Understanding a Solicitor's Role in Home Buying

Conveyancing is the process of transferring the legal ownership of property or land from one person to another. When buying a house, it is best to have a licensed conveyancer or solicitor in mind before continuing any further.

Picking the right conveyancer, be it a specialised solicitor or licensed conveyancer, is important to ensure you go through the house buying (also known as conveyancing) process as smoothly as possible.

Choosing a legal expert

When buying a house, there are two types of legal professionals that you can gain support from a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer.

A solicitor is a fully qualified lawyer and can offer a broad range of legal services. This may include taking another party to court in the event of a dispute. A licensed conveyancer specialises only in property services and does not offer the same breadth of skills should you require additional legal support.

In general terms, a solicitor may charge slightly more than a licensed conveyancer as a reflection of their extended qualification and knowledge. For many people, a solicitor is the preferred option because they feel more comfortable knowing that their legal service provider can support them in a number of ways.

A licensed conveyancer is specialised in property transactions. Conveyancers are well equipped to handle matters such as property sales with speed and efficiency. However, they are less likely to be qualified to advise you on any related matters or potential disputes in the event of a less straightforward transaction. Examples of this may include issues such as boundary disputes or cases where the sellers are going through a divorce and using separate solicitors.

There is no right or wrong choice when it comes to choosing a property legal professional. It is very much a case of finding the right service provider for your needs.

Conveyancing and the search process

As part of the conveyancing process, your legal service provider will raise any queries once the draft contract has been received from the seller's legal representative. They will then request their own local searches (it is important that you pick a legal expert who is knowledgeable about the local area).

Your licensed conveyancer or solicitor will then perform a range of legal services to provide you with more in-depth information about your potential home – these are generally details that you wouldn’t be able to find out during a viewing or survey. Some searches will be recommended personally by the solicitor and others are required by any mortgage lender to protect them from any liabilities that the property may have.

Exchange and completion

Once the searches have been performed, contracts can then be exchanged and steps are taken to move towards completion of the transaction. At exchange stage, both parties will sign a contract and your legal service provider will take charge of the process of transferring deposits to the seller – also known as the vendor. Typically the deposit is 10% of the total purchase price of the property.

A completion date is then agreed between parties. At this stage, the residual monies (usually 90%) are transferred from your legal service provider to the vendor's solicitor's account. At this point the sale is complete.

If you are planning on buying a new home and are in need of legal support for any of the above reasons, answer a few short questions and start comparing legal experts now.