Exchange of contracts

When moving house you cannot exchange contracts on your new home until you have exchanged contracts on your existing property.

To exchange contracts you need to appoint a solicitor who will do the legal work involved.

To exchange contracts on the property you are selling, your solicitor will:

  • Release details of the deeds to your buyer’s solicitors
  • Answer any questions the buyer's solicitors may ask about your property
  • Draw up a contract of sale for you to sign
  • Exchange the contract on your behalf
  • Receive the deposit from the buyers solicitor

To exchange contracts on the property you wish to buy your solicitor will:

  • Check the lease or deeds of the property you wish to buy
  • Arrange a search to check road or building planning permissions that would affect the property
  • Ask legal questions about the property to the seller's solicitors to protect you before buying it
  • Prepare the contracts to purchase for your signature
  • Pay the seller’s solicitor your deposit


  • Once you have exchanged contracts there is no going back, if the process falls through you will lose your deposit
  • All parties will be legally committed to completing the sale, backing out may incur legal action as well as high costs
  • Therefore, before exchanging make sure your mortgage is confirmed, you have the deposit, you have buildings insurance in place and you are happy with the contract
  • It is not advisable to go on holiday, you may be needed to sign documents or answer solicitors' questions