Buying a house is a really exciting prospect, but there’s more to it than simply choosing a house and moving in. Finding the right conveyancer for you is paramount, but how?
So, you’ve decided to buy a house? This will certainly be a very exciting time for you, but you mustn’t forget that there are a lot of nitty-gritty details you’ll need to consider.
Whether it contracts, house checks, property issues, or an ownership chain, there’s a huge list of potential setbacks that can put a stopper in it all. For most people, having the knowledge and time to deal with all of this can be daunting. This is where a conveyancer comes in.
Buying a house is not cheap, and an online conveyancing quote calculator will show you that a conveyancer will add to your overall budget. The question is, do you really want to spend the money on a conveyancer when you can do it all yourself? What’s more, once you’ve decided to use one, how can you choose the right one for you? Find out, here…
What is a Conveyancer?
The word “conveyancing” refers to the legal transfer of a property from one owner to another. A conveyancer is a legal person who will deal with this, and they will either come in the form of a solicitor or someone who is licensed to do it.
Conveyancers will usually be hired by both the seller and the buyer, acting on behalf of each client. They will take care of most of the details, including contracts, the property chain, any issues with the house, and more.
Ultimately, they will also ensure that the property legally changes hands so there are no hiccups with ownership and title deeds. By exchanging contracts with the other conveyancer, and ensuring both the seller and the buyer sign, the house changes hands officially.
What Roles Does a Conveyancing Solicitor Play?
As we’ve seen, the conveyancer is in charge of dealing with contracts, paperwork, and all the legal jargon that comes with it. Their role is to ensure that the property changes hands legally and that their client isn’t fleeced along the way. To give you a full picture, let’s go into a little more detail about the full role of your conveyancer…
Dealing with all the Paperwork
The main job of your conveyancer will be to prepare all of the legal documents. This includes the accumulation of all the information required for the paperwork, making sure it’s all filled out and ready to sign.
Along with ensuring all the seller’s paperwork makes sense and is fair, they will also be able to add any of your requests into your own contracts too. This will mean that anything you want to be contractually binding will be written properly, with all the correct legal jargon. This way, nothing can be misconstrued, saving you from potential conflicts later on.
Some of the main pieces of paperwork your conveyancer will deal with include:
- Open up a purchase file: the conveyancer will send you a letter setting out the terms of business, including a contract. This is the initial step to get your basic personal details, the house and estate agent details, IDs, and more.
- Dealing with all contracts: the seller’s solicitor will draw up a contract, and this will be sent directly to your conveyancer to deal with.
- Seller’s Property Information Form: this will be where any issues with the house, maintenance checks, and property disputes will be listed. The solicitor will deal with all this, making you aware of any hiccups along the way.
- Fittings and Contents Form: this will detail anything that will be taken with the seller on removal day, and what things will remain on the property. This could include furniture, kitchen fittings, curtain rails, etc.
- Leasehold Information Form: this form will detail the amount of ground rent payable, maintenance fees, any restrictions, and contact details required, for leasehold properties.
- Making sure it’s all watertight: a conveyancer will be able to pick out any issues with contracts, and any problems you should be aware of before sealing the deal. This means you can be sure you’re signing on the dotted line with all the correct information at hand.
Before you commit to purchasing a home, it’s important you are aware of any issues tied to the property. This might include problems with public rights of way, enforcement notices for the property, any neighbor disputes, and so on.
These sorts of issues can take weeks, or even months, to iron out. So, getting the ball rolling by hiring a solicitor, who can deal with it all themselves, is the sensible option.
Environmental and water searches will also be part of this. This will allow the buyer to get to know what suppliers are currently being used, and what the efficiency within the house is like. This all paints a bigger picture of the home, allowing the buyer to understand what they’re getting into.
Raising Queries from Checks
From these searches, the conveyancer will be the one to raise questions surrounding any of the problems they encounter. Because they’re experts, they will know what queries to raise, and which ones are all simply to be expected.
Having an expert on board to point out any glaring issues that you probably wouldn’t have noticed is imperative. Otherwise, you might be signing a contract, without truly knowing the implications.
Dealing with the Property Chain
The property chain is basically the chain of people who need to complete their sale and purchase before you can. For example, you’re buying a home, but where is the seller moving to, and who are they purchasing this home from? If one person decides to stay put, this means that everyone in the chain is affected too.
The conveyancing solicitor will be able to deal with all of this once they have access to the notification of sale. This has details of the property chain, and allows them to organise the chain of command. From this, they can line up all the parties involved for exchange and completion, and confirm dates with you about when your own completion takes place.
Once agreed, this will be the basis for when you both sign and exchange contracts. It’s important that you make absolutely no removal or moving in arrangements until the property chain is complete at your end.
Can Help with Financial Dealings
The conveyancer can also help you to deal with any financial arrangements you have with the bank and the seller. This includes the handing over of the deposit, as well giving you advice on all your mortgage documents.
A great example of where this might come in handy is if you have a Help-to-Buy ISA for your deposit. The Help-to-Buy bonus cannot be used for the deposit, but the conveyancer can negotiate terms, allowing you to use this lump sum for your deposit instead of for later payments.
They can also make sure you are not blindsided by any surprise payments, as well as assist you with paying any property costs on the day of settlement.
Tying Up Loose Ends
After completion, things don’t end there; there are a couple of other loose ends that’ll need tying, and your conveyancer can help you with these too. These include:
- Paying your Stamp Duty Land Tax on your behalf.
- Notifying the freeholder of the sale, if the property is leasehold.
- Sending your mortgage lender a copy of the property title deeds, who will hold it until you’ve paid them off.
- They can help you to deal with any payments required on the settlement at the property.
- Giving you a bill for their services which you will need to pay off in full.
How to Choose the Right Conveyancer for You
If you decide to go for a conveyancer to help you with your new house purchase – and it’s really just the sensible thing to do – you’ll need to choose one. There are a few things to bear in mind that might influence your decision, including:
When you consider how much your deposit will cost, as well as any home renovations and other costs, a conveyancer will simply add more to your budget. The average cost of any conveyancer in the UK is around £1,000, so you’ll need to factor this in. Any cheaper than this, and you might end up with shoddy workmanship, so you may have to think about quality over price.
Most solicitors will be able to work with you wherever you are in the UK. That said, you should really check to make sure before jumping right in.
You should also consider whether to go for a conveyancer in the locality of the property or where you live currently. You may have to ask around to see what each conveyancer prefers, before settling.
Online or Offline
These days, many solicitors work completely remotely – over phone and email – which is very convenient and quick. That said, sometimes this can lead you to an automated system, which might make it very impersonal. However, offline conveyancing through letters takes a long time, so you need to decide what you’d like to prioritize.
Recommended by People
Finally, does your conveyancer of choice have good reviews? Or, has someone you know raved about their services? Even better, but it’s definitely worth finding someone with the best reviews before going ahead.
Ready to Buy a House?
Now you know what it really takes to get on the property ladder, maybe a conveyancer isn’t such a bad idea after all? We hope that this article has helped you to make a clearer decision about choosing your conveyancer. Good luck with your move, and we hope you love your new house!