Buying, selling or running a home – everything you need to know about your home and garden!

Conveyancing – Choosing a Solicitor

If you are a first-time buyer, you need not worry about selling a property before you can move. But you will still need to find an experienced solicitor to carry out the conveyancing on the property you want to buy.

If you are selling and buying you will need a solicitor for both parts of the transaction. Most lenders will be prepared to accept your choice of solicitor, as most experienced solicitors will have acted for the lender in question before. If you use the desktop lawyer you get a conveyancer whom is able to keep you informed over a secure Internet connection or by the more traditional means of telephone and post, as you prefer.

Conveyancing can take longer than you had imagined, as the solicitor assembles all the necessary information and searches; but don’t be tempted to rush matters. Your new home is probably the most expensive thing you will ever buy, so it is important to be sure there are no nasty or expensive surprises.

The solicitor will research and undertake the following tasks:

  • Obtaining the legal documentation (deeds) which proves legal ownership;
  • Researching just where the property’s legal boundaries lie and who bears the responsibility of maintenance;
  • Preparing a schedule of fixtures, fittings and contents. It is important to clarify whether or not carpets or kitchen appliances are included in the purchase price;
  • Asking the vendor if they are aware of any material structural, environmental or other defects that you should know about;
  • Passing you a draft contract for sale prepared by the seller’s solicitor, which sets out the terms of your purchase;
  • Carrying out a search of local planning information to uncover details of any developments, such as a new road, which could affect the property’s value;
  • Obtaining mining reports if your new home is in a coal mining area;
  • Agreeing a date for completing which suits both you and the property’s seller;
  • Checking with the environment agency to establish details of any contamination issues;
  • Checking to see if there are any flooding problems or coastal erosion issues that may affect your new home.

The process is mostly the same if you are moving to a new home but the solicitor will be preparing your contract for sale.

Exchanging Contracts

When you get to exchange contracts you should have your survey safely completed and both you and your mortgage company should be happy with it.

You can now get a formal mortgage offer, which will detail all the conditions and details of the loan. Please read this carefully and get your solicitor or mortgage adviser to explain anything you do not understand. Care should be made to check what redemption penalties there may be and how long they are applicable for.

At this stage your solicitor should have a draft contract ready for you and the seller to sign. Once you have signed the contract, there is no going back and the contract is binding, so be very sure you are happy with all the sale arrangements before you sign.

At exchange you will have to put down a deposit of around 10% of the purchase price. You should make sure that your new home is insured, as you are now legally obliged to buy it; the lender or your solicitor will help make sure that this happens.

Check List:

  • Local searches are complete
  • The surveyor’s report is complete and acceptable
  • You have a formal mortgage offer, which you understand
  • You have the deposit available
  • You have agreed an completion date and this date is in the contract
  • There are no outstanding issues remaining, with no ambiguity about what carpets, fixtures, appliances or fittings are included in the sale price

When you have signed the contract, your solicitor will deliver it to the seller in exchange for the contract he has signed. From this point onward, both you and the seller are committed to the deal.