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Property | Legal Guides

Buying a home is one of the most important decisions you will ever make, and any mistakes can have major consequences for you and your family. What may seem to be a simple straightforward purchase can go badly off the rails unless it is properly planned.

Therefore, it is important to involve your solicitor at the earliest possible moment, especially since the fee for conveyancing work usually includes preliminary advice. Here, you can learn what to expect from your solicitor and how to make the move as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

How your solicitor can help

Your solicitor can  advise you in relation to the following  matters:

  • Are there any problems with the title? Would you have any trouble in reselling? Remember that, if you purchase a  home at auction, you will be required to sign a binding contract there and then and pay a non-refundable deposit. Therefore, you should always consult your solicitor well in advance of the auction to allow time for the title to be checked in advance and to arrange necessary finances.
  • Will the loan come through without difficulty or delay? You should check with your bank that they have everything they need from you.
  • What happens if you cannot make your loan repayments?
  • Contents – what will be left in the property?
  • Do you know what rights your spouse, civil partner or co-purchaser will have over the property when purchased?
  • Should you purchase in your own name or in joint names with your spouse / civil partner or others? If so, should you purchase the property in shares or as joint owners?
  • Do you know what joint ownership involves in the event of your death?
  • Do you need a co-ownership agreement?
  • Estimating budget for the transaction - do you know the total cost of:
    1. Purchasing the home?
    2. Mortgaging the home?
    3. Government taxes (stamp duty and VAT on legal fees)?
    4. Land Registry fees?
    5. Legal fees?
    6. Other outlays such as search fees?
    7. Other expenses such as survey fees and necessary repairs?

Your solicitor will also look after the following:

  • Exchange of contracts.
  • Raising and negotiating any title queries with the seller’s solicitor.
  • Drafting closing documentation.
  • Title searches.
  • Giving an undertaking to your bank.
  • Ordering your loan cheque for closing.
  • Closing the sale.
  • Post-closing matters  stamping and registering  title to the property and sending title deeds to your bank.
  • Giving a certificate of title to your bank.

What you need to do

Matters that you, the client, will need to look after include:

  • If you are buying a new home, dealing with the builder on property details, extras, and arranging for a qualified surveyor / architect / engineer to do periodic inspections and the snag list.
  • If you are buying a second-hand home, having a structural survey carried out by a qualified surveyor / architect / engineer before signing any contracts.
  • Dealing directly with your bank on non-title matters, including:
    • Loan application / negotiation, getting loan approval in writing (which should be obtained before signing contracts).
    • Establishing your identity for the purpose of opening a loan account (under anti-money laundering legislation).
    • Property insurance, what value to insure for, what interests should be noted on the policy, how much it will cost.
    • Life assurance / mortgage protection insurance, what it covers, how much it will cost.
    • Direct debit mandate.

Note that your loan cheque will not issue or could be delayed until you have satisfied your bank on these non-title items

  • Getting balance of money to close (other than the loan cheque).
  • Getting money to pay legal fees and outlays on closing.
  • Pre-closing inspection of the property.
  • Arranging to have utilities transferred into your name when you complete the purchase.

Before seeing your solicitor:

  • Do not pay a deposit.
  • Do not sign anything for anybody.
  • Do not order work, furnishings or appliances until the purchase is completed.

Seeing your solicitor

When seeing your solicitor, please:

  • Phone for an appointment before arriving at the office.
  • Bring with you photographic evidence of your identity such as your passport or driving licence and a document with your permanent address, such as an electricity bill or bank statement sent within the last three months. This is needed under anti-money laundering regulations [link].
  • Bring with you any documents relating to the purchase, including:
    • Your state marriage certificate if you are married or civil partnership registration certificate if you are in a civil partnership.
    • Your separation agreement or judicial separation order if you are separated.
    • A decree of divorce if you are divorced, or decree of dissolution of civil partnership if you were in a civil partnership that has been dissolved.
    • Your PPS number and tax type (whether PAYE, income tax other than PAYE, VAT, etc).
  • Make a note of the questions you wish to ask your solicitor.If you need to cancel an appointment, please phone and tell your solicitor.