Buying a new home - the legal steps

Are you excited about buying a new home but confused about what happens once you've made an offer? 

This handy guide takes you through the practicalities and legal steps you will go through when buying your new home.


Topics covered in this guide:

  • How we can help you buy a home
  • What does a conveyancer or solicitor do? 
  • What do you need to organise? 
  • What is Exchange of Contracts? 
  • What happens between Exchange of Contracts and Legal Completion?
  • What is Legal Completion?

If you would like to know more about mortgages please take a look at our guide to Applying for a Mortgage.

How we can help you buy a new home

Taylor Wimpey sales executive talking with two customers

We’re here to make things easier for you. We understand that buying a home is one of the most important financial decisions you are ever likely to make. We aim to not only to give you a quality new home, but also to make buying it as simple as possible. And we back this up with our great customer and after-sales service.

Our Customer Service Charter sets out how we will help you throughout your move and after you’ve moved in. We will give you:

  • detailed information about the home you are buying and guidance on how you can personalise your home;
  • your copy of our 'From house to home' guide which provides explanations of all the steps involved in buying a new home, moving in, maintaining your new home, and details of warranties, guarantees and our after sales service;
  • an invitation to meet the Site Manager who is responsible for building your new home, so you can ask whatever questions you may have;
  • regular updates on progress with building of your home and when it will be ready;
  • a tour of your new home before you move in so we can show you how everything works;
  • full details of our two-year Taylor Wimpey Warranty, along with the NHBC 10 Year Warranty; 
  • and advice on Health and Safety when visiting the development and once you have moved in.

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What does a conveyancer or solicitor do?

It is possible for you to handle the process of buying your home yourself. However, it is complicated and without expert knowledge and experience there is the risk that you may get something wrong. Most people use a conveyancer or solicitor to do all of the necessary work for them. 

Conveyancing is the legal transfer of ownership of a property (in this case a new home from us to you) and it is usually done by solicitors or licensed conveyancers. It can involve: 

  • carrying out local authority and Land Registry searches; 
  • organising property surveys (although your mortgage lender may do this for you); 
  • and exchanging contracts and legally completing the sale.

Which solicitor or conveyancer should you use?

Using a solicitor or conveyancer that someone has recommended will give you confidence that they will do a good job. We work with a panel of experienced solicitors and if you buy a new build home from us we will recommend a local one to you.

How long does the legal side of buying a home take? 


The legalities can take a long time. From when an offer to buy the home is accepted until the exchange of contracts can take roughly seven weeks. And from exchange of contracts to legal completion can take up to four more weeks. 

If you are buying an older home, this is the time that the sale can fall through because the chain of people buying and selling homes fails somewhere along the line. One of the key benefits of buying a new home, especially if you are a first time buyer, is that you do not need to rely on such a property chain – it’s just you and us! We also offer Part Exchange if you have a home to sell, which removes the potential risks associated with a long property chain. 

Do I need to work with the solicitor? 

Most solicitors are professional and will do a great job. Even so, we suggest you stay in regular e-mail and telephone contact with your solicitor to make sure your purchase is moving along quickly and smoothly.

There are also a few things that you, as a buyer, will need to do…

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What do you need to do?

While your solicitor handles the conveyancing, there are other things that you also need to organise. 

Insurance for your new home

Buildings insurance covers your new home against fire, flood and storm damage. Mortgage lenders usually want to see that you have arranged buildings insurance from the date of Legal Completion. 

Contents insurance covers the contents of your home against fire, flood and theft. Mortgage lenders don’t usually need you to have this, but it’s very sensible for your own protection. 

You should also think about having personal insurance in case your circumstances change. 

  • Life insurance gives your next of kin a lump sum should you die
  • Critical illness insurance gives you cash should you become critically ill
  • Income protection gives you a monthly income if illness or an accident stops you working
  • Mortgage payment protection pays your mortgage if you can’t work.

Couple at front door of new Taylor Wimpey homePay the deposit

You need to have arranged how you are going to pay the deposit when you exchange contracts. The deposit is normally around 10% of the purchase price. If you are a first time buyer, we have some great ideas to help you make the most of your deposit. Take a look at our First Time Buyer Schemes.

Keep in touch with your solicitor and the seller

If you’re buying a new home from us, we’ll keep closely in touch at every step along the way. We also recommend that you keep in close contact with your solicitor so you can quickly deal with any issues that may arise.

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What is exchange of contract?

Before exchange of contracts, your solicitor will carry out a great deal of administrative work.

The draft contract

Our solicitor will draft a contract that you will eventually need to sign. Your solicitor will check that the price, deposit amount, and the title deeds (the registered property and ownership details) in the contract are all correct.

They will then send you a copy of the draft contract for you to read. The draft contract may include

  • a property information form, which gives key property information;
  • copies of previous ownership documents (title deeds); and
  • a fixtures, fittings and contents form.


Your solicitor will then conduct a series of searches to check that there are no problems with: 

  • the ownership of the property
  • rights of way, access, or future new developments in the area; and
  • local authority searches, including proposed changes to roads, housing or shops.

They will also check the Land Charges Register for things such as tree preservation orders and whether the property is a listed building. 

Your solicitor will ask our solicitor a set of standard questions about the property, its boundaries, neighbour disputes and which fixtures and fittings will be sold with the property. 

The final contract 

The final contract between you and us is ready when you and your solicitor: 

  • are satisfied with the outcome of all the enquiries;
  • have received any surveyor’s reports and taken necessary action;
  • have received the formal mortgage offer;
  • have confirmation that the purchaser has been approved for any relevant schemes and incentives such as Help to Buy;
  • have arranged payment of the deposit;
  • have agreed the completion date; and
  • the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) standard certificate has been issued.

At this point, you and we sign a copy of the final contract. The signed contracts are then exchanged and both you and we are legally bound by the contract.

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What happens between exchange and legal completion?

There is still work for your solicitor to do after contracts have been exchanged. 

  • They will carry out final searches such as Land Registry checks.
  • They will draft a transfer document to transfer the ownership of the property to you.
  • They will finalise your mortgage documents and arrange for you to sign them.
  • They will make sure that the mortgage funds are available to complete the sale.

At the time of legal completion, you will also need to pay for extra costs such as Stamp Duty and solicitors fees. 

Take a look at our guide to The Costs of Moving Home to find out what other costs you need to prepare for when buying a home.

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What is legal completion?

This means that you become the owner of your new home. Legal completion takes place after exchange of contracts and when your new home is ready to move into. Sometimes exchange and completion happen on the same day, but more often they are a week or two apart.

What happens on the day of legal completion?

  • Your mortgage lender releases the money to pay for your new home. 
  • You pay other costs, such as stamp duty and solicitors fees. 
  • Your conveyancer or solicitor receives the title deeds for the home. 
  • Your conveyancer or solicitor registers the transfer of ownership of the home with the Land Registry. 
  • We will meet you and hand over the keys so you can move into your new home!

Taylor Wimpey site manager visiting family at their new home

What happens next?

We will arrange for our Site Manager or Sales Executive to visit you a week after you move in. They will check that you’ve settled in and answer any questions you may have about your new home. Should you find anything wrong with your home (what we call ‘snagging’ items) the Site Manager will arrange to have these quickly sorted out for you. Before you legally complete on your new home, why not take a look at our handy Home Moving Checklist?

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