Why do you need a solicitor to buy a property?


The legal transfer of property from a seller to a buyer is called property conveyancing. Not only is the transfer complicated and time-consuming, but there are numerous legal documents that need to be completed.

You don’t have to use a solicitor to buy a property. It is possible to do the conveyancing yourself but there are risks. During the transfer process, problems can arise, so it’s a good idea to use a solicitor to handle the conveyancing. Let’s take a closer look.

The biggest purchase of your life

Buying a home is probably the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make. It’s also a minefield of legal documents, so it’s a good idea to hire a solicitor to handle your transfer. If you’re worried about the cost of conveyancing and are thinking of doing it yourself, then think again – sometimes problems arise that you aren’t equipped to handle, and this is why having an experienced solicitor makes sense – and if anything does go wrong, then your solicitor’s insurance company will have to pay up.

In many cases, solicitors offer fixed-price conveyancing packages, which are very good value for money. If you’ve taken out a mortgage on the property, then your mortgage lender will almost certainly insist you use a solicitor to carry out the conveyancing.

How do I find a reputable solicitor?

A solicitor will arrange for the legal transfer of ownership of a property from the seller to yourself. Choose an unhelpful or inexperienced one and it could cost you a lot more than you bargained for, or even wreck the deal.

Ask your friends and business colleagues if they know, or have dealt with, a firm of solicitors in your area, and would be happy to recommend them. Alternatively, you can search the websites of the Law Society or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.

What does your solicitor do for you?

Once you’ve hired a firm of solicitors, they will send you a Letter of Engagement or Confirmation of Terms of Business. As soon as you sign and return this, they’ll start work. They begin by writing to the seller’s solicitor requesting the draft contract. This comes in the form of an information pack that includes the property’s title and some standard forms filled in by the seller. You will need to check these forms and let your solicitor know if everything is as it should be. If you’re taking out a mortgage, your solicitor will request a copy of the lender’s offer and check the conditions.

Signing the contract

Once answers to all your solicitor’s enquiries have been dealt with satisfactorily, you’ll be asked to sign the contract as well as your mortgage documents. Then you should transfer the deposit to your solicitor’s bank in time for Exchange of Contracts.

Exchange of Contracts

Before you can exchange contracts, your mortgage lender needs proof of your Buildings Insurance policy. At this point, all parties must agree on a completion date, and once contracts are exchanged, there’s no going back – you are legally bound to buy the property and the seller is legally bound to sell.

When contracts are exchanged, your solicitor will transfer your deposit to the seller’s solicitor as security, in case you change your mind, or cannot pay the balance of the purchase price. If that happens, the seller is allowed to keep your deposit, and could sue you for further compensation. If the seller pulls out, you can ask the court for an order forcing them to complete, or to return your deposit (you can also sue for compensation).

On completion

Although completion is normally set for around 1pm on the specified day, it only happens when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they’ve received all monies due. The seller can then hand over keys to their estate agent for collection by you.

Your solicitor arranges for the title deeds to be registered in your name and also makes sure the transfer is stamped and approved. Finally, your solicitor sends the title deeds to your mortgage lender, where they’re kept until you either sell your property or pa

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