Why do you need a solicitor when buying a house?
If you’re a first time buyer you may be wondering whether you can save yourself some money when buying your house by not using a solicitor. This blog explores the conveyancing process, what a conveyancing solicitor does and why you are likely to need a solicitor when buying a house.
What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing is simply the legal transfer of property. Buying or selling property is a complicated process so many people choose to use a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor to assist in the legal aspects of property acquisition or selling.
What is the difference between a Conveyancing Solicitor and a Licenced Conveyancer?
A conveyancing solicitor is a solicitor trained in all aspects of law but whom has chosen to focus on property. A legal conveyancer on the other hand, is only trained in property law and is not qualified in any other aspect of law.
Can you do your own conveyancing?
There is no legal requirement to use a conveyancer when buying a house, however the process can be drawn out and complicated so there are many pitfalls when it comes to doing your own conveyancing.
In this blog we will discuss the role of the conveyancer and everything involved in the conveyancing process before giving you a few reasons to opt for using a conveyancing solicitor rather than going it alone when buying a house.
The conveyancing process explained – what does a conveyancer actually do
The conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor will oversee the whole legal process, liaising with your mortgage lender, estate agent(s), HMRC, the land registry and the seller’s solicitor when engaged in a house sale. By doing this a conveyancer is able to ensure that all of the correct legal documents, such as contracts, have been signed and submitted before the buyer and seller can exchange contracts on the correct completion date and the title deeds transferred.
This whole process takes between four and 12 weeks (from receiving the contract pack), and involves a number of steps.
Information from the buyer(s)
The first step when engaging a conveyancing solicitor is to send over proof of identification, bank details and information about the property (although this may also occur through liaison with the seller’s estate agents).
Aquisition of a contract pack
Conveyancing solicitors will get in contact with the seller’s solicitor to receive a contract pack, alongside a property information form and fittings and contents form that detail any boundary disputes, planning permission, current utility suppliers, guarantees and any contents of the house that are included in with the sale.
Contact with the seller’s conveyancer can also help to decide potential completion dates that suit all parties and help ensure everyone is working to the same timeline.
The conveyancer will get in contact with your mortgage provider or mortgage advisor to get a copy of your mortgage offer.
Local Authority and property searches
Your conveyancer will undertake any local authority and property searches to inform the buyer of any key information about the land the property is on. For example; if there are building works, or new roads or railways planned in the area nearby that may affect the property value.
The information uncovered during local authority searches may mean you wish to get additional insurance or, in some cases, can lead buyers to pull out of the sale.
Some property searches are demanded by the mortgage provider, others are sensible to get done, your conveyancing solicitor can help you decide which you should pay for.
Once the solicitors are happy with the information from their searches, contracts can then be signed by both parties. Once signed, your solicitor will arrange these to be swapped and for the deposit to be transferred to the seller. The completion date is agreed upon the exchange of contracts.
Your solicitor or conveyancer will prepare a completion statement which breaks down the financial inputs and outputs of the transaction. The solicitor will also send the transfer deed and any other necessary documents for you to sign ahead of completion.
The solicitor will obtain funds from the mortgage lender and transfer the balance to the seller’s solicitor on the agreed completion date. Once the seller’s solicitor confirms they have received funds, the transaction is complete, and you will be able to collect the keys from the estate agents.
HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)
Once the sale is completed, the conveyancer completes a tax return and sends any money required to HMRC in the form of stamp duty.
HM Land registry
HM Land Registry provide house owners with a land title that is backed by the Government and a title plan indicating general boundaries. Once the sale of a property is completed, your solicitor is then able to register you as the new legal owner with HM land registry, enabling them to update their system and forward the title deeds to you as the new owner.
Once this is done the property purchase is now fully complete.
Reasons for engaging a solicitor when buying a house
It is a requirement for some mortgage lenders
Depending on your mortgage provider you may have no choice but to get legal advice from a conveyancer or conveyancing solicitor. Read through the information given to you by your mortgage provider or discuss this with them at your meetings. If you are buying your property outright then this does not need to be a concern to you but read on to find out other reasons why you should still involve a solicitor.
Less stress and less to do yourself
As you can see, there is a lot that goes on legally when buying a house and it is already stressful. This can get even more complicated (and thus, even more stressful) when there are chains on either side.
Having a solicitor do the legwork can mean that you are able to go about your daily life (and prepare to move) whilst they get on with all of the paperwork. Not only reducing the amount you have to do but making the whole process less stressful.
Protection from legal issues
Buying a house is a complicated process and there are lots of forms and legal documents to get your head around, each with plenty of legal jargon to understand. A solicitor will be well versed in these forms and be on hand to help you out as a buyer. The average person taking on a house buy without a solicitor may struggle to understand and complete them in a timely fashion.
Using a solicitor when buying a house can give you peace of mind that you are protected from and know about all the possible legal issues. This can mean you are more likely to be able to sell your house without further issue when the time is right too.
Woollcombe Yonge your local Plymouth Conveyancing Solicitors
Here at Woollcombe Yonge Solicitors in Plymouth we pride ourselves on being there for you and helping to remove the stress from property.
Our conveyancing team are experienced and dedicated to helping you and your family whilst keeping our costs transparent. You can use our simple conveyancing calculator to help give you a good idea of the conveyancing costs associated with your property.
Contact our highly knowledgeable team if you have any further enquiries or are thinking of using Woollcombe Yonge for your residential conveyancing needs.
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