If you’re buying a house, you’re no doubt confused. That’s because nobody ever tells you how to do this stuff and even if they try to help, you only really learn properly when you do it yourself.
But you probably know you need a solicitor. Whoever you choose, your solicitor will play a key role in helping you buy your house. So it is really important that you choose the right person to represent you. Not doing so can cause you all sorts of problems, including extra costs and a longer wait time.
But how do you choose who should be your solicitor? Here’s our advice.
What does a solicitor do during the house buying process?
Your solicitor is involved in every part of the house buying process from when you make an offer until the day your home is finally yours.
As soon as you instruct them as your representative, they’ll start to draw up your draft contract, sometimes known as the terms of engagement. This clearly lays out the terms of the exchange, including what fixtures and fittings will remain in the house.
They’ll then contact the seller’s solicitor to request a draft of their contract, plus any other relevant paperwork.
They’ll also raise queries with the seller’s legal representative, and negotiate contractual terms (for example if the survey reveals issues with your home).
At some point, the solicitor will perform legal property searches to make sure there are no issues you need to be aware of before you buy, such as:
- local authority searches,
- land registry searches,
- water authority searches,
- chancel repair search,
- environmental search,
- and location specific searches.
They’ll check your mortgage conditions, and make sure you have the funds for a deposit.
When everything is sorted and you are ready to exchange contracts, the solicitor will draw up the final contract based on their discussions with you and the seller’s solicitor along the way. They’ll include a moving date in the contract.
Once you have exchanged contracts, you are legally bound to the sale. You are not legally responsible for your home, even if you don’t receive your keys until a specified moving date. Your solicitor should make sure you have business buildings insurance in place at this point.
Finally, they’ll receive both the deposit funds from you and the mortgage funds from the lender, then transfer them appropriately to complete the sale.
How do I choose a solicitor?
As you can see, solicitors have a large part to play in the purchase of a house, so it is really important you choose the right one. But how do you do that?
It is highly likely you know someone who has bought a house, so ask people you know which solicitor they used. More importantly, ask them whether that firm was good or not.
Add good solicitors to your list of people to approach and bad solicitors to your list of people to avoid.
There’s no better review than that of someone who cares for you, so listen to what people say and take them seriously.
Collect more than one quote
It’s tempting to go with the first person you like, but you should shop around to find out whether you are being overcharged or not. Ring around three or four different solicitor’s firms and shop for a fair price.
Don’t just go for the cheapest
You get what you pay for in most scenarios, so the cheapest solicitor might not be the best option for you. You should choose your solicitor based on merit and reputation, not based on how cheaply they can offer you a service.
Don’t just take your estate agent’s recommendation
Estate agents sometimes strike a deal with solicitors for recommending their services. If you automatically go with your estate agent’s suggestion, you cannot be sure you are getting the best service. Investigate them, sure, but don’t choose them for no other reason except that an estate agent suggested them.
Choose a local solicitor
Not only is this good for your locality generally, but local solicitors are likely to have a very good local knowledge that will come in handy when they are trying to help you buy your house.
Remember, your solicitor is there to help you, so they should be on your side. That means they are highly likely to let you know if there are any serious issues with purchasing the property you want.
Communication is vital during this process and so you want to be sure your solicitor is going to communicate with you regularly, or else you might find yourself repeatedly calling them for an update. We know you’re too busy for that and, quite frankly, why should you have to? You’re paying them.
JMR Solicitors can help
JMR Solicitors have an experienced conveyancing team who can help you with your purchase. For a quote, call 0161 491 3933 or email email@example.com.