When do you pay your house deposit?

(Last Updated: 30/01/2024)
8 min read
Key Takeaways
  • You pay your house deposit the day before or on the day of exchange of contracts. The amount of deposit you pay is 10% of the agreed purchase price (excluding any agreed fixtures), however you can agree to pay a lower amount.
  • On a new build you may pay a reservation deposit on instruction (often between £250 to £2,000). This will be deducted from the deposit you need to pay on exchange of contracts
  • You pay the house deposit to your solicitor and they then pay the seller's solicitor once you exchange contracts
  • The deposit sits in the seller's solicitor's bank account until completion - they aren't allowed to send the seller the deposit until after completion, unless it is agreed prior to exchange.

You don't pay the money direct to the seller or their solicitor. The buyer's solicitor often sends the house deposit to the seller's solicitor by cheque.

It is rare to send the deposit before completion, unless you are buying a new build from a developer.

How much deposit do i need for a house?

The contract between you and the seller states that you are liable to pay a 10% deposit on exchange:

2.2 Deposit

2.2.1 The buyer is to pay or send a deposit of 10 per cent of the purchase price no later than the date of the contract"

You can, however, agree with the seller to pay a deposit of between 5% and 10%. Read more - How to buy a house with 5% deposit

Even if you have a larger deposit, for example 25%, you still only need to pay 10% on exchange of contracts and the balance you pay on completion. If you're struggling to save for a deposit then read this - How to budget the costs of buying your home.

So...When do you pay your house deposit?

This is when you need to pay your house deposit during the life of the conveyancing process including when you need to pay money on completion:

When do you pay your house deposit
Day 1 - Paid to your solicitor

Paying deposit to solicitor for a house

Once you have found the property you want to buy, then you'll need to find a solicitor to handle the legal work for you. Solicitors' fees range from £500 to £2,000 depending on the value and tenure of the property. Most solicitors will require a deposit to be made on account, ranging from £190 to £300.

Our solicitors take a deposit of £160, which is covered under our no sale, no fee policy. In terms of when do I pay solicitors fees when buying a house, you most often pay this initial deposit first and then the balance of your fees one day before completion. Read more about our No Sale No Fee Policy Here.

Day 1 - Paid to the estate agent

Reservation deposit

When do you pay deposit on a new build house? Some estate agents require a reservation deposit to be paid to the seller, in order to take the property from the market. This is very common for new build purchases, and the reservation deposit can range from £250 to £2,000.

Be careful to check the terms of a reservation deposit, as you want to make sure it is refundable if you have to pull out, as well as that it is a reservation deposit as part payment of the purchase price - there are some estate agents who charge you a fee to accept an offer. We discuss this further in our article - Is it a reservation deposit or a fee payable to the estate agent?

Concerned about when do you pay your house deposit?

We will keep you updated throughout the entire process, always making sure the deposits are paid and you know what stage of the conveyancing process you're in.

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The day before exchange - Paid to your solicitor

10% of the purchase price

Prior to exchange of contracts, you'll need to pay 10% of your purchase price to your solicitors' client account, so that they can exchange contracts and then send on the house deposit to the seller. This is perhaps the most important answer to the question when do you pay your house deposit or perhaps, more pertinently, when do you pay your mortgage deposit? This deposit is a compulsory part of eventually receiving the balance of your mortgage, which you use to buy your home. After you have exchanged contracts, you'll be contractually bound to purchase the property.

The money needs to be cleared (available) in your solicitors' client account before your solicitor can exchange contracts with the seller's solicitors.

How to send your house deposit

You can transfer up to £10,000 free each day using the Fast Payment payment system. You should schedule transferring the money to your solicitor, so that if, for example, you need to pay £25,000 for the exchange deposit, you send £5,000 on one day, £10,000 on the next and then the balance the day after that. That way you won't incur bank transfer fees from your bank (make sure to speak to your bank and confirm you can send money by fast payment before you get close to completion).

We are often asked at the beginning of the conveyancing process to confirm exactly when exchange of contracts is likely to take place. The challenge is that although the conveyancing process follows a set path, there are a number of things that can happen along the way to slow the process down, such as:

Solicitors estimate an average timeframe for a freehold purchase is 8 weeks and a leasehold/share of freehold is 12 weeks. The more complex the conveyancing process and the more people involved, then the longer the time it will take to get to exchange of contracts. We explain more about this stage in our article - Exchanging Contracts

Check your solicitor's bank account details by phone

It is essential that when you transfer any deposit to your solicitor, that you verbally check the bank details with another person within the solicitor's practice. This is additional protection against fraud.

1 Day Before Completion - Paid to your solicitor

Balance of completion monies

The day before you complete your purchase, you'll need to pay the balance of your completion monies to your solicitor including:

There maybe some other costs that you need to pay when buying a property, so make sure to get your completion statement sent to you by your solicitor. You can read more about all of the costs with detailed explanatory notes by reading our article - Purchase Completion Statement Explained.

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Andrew Boast of Sam Conveyancing
Written by:
Andrew started his career in 2000 working within conveyancing solicitor firms and grew hands on knowledge of a wide variety of conveyancing challenges and solutions. After helping in excess of 50,000 clients in his career, he uses all this experience within his article writing for SAM, mainstream media and his self published book How to Buy a House Without Killing Anyone.
Caragh Bailey, Digital Marketing Manager
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Caragh is an excellent writer in her own right as well as an accomplished copy editor for both fiction and non-fiction books, news articles and editorials. She has written extensively for SAM for a variety of conveyancing, survey and mortgage related articles.

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