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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.