Why Use a Conveyancing Solicitor When Buying a Property?
A conveyancing solicitor or licenced conveyancer can identify any potential problems with your property purchase. This includes boundary issues, access rights, issues with the lease and even fraud. This gives you peace of mind that you know precisely what you are buying – and that any complications are detected and dealt with.
Can you complete the conveyancing process yourself?
Of course, you can choose to complete the conveyancing process yourself (Although if you are getting a mortgage, the mortgage lender will insist on a solicitor being used to protect their interest). Those who take the DIY approach are often surprised at just how complex the process is. There is a reason why it takes years to become a licenced conveyancer or a conveyancing solicitor. It is a professional role in its own right, and there is a multitude of legal, tax and administrative affairs to get to grips with.
Furthermore, conveyancers are legally obliged to have professional indemnity insurance. This means that your losses will be covered by their insurance policy, should anything go wrong. If you carry out the conveyancing process yourself, you will not have this protection. In other words, if you make a mistake, you must deal with the consequences – and bear any financial burden associated with the error.
What does a conveyancing solicitor do?
If you are currently weighing up whether to use a conveyancing solicitor or not, you might be asking yourself: what does a conveyancing solicitor actually do?
Contract and searches
When you buy a property, your conveyancer will first request a contract pack from the seller. A series of searches will also be carried out, including:
- Land registry searches
- Local authority searches
- Environmental searches
- Water authority searches
- Chancel repair searches
- Other searches depending on the location – e.g. mining searches if mining was previously conducted in the area
Your conveyancer will go through the contract with a fine toothcomb and analyse the results of the searches. This ensures that anything untoward is uncovered in the early stages of the process. For example, it could be that:
- There is a very short amount of time left on the lease (for leasehold properties)
- The seller is not the legal owner
- The seller is selling the property to cover up illegal or fraudulent activity
- There are restrictions placed on the property
- The property is at risk of flooding
- The property is built on/near contaminated land, water, a landfill site or elevated levels of radon gas have been detected
- There are drains and sewers located on the property
- The property is built on unstable ground due to mining
- The property owner is liable for chancel repairs and other responsibilities, such maintaining roads adjoining the property
- There are public rights of way across the property
- The property boundary is not where you thought it was
It is absolutely essential that you are equipped with this knowledge sooner, rather than later. It could prompt you to withdraw from the sale, or you may want to re-negotiate the sale price. If you fail to identify these issues, you will remain ignorant until you have actually completed the purchase – by which point, it will be too late. You will then have to deal with the fallout, whether that is paying to extend the lease, handing money to the local church for chancel repairs, or operating under certain restrictions.
Pre-contract enquiries and other forms
If the property searches reveal any issues, or the contract raises any questions, your conveyancer can make pre-contract enquiries. This involves seeking clarification from the seller’s solicitor.
Your conveyancer can also help you with the fitting and contents form and the property information form. The former specifies what the seller is going to leave behind and for what price. You can ask your solicitor to negotiate this. The latter details everything you need to know about the property, including disputes with neighbours, parking facilities and planning permissions. Again, your solicitor can highlight any concerns, explaining the implications for you, should you continue with the transaction.
Exchange of contracts
Once you are happy to proceed, your solicitor can liaise with the seller’s solicitor over the exchange of contracts. A date will be set for the contracts to be exchanged. Prior to this date, your solicitor will request your deposit. On the day, the money will be safely transferred to the seller’s conveyancer and the contract will be signed. At this point, you have committed to the transaction.
The next big hurdle is to complete the purchase. However, before that can be finalised, there is yet more paperwork to be done. Your conveyancer will draft a transfer deed and a completion information form. It is also necessary to prepare a completion statement, carry out pre-completion checks and liaise with the lender regarding the mortgage (if applicable).
On the day of completion, your conveyancer will arrange for the outstanding balance to be safely transferred to the seller’s solicitor. Your conveyancer will also receive the title deeds and transfer deed from the seller’s solicitor.
Even once the keys are in your hands, there is still work to be done. Your solicitor will send the Stamp Duty Land Tax payable to HMRC and register the property in your name at the Land Registry. Additional documents are then sent to the mortgage lender, if required.
DIY conveyancing vs conveyancing solicitor
This is a brief overview of the tasks completed by a conveyancer during a property purchase. If you choose not to instruct a professional, you must do all the work yourself. This is a significant undertaking and will consume a considerable amount of time and energy. You will also have to teach yourself the legal, tax and administrative aspects of the process.
Using a conveyancing solicitor removes this burden from your shoulders, leaving you free to focus on other things – such as packing your belongings and finding a buyer for your own property. It also gives you peace of mind that the transaction is being handled by a professional. A property is a big purchase and is likely to be your most valuable asset. By instructing a conveyancing solicitor, you can rest assured that your best interests will be protected.
Conveyancing solicitor Sunderland
Mark Cook Solicitors offer a transparent, fixed fee service (with no hidden charges) to help you keep an eye on your budget and to ensure that there are no nasty surprises. This starts with a free quotation.
If you would like a free no obligation discussion with us then please call us on 0191 567 7244 and we’ll be happy to help you.
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