Buying a Home: The Process

The information in this section of CSK is supplementary. Trainers are often faced with questions around purchasing property although it is not directly related to any course specific material at this time. You will not be assessed on the home buying process within your CSK assessments.

This page contains a typical timeline for a purchase in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Timescales vary depending on the circumstances of those in the chain (the buyer’s and seller’s), plus conveyancing (legal) problems can arise and add delays: 

Step 1: From mortgage in principle to putting in an offer

Time usually taken:6 weeks – 8 months

 How much can you borrow: A mortgage in principle must be agreed first. This can usually be done online. This document is usually valid for 30 – 90 days, it is NOT a guarantee of             a mortgage, it just shows what you could POTENTIALLY be able to borrow, giving you guidance when looking for your new home. Some estate agents                                                             ask you to have a MIP before they will show you around any properties. 

Other costs: It’s important to remember to budget for other costs such as surveys, legal fees, fixtures and fittings and extras with your property i.e. Leasehold properties may have a service charge or ground rent costs to consider. These costs are not included in the money offered to you from your mortgage provider and are usually paid upon completion of the property although some deposits and funds may be required sooner.

Find a property: Research the area, scour estate agents and search websites. 

Put in an offer: Tell the seller what you’re willing to pay and any conditions. This is usually done over the phone or via email with the sellers estate agent.

Step 2: From offer accepted to exchange

Time usually taken: 4 – 12 weeks 

Offer accepted:  At this stage this mortgage must be confirmed with your mortgage provider, you should also arrange insurance on the property and relevant life insurance. You should contact them as soon as an offer has been accepted to ensure you can secure the funds. You then get a survey to check the property’s condition. Your solicitor checks any legal issues and will carry out searches of the surrounding area, these might include things like land registry searchesenvironmental searcheslocal authority searches and chancel repair searches.

Exchange: You pay your deposit and exchange legally binding contracts to say that you will buy/ sell the property. At this point, if any part of the chain were to pull out there would be financial implications i.e. losing your deposit. Your deposit must be transferred to your solicitor at the point of exchange. By this point, you should have agreed with your sellers if they are going to leave any items and would have had search results back to tell you if there is any major repair work needed on your property or local issues that you should be aware of. It is at exchange that you set a legally binding date for completion- the date you will receive the keys and the old owners will vacate. 

Important: Nobody is legally bound to complete the deal until exchange of contracts. 

Step 3: Completion and move in

Time usually taken: Instantly- 4 weeks

Completion: You hand over the rest of the cash in exchange for the keys and deeds, you should have made your mortgage provider aware of your completion date so that they can prepare the funds. The property is now legally yours. Sometimes exchange and completion happen on the same day although some mortgage providers need a week to 10 days to ensure funds are prepared and released. 


For more informaton on this process visit: