Choosing A Solicitor And The Legal Process

For many people, from first time buyers to experienced movers, the decision on which solicitor to appoint for your sale, purchase or both can sometimes be quite daunting...

Most people will find themselves in this position at least once in their lives and therefore we've compiled a handy guide to what conveyancing achieves and the important things you should consider and be aware of:
  1. First off, what is conveyancing? In simple terms the word conveyancing is the method by which the solicitor acting for you checks the legal title (deeds) to the property and all associated paperwork to ensure that your investment and that of your bank (if there is a mortgage) will not be affected in the event of re-sale or re-mortgage.

  2. Next up check the legal fee's payable to the solicitor. Some firms will look competitive by offering you a low level base quote but will then tag on a lot of additional extras. A solicitor will provide you with an initial quotation which you can then study and decide to instruct or not. Most firms ask for an initial payment on account to cover any out of pocket expenses and will always require your identification.

  3. The firm you instruct should be able to liase with you via the telephone and most importantly via email as well the traditional postal method. Email is key in all walks of life, not just conveyancing for saving time.
So that is the basic side of how you go about setting up your solicitor. They will then investigate the property and would make you aware of:

    a)    Is the property Freehold or Leasehold? Freehold applies to most houses in the sense that you own the house and land on which it sits. Leasehold is more commonly applied to flats/apartments where you are effectively taking a lease of the property and would normally be responsible for paying a rent and/or maintenance charge to a Landlord for it's upkeep.

    b)     Your solicitor will let you know where boundaries lie and what you are responsible for. Always let your solicitor know immediately if you note any issue with the plan.

    c)    Items agreed for sale. If you have agreed to purchase any items from the seller or if the seller has agreed to include them free of charge, your solicitor will need to know to include them in the contract.

    d)    Your solicitor will advise you on the Stamp Duty Tax payable to the Government for any property costing above £125,000.00. You should obviously ensure you budget for this as well as fees.

    e)    The property may have rights granted on it in favour of the owner and in favour of others. Your solicitor will check the deeds for this (i.e. Rights of Way). If you are aware of anything that might affect the property you should let your solicitor know at the outset.

    f)    The deeds to a property can also contain restrictive covenants. This can relate to a number of things but in particular they can sometimes limit you to only carrying out alterations with the consent of the original land owner. Your solicitor will let you know if these effect your property in their written report to you.

    g)    A local search, water and drainage search and environmental search are also normally carried out to check on the locality and history of the property. These are referred to as “searches”.

    h)    The solicitor would also check your mortgage offer and any associated survey or valuation report to ensure they match what you are purchasing and to highlight anything else revealed by physical inspection. Remember that your solicitor will have likely not visited the property and as such you should always flag up any problems with them relating to any defect as property purchasing is very much “Buyer beware”.

The above list is not exhaustive but serves as a general overview of the process. Your solicitor will keep you informed. Once all of the above has been investigated and approved you would be invited by your solicitor to sign the contract papers and to pay over your deposit (usually 10%) of the sale price before proceeding to an exchange of contracts. 

Exchange of contracts should not be confused with a completion date. What happens here is that you and the seller agree a completion date and then the solicitor for you both exchange contracts on a particular date which then means the completion date becomes legally binding on both parties.

This is great news as once you have exchanged contracts you will then have a moving in date for your new home which will normally arrive between 12-2pm on the day to allow for the banks to transfer monies.

This article was kindly provided by Blacks Direct


Publish date: 15/09/2017