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A Conveyancing Solicitor's Guide to Home Buying

12th April 2010
By Tim Bishop in Real Estate Law
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When buying a house, people often make the mistake of thinking that they can deal with the conveyancing process themselves, rather than hiring a solicitor to do the job.

Below is a simple guide to what your conveyancing solicitors should do for you, and why it is strongly recommended that you have legal help when buying a house.

Your solicitors work in the conveyancing process is as follows:

1. Pre-contract searches; these are technical searches that are carried out mostly through the local land registry and authority (note; other bodies are also used). These searches will let you know where the boundaries of the property are, and if there are any rights to the land that affect it - whether beneficially or otherwise.

2. Pre-contract enquiries; your solicitor will form a comprehensive list of enquiries to pose to the seller's solicitor. This should ensure that anything you need to know about the property is answered in full with any necessary disclosures made from the seller. This process will be used for example to identify exactly what fixtures and fittings are included within the purchase price.

3. Report on title; your conveyancing solicitors should always keep you informed of any developments and the results that arise from any investigations. When the results of any searches and pre-contract enquiries have been returned, your solicitor will let you know the details, plus whether these will have any impact on the value of the property.

4. Draft a contract of sale; your lawyer should make sure that every part of the sale is covered in the contract, and make any amendments necessary following the search and pre-contact enquiries. At this point a formal offer from your lender should be received.

5. Exchange of contracts; at this point, the deposit is given to the vendor and you have entered into a legal contract to buy the house. If you were to pull out at this stage then you would normally loose your deposit money. As a result, you must make sure that you are satisfied with all parts of the purchase before you get to this point.

6. Completion; the purchase price is paid over to the seller and you are free to move into the property.

7. Post-completion actions; here your conveyancing solicitors will ensure that all the logistics of registering title and moving into the property are taken care of, for example; your solicitor will partake in the transfer of purchase deeds, will register your title at the land registry and ensure the payment of stamp duty land tax.

As you can see although the conveyancing process is fairly structured it can be complex. The dangers of not appointing a solicitor come in the form or not identifying potential problems with the property and not getting exactly what you bargained for. Hiring an experienced solicitor should make sure that you are not hit with anything unexpected when you exchange contracts and pay your deposit.

Trying to carry out your own conveyancing deal without hiring a lawyer is very risky - although it could save you money now, long-term you could end up spending a lot more.


Bonallack & Bishop are a firm of specialist conveyancing solicitors, with a team experienced in enfranchisement work. Senior Partner Tim Bishop is responsible for all major strategic decisions and has grown the firm by 1000% in 12 years. He sees himself as a businessman who owns a law firm and has plans for continued expansion.
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