Guide

Buying a home: the legal process

Last updated: 9 October 2017

Making an offer

If you find a home you're interested in buying and are happy with its Home Report, tell your solicitor.

Your solicitor will then formally 'note' your interest with the seller.

If a number of people note their interest, the seller will set a closing date for offers to be made. This will give you time to arrange your finances so you can buy it.

If there's no closing date set, this could mean nobody else has noted their interest. Instead of making an offer, you might be able to negotiate a price with the seller.

If you decide to make an offer, it should include:

  • a brief description of the home you want to make an offer on
  • the date you want to collect the keys and move in
  • the price you want to pay for it
  • any items you want to buy from the seller
  • any other conditions you have

Missives

Your offer must be sent as a letter from your solicitor. The seller will then consider the offer.

If they agree to sell their home to you, their solicitor will send you a letter called a 'qualified acceptance', which means they accept the offer depending on certain conditions.

The seller's solicitor and your solicitor will then send each other letters negotiating these conditions. These letters are called 'missives'.

Once the missives are accepted and both you and the seller agree on the terms, you have a binding contract.

If you try to pull out of the deal any time after this, you will be liable to pay the seller thousands of pounds in damages. Be sure you definitely want the home before asking your solicitor to start sending missives.

It's up to you to make sure the home is insured from the date the missives are accepted, not the date you move in. If something happens to the home between the contract being agreed and you moving in, it's your responsibility.

Buying a home: the legal process
Making an offer