buyer signing solicitor paperwork

What Does A Buyer’s Solicitor Do?

What Does A Conveyancer Do For A Buyer?

We have put together a guide on what to expect if you are buying a house and need to instruct a conveyancing solicitor to carry out the legal work involved.

Initial Stages

Once you have found the house you wish to buy it is time to instruct a solicitor to work on your behalf. Your solicitor will carry out all the leal work involved in transferring the house ownership into your name and all the details this involves. Now you have told the solicitor that you wish to use their services you should receive a ‘Letter of Engagement’ or a ‘Confirmation of Terms of Business’. Once you receive this, you should sign and return this as soon as possible so that they can start work as soon as possible. You want to avoid as many hold ups as possible. You must inform you solicitor at the outset if you are also selling a property as the transactions might need to be tied together.

Once you have returned the letters of engagement of the terms of business, funds will be requested to cover initial expenditure such as the cost of the searches, sending out letters and forms and other taske the solicitor carries out.

Your solicitor will write to the seller’s solicitor to confirm that they are instructed and request the draft contract which should arrive with a sales pack. This includes information regarding the title deeds of the property and the other standard forms completed by the seller. If the property is leasehold a copy of the lease will also be included.

Joint Ownership

If you are buying the property in joint names your solicitor will need to make you aware of the important decisions to be made in relation to joint ownership. There are two ways that you can jointly own a property:

  • Joint tenants – this means both you and the other buyer have an equal interest in the property. If one of you dies the remaining owner automatically owns the property.
  • Tenants in common – Both of you own a specific share of the property. You can leave that share to anyone via your ‘Will’, should you die.

Legal Work Prior To Exchange Of Contracts

Your solicitor will examine the draft contract and the forms received from the seller regarding the terms of sale. If you have and queries, they will raise them with the seller’s solicitor. You must carefully go through the standard forms that the seller has completed and inform the solicitor if everything is (or is not) as you expected.

If you are buying a leasehold property, your solicitor will send a standard Managing Agents Questionnaire to the seller’s solicitors. This will be sent on to the relevant Landlord/Managing Agents/Residents Association to be dealt with.

Mortgage

If you have obtained a mortgage to buy your property, your solicitor will receive a copy of the mortgage offer and examine the conditions since your solicitor usually undertakes legal work on behalf mortgage lenders as well.

Signing of Contracts

When you and your solicitor are satisfied that all questions/issues/problems have been satisfactorily addressed, you will be asked to sign the contract and mortgage documents. Arrangements will be made for the deposit to be transferred into your solicitor’s bank account. This needs to clear before exchange.

Exchange of Contracts

Before contracts are exchanged, your lender (if you have one) will need you to have Buildings Insurance policy in place. This is to cover their investment should the property be destroyed.

All the parties involved will need to have agreed on a completion date. From the moment contracts are exchanged you are legally bound to buy and the seller is legally bound to sell. Should either you or they pull out now, the other will be entitled to claim compensation for losses arising from the breakdown of the sale.

At the moment of exchange, your solicitor will send your deposit to the seller’s solicitor. This acts as a guarantee to the seller that should you change your mind or for some reason fail to pay the balance and complete the purchase, the seller can keep your deposit, and may take you to court for compensation if the deposit is not sufficient recompense for breaking the contract. Similarly, if the seller exchanges contracts and fails to complete the sale, you could likewise apply to the court for an order to force the seller to complete. If not, you may be entitled to get your deposit back and sue the seller for compensation. It is quite unusual for a sale not to complete once contracts have been exchanged but it is important to be aware of the penalties and consequences of such an event happening.

Between Exchange And Completion

Now your solicitor will draw up the transfer deed so that the property can be registered in your name upon completion. Your solicitor will also carry out some further searches connected to the conveyancing process.

It is during this time that you should receive a bill from your solicitor detailing all expenses and providing you with a final figure which must be paid into your solicitor’s bank account before completion.

Completion

The time for completion is normally set for around lunchtime on a specified day though in reality, obstacles may arise, banks can take longer than expected and other people in the chain can cause delays. So in practical terms, completion takes place when the seller’s solicitor confirms that they have received all the money that is due. Once this has happened, the seller should leave the keys at the estate agents, ready for you to collect.
Your solicitor will send off the title deeds which will be registered in your name. Iff the property is leasehold they will ensure that your name is entered on to the lease and get the transfer stamped to officially approve the sale.
Finally, if you have taken out a mortgage to buy the property, the deeds will be sent to your lender for until you either sell the property or pay off the loan.
You are now a property owner. Your solicitor will bill you for their services and once you have paid, you can relax and enjoy your new home.
If you’re also selling a house you may be interested in what your solicitor will do in the buying process. Read more here

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