Buying or selling your home




Buying or selling a home normally takes 2 to 3 months. The process can take longer if you’re part of a chain of buyers and sellers.

There are several steps you’ll need to follow:

  • sellers must provide an Energy Performance Certificate for the property
  • if a seller is using an estate agent, potential buyers must make any offers through the agent
  • once a buyer’s offer has been accepted, the seller’s responsible for drawing up a legal contract to transfer ownership
  • an offer isn’t legally binding until contracts are exchanged
  • depending on the amount given for property, the buyer may have to pay Stamp Duty Land Tax

This guide relates to England and Wales. Shelter has advice about buying and selling a home in Scotland.

If you’re buying property with someone else

You can own a home with up to 3 other people. Find out more about the different types of joint property ownership.

You must decide which type of joint ownership you want if you buy, inherit or become a trustee of a property with someone else. You tell HM Land Registry about this when you register the property.

You can own a property as either ‘joint tenants’ or ‘tenants in common’.

The type of ownership affects what you can do with the property if your relationship with a joint owner breaks down, or if one owner dies.

You can get legal advice from someone who specialises in property.

Joint tenants

As joint tenants (sometimes called ‘beneficial joint tenants’):

  • you have equal rights to the whole property
  • the property automatically goes to the other owners if you die
  • you cannot pass on your ownership of the property in your will

Tenants in common

As tenants in common:

  • you can own different shares of the property
  • the property does not automatically go to the other owners if you die
  • you can pass on your share of the property in your will

Change your type of ownership

You can change from being either:

There’s no fee to do this.

You can also change from sole ownership to tenants in common or joint tenants, for example, if you want to add your partner as joint owner. This is called transferring ownership.

Sell the property if the other owner has lost mental capacity

You’ll have to apply to the Court of Protection if you want to sell the property but the other owner has lost ‘mental capacity’.


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