One of the biggest, longest, and most important stages when moving is conveyancing (the legal side). When moving home, it’s essential that you get everything right, which is where a conveyancing solicitor comes in. The problem is that it can be tempting to look for areas to try and save money where you can on what is likely to be one of the biggest single purchases you ever make.
A conveyancing solicitor may feel like an unnecessary expense, but a lot goes into a home purchase and move from a legal perspective. Unless you know those intricacies, attempting to cut corners by avoiding using moving home solicitors can be a big mistake.
Legally, you do not have to use a conveyancing solicitor if you so choose. DIY conveyancing is an option if you’re very confident about your legal knowledge and you know everything there is to know about the necessary legal paperwork, processes and practicalities in advance and you have time to commit to doing everything when you need to do it. For most of us, that’s not an option, and a solicitor who’s experienced with house moves is the smart option.
DIY conveyancing carries significant risks unless you know exactly what you’re doing. You will have to carry out all of the responsibilities of the solicitor, tackling any additional duties that may crop up during the property ownership transfer.
In many cases, a seller will be reluctant to sell to a buyer who doesn’t have a solicitor, and if they’re selling through an estate agent this will be one of the first questions you’re asked as a buyer. So you may not even get the chance to buy the property if you don’t use a solicitor.
If you are buying with a mortgage, the usual position is that your lender will agree to your solicitor acting for them (as well as you) provided they are on the lender’s panel. Your lender will not let you act for them in any circumstances. So if you do your conveyancing yourself your lender will insist on using their own solicitor. This will not only mean you are dealing with two or three solicitors (one for your seller, one for your mortgage company and one for your buyer if you are selling at the same time). It will also cost you more because you will have to pay for your mortgage company’s solicitor.
The final reason why a moving home solicitor with a conveyancing speciality is so important is that if anything does go wrong, it is unlikely that any insurance will cover you whereas the solicitor will always be insured. The repercussions of not having insurance can be lengthy legal battles that will undoubtedly require a solicitor and additional costs which will be far more than the costs of using a solicitor in the first place. Prevention is better than cure as they say.
The main goal of your solicitor will be to ensure that all of the necessary legal requirements of a property transfer are adhered to. Not only that, but a good solicitor will also make sure that your navigation through the process will be as seamless and as transparent as possible.
So what does a solicitor do for you when you’re moving home? It’s all about the legal responsibilities, and there are a lot! Here’s a look at some of the tasks that your moving home solicitors will do on your behalf.
Whether you’re a first time home buyer, you’re looking at an investment property, or climbing higher up the housing ladder, the fact is that buying a new property is never straightforward. The legal processes are complex and time consuming, but a good conveyancing solicitor will be more than used to dealing with them and will be set up with all the necessary equipment and support to do things efficiently for you.
Whilst there are fewer steps, it’s no less important for the solicitor acting for the seller to explain the process. Their role is very important because a good one will anticipate what the buyer’s solicitor needs and provide a lot of it without being asked.
Handy Tip: If you’re speaking to a conveyancing solicitor and they’re vague about the process, or you can’t pin them down on their fees and disbursement costs, then that should be a red flag.
Your conveyancing solicitor will then carry out the following on your behalf throughout the home move process.
Your solicitor will acquire, prepare, and then distribute all of the legal paperwork that’s essential when buying or selling a property. There’s a lot of it too! This is the biggest stumbling block for anyone attempting to move home without the help of a solicitor. If anything goes wrong with your legal paperwork, your house move can be delayed long-term, and the entire process could be at risk of not going through. Those documents include, but aren’t limited to:
As you can see, that’s a lot of paperwork. And because it’s tied into the large sums of money needed to move home, getting it wrong can be a nightmare.
There are lots of people involved in most property transactions, including estate agents, mortgage brokers, surveyors and solicitors for the other parties. Any conveyancing solicitor worth their salt knows that it’s vitally important to communicate with all of these parties to ensure a smooth transaction where everybody knows what’s going on and stress is kept to a minimum.
When you want to buy a home to move into, you want to know as much about that property as you can. That’s where your solicitor comes in. On your behalf, they will investigate and search for lots of information about that property either themselves or by employing specialists in a particular field like search agents or surveyors. This is vital for you, but if you’re buying with a mortgage it’s important for your mortgage lender too.
What they’ll be looking for are things like property disputes, any limitations on planning permissions, or any upcoming local developments that may affect your new home. They will conduct water and drainage checks, check for risks of subsidence, and, depending on the area, may carry out specialist searches into things such as local mines that may affect ground stability.
If any issues are discovered during this stage, your solicitor will be able to give you the legal advice you need. In some cases, they may even advise stopping the buying process entirely.
If you are selling, your solicitor is equally important but does the other side of the things above such as replying to enquiries and questions about any queries that searches have revealed.
The Transfer Deed (more commonly known as the Transfer) needs to be registered with the Land Registry. It’s the document that legally transfers property ownership, so it’s not something that you want to overlook. If you are selling, your conveyancing solicitor will talk you through the document to ensure that you fully understand every section. Once they’re sure you do, you will need to sign the Deed of Transfer ready for exchange.
Your solicitor will ensure that your contracts are all correct and there are no potential issues before exchange and will send you a completion statement which will give you details of all the money you need to pay for completion to take place.The final amount should not be a shock, as any good solicitor will have gone through all of their fees and disbursements before you agreed to use their services, when you signed up and updated you if there were any changes along the way due to unforeseen complications.
Any problems with the property discovered during the search will have been addressed and resolved so that the contract you sign is watertight. At that point the solicitor for the seller and the solicitor for the buyer will exchange contracts for completion to happen at a mutually convenient time for the parties.
Because those contracts are legally binding, it means that you cannot pull out of the property transfer except in very limited circumstances which hardly ever apply.
As a buyer, even when you have been handed the keys to your new home, your solicitor still has work to do. There will always be loose ends to tie up, and your solicitor will be working hard on those. This is going to include making sure that your Stamp Duty is paid and ensuring that you have all of your legal paperwork (and that it’s being kept somewhere safe).
They will formally register your ownership with the Land Registry, where you will be named the property owner (if you have bought with a mortgage, your mortgage provider will be listed as the lender).
Of course, there are no laws that say you must use a conveyancing solicitor, but the work still has to be done. Without the help of a solicitor who is an expert in conveyancing, you could cause yourself a lot of headaches. So while there are alternative ways to get your conveyancing done, those methods tend to come with lots of work, stress, risks and extra expense.
Moving home will always be a stressful time. Don’t add to your stress by trying to manage the complex legal requirements. Professional help will always make the process smoother and faster and cause far fewer headaches.
If you’re thinking about moving home and you’re not sure if you need a professional conveyancing solicitor, book a call with a member of our friendly team. Have a free, no-obligation chat about your questions and concerns, and start moving forwards in your home move.
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