North Devon Coast

Exchanging Contracts

A common question is “How do I exchange contracts on a house?”. Exchanging contracts isn’t anything to stress about, and as the buyer there is not much you can do, except appoint a competent solicitor to ensure everything runs smoothly.

This stage is usually managed by conveyancers or solicitors who will be acting on behalf of the seller and buyer.

A contract will then be written up and your solicitor will be able to ensure the correct purchase price is agreed, and  clearly state what is included in your property purchase. The size of the property, boundary lines and whether certain items of furniture are included. The contract will also include a date for when the sale will be completed.

Once the terms have been agreed both sides will exchange contracts and this will legally bind themselves to go ahead with the sale. The completion date will then be set and the new owner will be added to the land registry.

Remember, when the time comes to exchange contracts, the buyer must put down a deposit. This will often be 10% of the purchase price or more, so make sure you are prepared to do so.

It is important to know that if you pull out of the sale after this stage, you will have to forfeit your deposit, and if the seller pulls out the you will be entitled to sue them for compensation.


As a buyer you will have many responsibilities, this includes the buildings insurance between now and completion. You should make sure your contract states who has to arrange this.

This timeframe can be anything from a day, as per the law society standard conditions of sale; 5th Edition, to a week or a few months. This all depends on whether the sellers are in a chain or how long it could take to build your property, if you were purchasing a new build.

It is crucially important to get cover in place immediately after the exchange. If you have any problems, such as your house falling down, then your seller’s policy may not cover you.


When going through the process there is no doubt that you will want to move into your new property as soon as possible. However, it takes typically between 7-28 days between the exchange and completion. If you are looking to move quickly, it is recommended that you get a solicitors or conveyancer early on in the buying process. This should work in your favour, as it won’t just make things move quicker but also demonstrates your serious intent for the purchase.

Second thoughts?

Once the contracts have been signed it can be very difficult for the buyer to back out of the sale. So, before signing anything, you should be certain that you want to proceed. You will be legally bound to buy the property once the contracts are exchanged.

If you do fail to complete the sale, the seller may serve you with a notice stating that you will not only have to complete the property, but you may also have to pay for the seller’s additional legal costs, any damages for the delay and even any interest on the unpaid purchase price.


It is the big day, by this time your solicitor will have finalised a completion date and all the paperwork will be done and dusted. You will then be able to pick the keys up from the agents and start your new adventure.

Unfortunately there will be a few fees to pay, like stamp duty, this is based on the price of the property. Transfer your internet providers and make sure you let everyone know that you have changed address.

We have a great range of properties for sale in Devon and are here to assist you if you have any questions.