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How to choose a solicitor for a house purchase

Video Script

Hi if we haven’t met before, my name is Dan, I am a CeMAP qualified mortgage & protection adviser. This video is purely for educational purposes only, and should not be seen as advice or a recommendation to act and I must stress your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up with the repayments on the mortgage.

Please stick around to the end of this video to also listen to potential setbacks. These are equally as important and something you need to be aware of.

The first question you’ll be asked when you put in an offer on a property is the name and contact details of your chosen solicitor or conveyancer.

Conveyancing is the legal term for transferring ownership of property, whether you are buying or selling.

A solicitor or conveyancer will:
Handle contracts
Give legal advice where necessary
Carry out local council searches
Deal with the Land Registry, and transfer the funds to pay for your property

Solicitors are usually more expensive than conveyancers and are qualified lawyers, so they can offer a full range of legal services. Conveyancers specialise in property so can’t deal with complex legal issues.

How to choose a solicitor or conveyancer.

Ask friends or family if they have recently had any experience, there is not going to be a better way to find a reliable company to handle your house purchase than word of mouth.

Ask your mortgage broker, lender, or Independent Financial Adviser. They also have plenty of experience dealing with solicitors and conveyancers. Something to be mindful of is sometimes recommendations are made as they receive a referral fee for passing on any business.

Your local estate agent also often has similar arrangements, they too can recommend a solicitor as in the majority of cases, they have made a partnership with another company to refer their business to.

Something which has grown to be quite popular in recent years is online conveyancing. You will only deal with them by phone, email, or post but this often works out to be cheaper.

Make sure your chosen property specialist is a member of the relevant governing body applicable to the country you’re buying in, in the UK. As England and Wales have a different governing body to Scotland.

Something you also need to be aware of, is lenders have a panel of conveyancers that they will accept. This can on occasions make appointing a legal team before applying for a mortgage a bit tricky as you may not already be placed with a lender.

How much does a solicitor or conveyancer charge?

They charge in 3 different ways:
A fixed fee.
An hourly rate.
Or a percentage of the property price.

Try to get quotes from different firms on the cost of their service and do not be afraid to negotiate the price.

Make sure the quotes breakdown all costs including the searches, also allowing for VAT, so you’re comparing like with like.

They should also cover in their breakdown:
Bank transfer fees
Land Registry fees
and Stamp Duty on properties where applicable

Other things to consider when appointing a solicitor or conveyancer

As this likely to be the biggest debt you will owe, you will want to make sure the service you receive is the best and that they communicate well.

Find out the best times and ways to contact them and check if they have any holidays booked for the forseeable future and make sure you know who will be stepping in if they are away on holiday or off sick.

Check if they have a system allowing you to track how the purchase is progressing. Sometimes you will have to pay a fee to access this. This is entirely up to you if you wish to pay, do not feel pressured into doing so if you’re happy to communicate with them by email or telephone.

Where are they located?

Using a solicitor or conveyancer near to your home or work makes it easier to drop off or collect documents if necessary.

Having said that, if you have a mortgage adviser, such as myself, then you shouldn’t need to ever visit or speak to the solicitor or conveyancer as we are able to do this for you, along with certifying all of the relevant documents that they will need.

So it is ultimately your choice. Online conveyancers can offer speed and efficiency, as well as typically being cheaper. Whereas a high street solicitor can offer a full range of legal services and you’re able to sit down with them face to face to ask any questions that you may have.

Now I wouldn’t be doing my job properly if I didn’t mention the potential setbacks when purchasing a property and I feel it is important to manage your expectations at an early stage as sometimes we can all get a bit carried away at times, only to end up heartbroken.

Buying and selling homes can be a frustrating process and there are bound to be setbacks along the way.

These include but are not limited to:

The seller dropping out

This can be very frustrating. You can ask them for a contribution towards your legal fees, but they are under no obligation to pay.

Uncommunicative solicitor

This why it is important to carry out a sensible amount of research and read testimonials. If your friends or family recommend a solicitor, then they must have been satisfied with the service.

Being gazumped

This is when someone else offers to pay more than the offer you’ve had accepted. This can be prevented once your offer has been accepted. It is generally frowned upon for the seller to be still listening to offers, and hopefully, the estate agents will take the property off the market. Once you have had an offer accepted, you will start to pay fees, so this is important you make sure no more offers are allowed to be made.

If you’re in a chain, sometimes the price you may have to pay for a property can change, this is usually down to the seller being offered a smaller mortgage than required, so they need the shortfall to be added to the property value.

Problems found during a survey.

Old and new properties constantly need maintenance. A survey is designed to highlight any problems with a property, and problems can be quite common. Some are more severe than others and this is where you would need professional advice on the next steps to take.

This is why I feel that the job I do is important. A good mortgage adviser will be aware of the setbacks and will make sure you are not spending hundreds of pounds before it is absolutely necessary.

If you’d like my help obtaining a mortgage, please contact me, my details are also below.

Also, not expected or necessary but sometimes I am contacted to ask how you can thank me for producing helpful videos, if you’d like to do this, you can buy me a coffee using the link below.

Check out this video to make sure you avoid making the 10 most common mistakes which are made when buying a property.

Remember, your home may be repossessed if you do not keep up with the repayments on the mortgage.

See you next week.

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