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a couple looking at a house they wish to buy

What does a solicitor do when buying a house?

By | Conveyancing

Once you’ve purchased your dream home, the last thing you want is to find there is something wrong with it later down the line. Buying a house is one of the biggest financial commitments a person can make. You’ll want to get it right! After all, your home will lay a solid foundation for your future.

We know, the sheer amount of admin involved in buying a home can be a headache. In fact, 37% of Brits say buying a home is one of the most stress-inducing life events. But with the help of a solicitor, the conveyancing process doesn’t have to be stressful.

So, what does a solicitor do when buying a house? Let us break it down for you.

What does a solicitor do when buying a house UK?

When you put in an offer on a house, you will need to provide the name and contact details of your conveyancing solicitor. A conveyancing solicitor specialises in transferring ownership of property if you’re buying or selling.

a property solicitor with a client

When you’re buying a house, a solicitor will:

Review the legal title and deeds

The solicitor will review the legal title. This is to establish whether there are any issues that could potentially stop you from buying the property, selling it in the future or registering a charge over the title (regardless of whether you’re using a mortgage to finance the property).

Perform local council searches

It’s essential to make sure there are no issues with the house before you legally commit to purchasing it. On your behalf, the solicitor will assess property searches from the local council.

These include:

  • Local authority searches – this provides information about the property and the surrounding areas. For instance, whether the property is a listed building or located in a conservation area. These searches will also provide details about prospective planning permission and building control issues
  • Land Registry searches – it’s crucial that you legally check that the seller is the legal owner of the property. If not, the sale cannot be completed
  • Environmental searches – this helps to identify potential environmental risks, such as flooding, landslips and subsidence. In most cases, the mortgage lender will insist that an environmental search is carried out before you can get a mortgage
  • Water authority searches – this will establish whether there are any public drains or sewers on the property that could ultimately prevent any future building work
  • Location-based searches – depending on the location of the property, the solicitor may perform a mining search, chancel repair reliability and commons registration.

Provide legal advice

Before the contracts have been finalised, the solicitor will offer legal advice. They will help negotiate contractual terms to ensure you’re not being left short.

property solicitor with a client

Say, for example, structural issues are discovered after the survey of the home has been completed. The solicitor may advise that work is completed before the sale goes ahead. Alternatively, they may advise you to push for a price reduction on the property.

Handle contracts

When you put your offer in, the solicitor will draw up a draft contract. This will include the details of any fixtures and fittings that will remain in the house, as well as any works that will be carried out prior to the sale.

The solicitor will then request the seller’s solicitor to provide a draft of the contract and any supporting documents.

Prepare for the exchange of contracts

Before the ‘exchange of contracts’, the solicitor will make sure you have enough funds for a deposit and appropriate home insurance cover in place.

The exchange of contracts refers to the point in the buying process where the buyer and seller swap documentation to confirm the property sale is legally binding. At this point, the sale is confirmed. If either party pulls out, they may face serious financial consequences

Transferring the funds to pay for the property

Once the solicitor has received the mortgage funds from the lender and the deposit funds, they will transfer the money to the seller’s solicitor to pay for the property and complete the sale.

Deal with the Land Registry

The solicitor will help with registering you as the new owner of the property by sending your legal documents over to the Land Registry. They will then send a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender.

What documents do solicitors need when buying a house?

When buying a house, your solicitor will need to provide you with the following documents:

  • Title deed – the registered title showing you as the ‘registered proprietor should be supplied within a month or two of the sale completion
  • Copy of the lease and management pack – only if the property is leasehold
  • Fittings and content form – this details what will be left in the property when the seller vacates
  • Warranty documents – if the property is less than 10 years old, you will need a copy of the new home policy documents
  • Stamp duty receipt – the solicitor will need to provide confirmation that stamp duty has been sent to HMRC and tax paid within 14 days of completion
  • Indemnity insurance policy documents – only where appropriate
  • Energy performance certificate (EPC) – this is required by law and shows what it will cost to power and heat the property

 

Do I need a conveyancer and a solicitor to buy a house?

There is no legal requirement to seek the services of a conveyancing solicitor to buy your house. Having said that, given the many responsibilities involved, it would be nearly impossible to handle a property purchase without the expertise and guidance of a solicitor.

Our conveyancing solicitors can help you buy your dream home, whilst avoiding any potential risks. So, what are you waiting for? Get in touch today to speak to a team of solicitors you can trust.

We hope we’ve provided some clarity on what does a solicitor do when buying a house? For more expert legal advice, visit our blog. We talk you through topics such as prenups, transfer of equity and much more.

a couple and their solicitor talking about prenups

What to know about prenuptial agreements

By | Divorce and Separation

It’s fair to say that many of us are not clued up on what to know about prenuptial agreements. Prenups have gotten a pretty bad reputation over the years. For many, the mere thought of getting a prenup is like sealing your fate to get divorced. However, the reality is a lot of issues can creep up throughout the course of a marriage.

Sure, no one wants to think about divorce when you’re planning a wedding to the love of your life, but it never hurts to be prepared. Getting a prenup is simply about protecting yourself against the worst-case scenario. In the event that your marriage breaks down, your personal or family assets will, as far as possible, be protected. Not to mention, contesting a divorce through the courts can sometimes cost thousands. So, getting a prenup might not be such a bad idea after all, and may save a lot of money and stress.

Here’s what to know about prenuptial agreements.

What does a prenuptial agreement do?

Firstly, it’s important to understand what a prenup actually does. A prenuptial agreement, also known as a prenup, is a written contract made by engaged couples before they get married. The prenup states their rights and responsibilities regarding individual and joint assets (and debts). It breaks down how these assets would be divided should the relationship, unfortunately, end in divorce.

Who should get a prenuptial agreement?

Prenups are usually ideal when one partner has or is expected to acquire, more assets than the other. For example, a prenup is likely to be put in place for those with a large inheritance, property or business owners or even couples marrying in later life who want to protect their pensions. A prenup allows couples to make more specific arrangements, as opposed to a typical 50/50 split.

fountain pen with two wedding rings next to it

Having said that, you don’t need to be rolling in money to get a prenup. At the end of the day, a prenup serves to clarify each party’s financial rights and prevent disputes regarding all marital assets.

What should be included in a prenuptial agreement?

Prenups are the perfect way to ensure you and your soon-to-be spouse are on the same page. But every prenup is different and will need to be tailored to you and your partner’s specific needs.

The prenuptial agreement should include:

  • An inventory of both your assets
  • Details on how these assets should be looked after during the course of your marriage
  • Details on how these assets will be dealt with and divided in the event of a divorce
  • Assets that you do not intend on splitting or dividing

These assets can be broken down into:

  • Incomes
  • Pensions
  • Savings
  • Property held, both solely and jointly
  • Premium bonds
  • Inheritance
  • Stocks and shares
  • Business interests

Sure, prenups can cover a myriad of assets and issues. However, that doesn’t mean your prenup will cover everything.

At the end of the day, if you want your prenup to be taken seriously in court, it’s important to think carefully about what to include and what not to include in your prenuptial agreement. Usually, it’s best not to include the below issues in a prenup:

  • Personal matters
  • Lifestyle matters
  • Illegal or unreasonable matters
  • Child support
  • Child custody – this includes visitation rights, schooling and religious upbringing

Are prenups legal in the UK?

At present, prenups are not legally binding in the UK. However, courts still recognise prenups and they may be held up in court providing the agreement is fair and does not discriminate against any children.

prenuptial agreement form with two wedding rings on it

To hold significant weight in court, it’s also important that the agreement was entered into freely and that both parties understand the financial and legal implications of the prenup. Moreover, both parties should disclose all assets and property fully, receive legal advice and ensure the prenup is contractually valid.

Can you sign a prenup after marriage?

You cannot sign a prenup after marriage. The prenuptial agreement will need to be signed at least 28 days before the wedding with all individual and joint assets and property disclosed.

If you haven’t signed a prenup before marriage, that does not mean you can’t still protect your assets. If you and your partner are already married, you can sign a postnuptial agreement, otherwise known as a postnup.

A postnup is similar to a prenup – the only difference is that it’s a contract between couples who are already married rather than engaged to be married. Like a prenup, a postnup sets out how assets will be divided should the marriage end in divorce.

Note that postnups are also not legally binding, but will still hold weight in court as long as they are fair and do not prejudice any children.

How to get a prenup?

In order to get a prenup, you should seek the services of an experienced family law solicitor. At Bromfield Legal, we are specialists at drafting prenuptial agreements and work closely with you to tailor them to your specific needs and make sure your assets are set out clearly and fairly.

man signing prenuptial agreement

Looking to speak to an expert? Contact us today to find out how we can help you protect your family’s financial future. We look forward to chatting with you soon!

We hope we’ve provided some clarity on what to know about prenuptial agreements. For more expert legal advice, visit our blog. We talk you through topics such as no-fault divorce, what happens when your spouse dies and you have a prenup and much more.

To learn more about the ins and outs of prenups, read our blog on what is a prenuptial agreement.