England, Wales and Scotland have varying methods of selling properties, but this information relates solely to Private Treaty sales in England and is only general information that will NOT apply in all circumstances.
In England bids by Private Treaty (i.e. your offer) can be made verbally or in writing without a legally binding contract necessarily being entered into.
Initially, it is usual for a prospective purchaser to make a formal offer through the Estate Agent. The Agent will then put the offer forward to the Vendor for consideration.
Once an offer has been accepted by a Vendor both parties generally appoint a Solicitor or other Legal Representative to act on their behalf.
Exchange of Contracts is the point at which the purchaser and Vendor become legally bound to proceed with the sale. At this point it is usual for the purchaser to pay a deposit (usually via their Solicitor or Legal Representative) and also to take on responsibility for insuring the property.
Any works that may be required to the property e.g. for mortgage lending purposes are generally carried out between Exchange of Contracts and Completion of the sale.
Completion follows Exchange of Contracts and is the process that literally 'completes' the sale, with the balance of monies transferred to the Vendor and the keys being made available to the purchaser. Completion may follow Exchange of Contracts by a matter of minutes or weeks depending on the individual circumstances surrounding the parties to the sale and the property itself.
Other methods of sale include:
- Tender: Submission of written offers or bids on a specified date.
- Auction: Competitive bidding in public with the highest bid being accepted on the fall of a hammer.