Back to Blog

5 stars Article rating

Exchange of contracts and deposits – what should I expect?

  • Once terms of the contract are agreed, a date to exchange contracts will be set.
  • A 10% deposit is due to the seller when contracts are exchanged.

This is the second to last stage when buying or selling a property and involves the buyer and seller agreeing a completion date. When everyone’s happy with the terms of the contract, conveyancing solicitors on both sides will set a date to exchange contracts. On this date, both parties are committed to the transaction.

What does exchange of contracts mean?

When a buyer has agreed on a price and all of the survey and searches have been done, they will need to exchange contracts with the seller. The date, the price and the terms on which the property is taken are now formally agreed and are legally binding from the date on which contracts are exchanged. On this date a deposit is usually paid to the solicitor by the buyer. A solicitor will ensure that the contract is drafted properly to protect your position.

If there are any legal problems regarding the property, the lawyer will ensure that these are resolved before allowing the exchange to take place. They will also arrange a date that both buyer and seller agree on to complete the purchase.

If you are selling your property, your lawyer will double check that they hold the correct bank details.

During this time, both buyer and seller should arrange removal vans, ensure they’ll be packed and prepared ready for the move and should take final meter readings.

What about the deposit?

A 10% deposit is due to the seller when contracts are exchanged. The seller needs to continue making mortgage payments until the completion day, and the existing mortgage or loan can’t be transferred to a new property.

What if the buyer fails to complete the purchase?

If the buyer fails to complete the purchase then the seller will probably be entitled to retain the deposit and the property. If the seller fails to complete, the buyer will recover their deposit and the seller may face a substantial claim for compensation.


Our expert property lawyers can answer any queries you may have regarding the conveyancing process. If you’re looking to buy or sell a property, contact our team today or get a free conveyancing quote.


If you’re buying or selling a house, find out what you need to know during each stage of the process in the links below:

Stage One: Initial steps for buyers and sellers

Stage Two: Surveys and searches

Stage Three: Buying a new-build home

 Stage Five: Completion

Take a second to rate this article

Rate an article

Thank you!