Why do you need a solicitor when you’re buying a house?
You’ve had an offer accepted; you and the seller are both keen to get things moving as quickly as possible and there’s no real scope for argument. If you’re new to house buying, you may well be asking why anyone else needs to get involved.
In theory at least, you can do your own conveyancing. The reality though, is that it’s simply not worth the risk (not to mention the sheer hassle). When you’re taking ownership of what’s likely to be the most expensive item you’ll ever own, it makes sense not to take any chances.
Here’s why you need a property solicitor:
- They keep things moving. Delays in paperwork are the biggest reasons why house purchases tend to stall. Whether the problem’s with the lender, the seller, the Land Registry or anyone else, a prod in the right direction from an experienced solicitor can make all the difference.
- They know the right questions to ask. They know what to look for in terms of potential problems with boundaries, the extent to which you’ll be able to alter or improve the property, issues with the lease (if it’s a long leasehold property) and many other potential pitfalls.
- They prevent nasty surprises further down the line. They handle all searches; they assess the contract on your behalf and they oversee the transfer of money to the seller. All of this helps ensure you take good legal title of the property you’re buying.
- They are definitely on your side. Meeting with your conveyancing solicitor may well be the first contact you have with an experienced property professional whose interests are entirely with you.
How do I choose a conveyancing solicitor to instruct?
We have to admit that we’re obviously biased here – and of course we’d be more than happy to have a word with you when the time comes to instruct a solicitor.
Perhaps it’s something to do with being over 250 years old, but we’re not ashamed to say we’re somewhat old-fashioned when it comes to client care. There’s nothing quite like being able to pop into your solicitor’s office to deal with an issue – or even just to drop in some paperwork.
It’s also rather reassuring if you’re dealing with a solicitor who knows the local area, the estate agents, and, very likely, the seller’s solicitors.
Wherever you’re based, “think local” for convenience and personal service. Even then, quality can be mixed. Look for the Law Society Conveyancing Quality Accreditation (this tells you that lawyers in the firm are expert conveyancers).
Also, keep an eye out for the Lexel quality mark (this tells you the firm is managed to a very high standard – which means your calls are going to get answered and your file’s highly unlikely to go astray!).
A handful of other awards are a pretty good indicator of quality too, and if your conveyancers have picked up any prestigious awards then you know you’re in the right hands!
How much will conveyancing cost me?
There’s no excuse for a firm of solicitors not to give you a realistic quote right from the outset.
Cunningtons, for instance provides a quote via their website. This is a quote, not an estimate: i.e. it is the figure you will pay barring unforeseen complications.
In a small minority of cases, issues may arise which means there is an inevitable costs overrun. If this is the case, you will be told in advance, and asked if you wish to proceed.
Costs will no doubt be an important factor in determining who to instruct – but look at expertise and reputation too. Ask yourself, “Do I feel at ease handing over the legal side of my house purchase to this firm?”
You should instruct a solicitor at least as soon as the offer is agreed. The seller will want to move fast, so instructing will show you mean business. At the same time, tell your lender which solicitor they will be dealing with.