Buying a Property
Guide to Buying a Property
Buying a home often means big changes and a lot of excitement. But without the help of a property conveyancing solicitor, the process can become a legal minefield. By hiring a solicitor, you’ll have an expert in property law at your assistance, helping you avoid problems and protecting your rights at every step. And most importantly, your solicitor will ensure that you get moved into your new home, without a glitch.
This guide will explain what you can expect from a property conveyancing solicitor and how the process of transferring the property works.
Choose a Property Conveyancing Solicitor
You should think about hiring a solicitor before you take any steps towards buying a new home. This way, that person can provide expert legal advice from the very start of your purchasing process. To find genuine, property conveyancing specialists visit the Law Society website where you can read up about the experience and expertise of solicitors all across the UK.
Or, you might want to take a recommendation from a friend or family member. The most important thing is that you choose a solicitor who specialises in property law.
Check the Costs
Fees vary between solicitors. To make sure you’re getting a fair deal, compare the prices of a few solicitors. Yet, remember that the cheapest option might not be the best option to meet your needs. Consider the following before you choose:
- Choose a local firm so it’s easier to call in to sign and pick up documents – this saves time and the costs involved in postage.
- Choose a firm with flexible appointment hours – are they open when you are available? Are they open on the weekends?
- Choose a firm with an easy online system for tracking your case
- Remember you will be required to pay several other expenses such as VAT, Land Registry Fees and stamp duty land tax.
What Your Solicitor will Require from You
To get started with your purchase, your solicitor will require several pieces of information from you. These may include:
- a form of personal identification
- documentation stating the price of the property
- documentation of any factors that may influence the time at which you purchase the property (e.g. school holidays, medical appointments)
- information about how you will fund your payment for the property
You will also need to inform your solicitor whether:
- you have applied for a mortgage
- you have plans to undertake work on the property
- you are buying in partnership with someone else
- the seller is purchasing another property
- you own a property to sell
Energy Performance Certificates
A house or flat cannot be put on the market until the owner or the estate agent processing the sale has commissioned the preparation of an Energy Performance Certificate. This document details the rating for the energy efficiency of the property and also includes recommendations for improving it. Your solicitor can provide more advice about whether the EPC for the property you’re planning to buy is appropriate.
If you are applying for a mortgage, you will need to prepare an independent valuation of the property for your mortgage lender. Usually, the mortgage lender will appoint their own surveyor to undertake the valuation but you will be expected to foot the fee.
To help you make a decision about purchasing the property, it’s also advisable to appoint your own surveyor to undertake an evaluation and prepare a buyers report. This will help to satisfy you that the property is structurally sound before you make the purchase. If the report does reveal that building work is needed then consult your solicitor as this could lead to a compromise on the price.
Contacting the Seller’s Solicitor
Once you have hired a solicitor, they will contact the seller’s solicitor to arrange a draft contract and to take note of any additional requests. At this point, your solicitor will also be given a document listing the contents and fittings which will be included in the sale of the property. It is important that you check this list carefully to avoid any surprises later on.
Your solicitor will undertake various research to inquire about the status of the property. These searches will help to reveal any planning issues affecting the property such as any proposed road improvements or restrictions on planning permission.
These searches are limited to the property itself and won’t reveal any information about neighbouring properties. But your solicitor may carry out search about flooding, mining and contaminated-land if necessary. You will be informed of anything of concern is revealed.
Following your solicitor’s investigations, your solicitor will report back any findings. If you are still happy to go ahead with the sale of the property then your solicitor will finalise the terms of the contract and explain them to you. Your next step is to sign the contract and deposit the money.
This stage of the process is crucial for both you and the seller. You exchange your signed contract with the contract the seller has signed and the date for the sale’s completion is set. After this point, the deal is binding.
After you and the seller have exchanged contracts, your solicitor will take all payments from you and your lender. Then your solicitor will carry out final searches, pay off any existing mortgages and prepare the transfer deed for signing.
The sale of the property is complete when your solicitor has transferred the money to the seller and you are given the keys. You will then be recorded as the legal owner of the property.