancing process. If you are new around these parts, might I recommend heading back and reading:

  1. The intro article
  2. Articles on how much conveyancing costs and how long it takes
  3. The most recent article on Title Deeds & Contract

So now everyone's on the same page, let's move on from where we left off last month; we had just got to the stage where we were talking about that all-important contract.

Stage two: Contract and Offer



Agreeing contract terms.



Receiving offer to purchase from the other side.

Now, as with any legal process, conveyancing doesn't necessarily follow a smooth line from point A to point B to point C. There can be steps forward, steps back and steps sideways, and this stage of the process is a good example of this.

The solicitors for both parties, as discussed in the previous article, will examine the title deeds and a contract will be prepared. While examining the title deeds, the solicitor for the buyer may raise queries or request certain clarifications or items of evidence. These are known as enquiries before contract.

Because we are breaking down the process step by step, I will deal with enquiries on contract in more detail in a later article. (My August Industry Information article, to be precise!)

But for the purposes of clarity, we assume at this stage that things have gone smoothly - call it the best case scenario if you will. August's article will go into a little more detail on what to expect if there is anything to iron out before the purchase can progress.

So, we're in the sunlit uplands of The Best Case Scenario - either everything with the house is tickety boo, or all issues have been raised and dealt with. The buyer's solicitor will, at this stage, get the client to sign the contract papers - including your mortgage deed. The solicitor needs to be able to confirm at this stage that the buyer has a mortgage in place.

A timely reminder, if needed, as to how important it is to have a good mortgage broker on your team and to have an Agreement in Principle before you go househunting. It makes this part of the process so much simpler if a) your finance is in place and b) your solicitor, your mortgage broker and the estate agent are working in harmony and communicating easily.

If a buyer's solicitor is able to confirm that, yes, they have a mortgage agreed in principle, they can give a fairly accurate estimate of the completion date at a much earlier stage - making the process smoother for everyone.

If you're the buyer, you will need to have your buildings insurance in place at this stage for your new property. 

Once the vendor's solicitor receives the offer to purchase and contracts are exchanged, both parties are legally bound to the deal. If either side reneges on this legal agreement, the other will be entitled to claim compensation for breach of contract.

There are many things that can prove to choke points at this stage - most house purchases are part of a chain; in order words, the party buying one property is usually in the process of selling (or trying to sell!) another. In which case, the buyer often cannot commit to the purchase of a new property until they are sure they have sold their existing one.

Some delays are unavoidable, but the key to making things run as quickly and easily as possible is - and I know I'm repeating myself here - communication. Make sure your estate agent, conveyancer and mortgage broker are all talking to each other - and to you! 

Next month we'll take a look at those all-important deposits.


What do you think of the Conveyancing series so far? Is it answering your questions? Is it raising new ones? Is there anything you need me to dig into a little more deeply or explain differently?

Join the conversation over on my social media, or drop me a line via email - the links for all of these are in the top right-hand corner of this screen. Get in touch about this article, or indeed any Belfast property questions you might have - I am always happy to help.