CONVEYANCING

How to choose a Solicitor for Buying a House?

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How to choose a solicitor

Be sure to choose the best conveyancing solicitor when you buy a house!

So, you’ve found your dream home, now for the dreaded conveyancing!  Moving house is right up there with life’s pinch points: bereavement and divorce being others that are likely to be quite so stressful.  So, who do you want on your side through the conveyancing process?  The best conveyancing solicitor?  Cheap conveyancing or value for money?  A solicitor near me?  Or conveyancing services online?  These are all questions you are no doubt asking yourselves, so let’s dive in and look at some of things that might help you choose the property lawyer that’s right for you.

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Solicitor for buying a house

The work that is done by the buyer’s solicitor and seller’s solicitor is slightly different.  The notion of ‘buyer beware’ very much dominates house buying so the buyer’s conveyancer will be doing much more to ‘protect’ their client.  In harsh terms, the seller doesn’t really mind what they are selling, but the buyer (and their solicitor) very much do mind!

How to choose the best Conveyancing Solicitor

Be mindful of these points when choosing your conveyancing solicitor:-

  • Law Society CQS accredited – are they member of the Conveyancing Quality Scheme
  • Solicitor Reviews – check out what previous clients think of them. QLAW uses TrustPilot
  • Solicitor APP – do they give you 24/7 access to your conveyancing case? Our APP gives around the clock real time access to your case, in built messaging, and even biometric ID!
  • Conveyancing Quote – get your CONVEYANCING QUOTE instantly and free. It will provide you with everything that should be included in a conveyancing quote
  • Compare conveyancing quotes – always compare like for like quotes
  • Lender Panel – is the conveyancing solicitor on your lender’s panel?
  • Solicitor near me? Ask yourself if convenience really does mean a local solicitor, or can the power of IT and great customer service mean that convenience and accessibility is now something very different to local.  For example, QLAW was one of the first law firms ever to become fully paperless – in 2008!

So, to help you choose your conveyancing solicitor, lets take a look at some of the stuff they will be doing for you as the buyer in the conveyancing process.

The Conveyancing Process

If you would like an overview of the conveyancing process, do check out our article which explains the key stages of conveyancing, and what needs to happen before the magic exchange of contracts, and completion (the day you move into your new home)!

What does the buyer’s solicitor do?

The buyer’s solicitor needs to establish the legal side of the house you are buying before you can exchange contracts.  Up until exchange of contracts, both buyer and seller can walk away.  Nobody is legally bound until exchange of contracts.  So, having received the CONTRACT PACK from the seller’s solicitor, your (as home buyer) solicitor will then:-

  • SEARCHES – do a local search; a water and drainage search; an environmental search (and possibly other’s depending where you are in the country
  • PRE CONTRACT ENQUIRIES – the buyers solicitor will undertake conveyancing enquiries (also know as pre contract enquiries or just enquiries) as the final step before exchange of contracts

Does my Solicitor arrange my Survey?

No!  This is your responsibility.  There are different types of survey from simple valuations through to a warts and all full building survey.  If you would like to read more we have lots of helpful articles on surveys for home buyers.

One thing to note is that you MUST have your survey done before your solicitor can exchange contracts for you.

If anything odd comes up in your survey you can ask your solicitor to raise it as a ‘pre-contract-enquiry’.

Does my Solicitor arrange my Mortgage for me?

Like your survey, it is YOUR responsibility to choose, apply for, and get a mortgage offer.  You can apply for a mortgage direct with your chosen lender, or go through a mortgage broker who can do a lot of the leg work for you, and if ‘independent’ should have access to the whole mortgage market, and the best mortgage deal to suit your particular circumstances.  You can read more about home buyer mortgages in our MORTGAGES section.

What is a lender panel?

Although you must obtain your mortgage, you should also ensure that your chosen solicitor is on the ‘panel’ for that lender.  QLAW is on the panels of all major lenders, and so we can deal with most home buying.  But, something for you to check.

Make sure you choose the right conveyancer – don’t add to an already frustrating process!

What is a Solicitors Mortgage Report?

Once you have received your formal mortgage offer, your solicitor will provide you with a mortgage report – ie a legal summary of the mortgage.  They will NOT be advising you on any financial aspect ie the suitability of the chosen mortgage – just the legal terms of it.

Your conveyancer will also ‘report’ to your lender to confirm that everything is in order as regards the legal side of the property you are buying (this is why your chosen solicitor needs to be on the panel of the lender you use).

What are pre-contract-enquiries?

The final step of the conveyancing process (before exchange of contracts) is for the buyer’s solicitor to raise formal ‘ENQUIRIES’ with the seller’s solicitor.  We’re often asked ‘do I have to have pre-contract enquiries’?  If you are having a mortgage, the answer is yes!

Buyer’s checklist for exchange of contracts

So, to summarise, as the buyer of a home, your solicitor (and you!) will need to have completed each of the following:-

With all of the above in place, you are ready to exchange contracts!

Why does my chain need to be complete?

Aside from the enquiries period, property chains are perhaps the most frustrating part of the conveyancing process.  Even if the buyer’s solicitor has done everything on their bit of the chain, exchange of contracts will only normally happen when each and every person up and down the chain is also ready.  Information passing up and down the chain can be vague and sketchy, and this only adds to the frustration.  Also, your conveyancer is forbidden from talking to anyone other than the solicitors above and below you in the chain.  Our PROPERTY CHAIN section provides lots of information around the horrors of property chains!

What happens on Exchange of Contracts?

On EXCHANGE OF CONTRACTS, the buyer will pay a 10% deposit, the completion date will be fixed, and the parties are then immediately and legally bound to then ‘complete’.  Up until exchange of contracts, either party can walk away.

The completion day will usually be the same up and down the chain (as will exchange have been).

What happens between Exchange & Completion?

Now the fun bit!  You will hopefully now have your removals booked, time arranged off work, and perhaps child care plans in place if needed.  You must insure the property you are buying from exchange of contracts, and of course you can start the process of notifying people that you are moving.

What happens on the day of Completion?

For the buyer’s solicitor – not much happens on the day of completion.  But for you as the buyer you get the keys to your new home!  Once the completion money has got through the banking ‘CHAPS’ system, the buyer and seller solicitors simply confirm completion by  a short telephone call, and then they will call you with the good news!  Then its over to the estate agent to collect the keys to your new home, and the big move in can start!

What happens after completion?

There will be legal ‘loose ends’ for your solicitor to do including: registering you as the new owners at the Land Registry; paying any Stamp Duty you owe; and registering any mortgage at the Land Registry on behalf of your lender.

What are the average solicitor conveyancing fees for buying a house?

Like so much, this might vary depending on where you are in the country.  But, don’t leave it to a guessing game, get an instant CONVEYANCING QUOTE right now!

You may like to read more on what should a conveyancing quote include. >

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