Your legal dilemmas solved!


I am a first time buyer and, after a couple of years of saving, at last I have a big enough deposit to buy a house. However, I don’t fully understand what happens – and when; can you talk me through the process please?

Once you have worked out how much you can borrow, you can start house hunting in earnest.  You probably have a rough idea of what your price range is, but you should also budget for legal fees.

 In terms of legal fees, is it best to shop around for the cheapest conveyancer, as it is just procedural steps?

 The short answer is, no! I suggest you ask the estate agent or family and friends to recommend a local solicitor and then call them for an estimate. Assuming there is an up to date Home Information Pack, the basic searches (local and water) should already be available, which means that the solicitor will quote for his fee (plus VAT), stamp duty and the land registry fee, together with any additional searches which may be  appropriate or useful. It’s really important to find a solicitor who sounds proactive and helpful – and don’t be afraid to ask about his or her qualifications. You should be aware that many of the large ‘call centres’ are staffed by people with no legal qualifications.  

What will the solicitor do for me, in a nut shell? 

Your solicitor will check your ID and speak to the estate agent and the seller’s solicitor. He will check the Home Information Pack and, once received, he will copy to you the contract and Property Information Form as well as the Fixtures Fittings and Contents Form. He will check through the title and ask you to confirm that the plan in the deeds correctly shows the property.  He will also check through your survey result and mortgage offer with you; there is a lot of paperwork which has to be examined carefully. Once all is in order, you can pay the deposit and sign the contract and proceed to exchange.

What does that mean?

On exchange, both you and the seller are committed and the completion (moving) date is fixed. On that date you can collect the keys from the estate agent – and you will then be a home owner!

Philippa’s on 01603 627201 for more info.

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