Do I need a Conveyancing Solicitor to buy a house?
In this Halloween-themed article, Eloise Bishop explains why using a professional Conveyancing Solicitor will help you avoid any freaky frights in your property transaction!
While to some, conveyancing may seem like a dark art, there has been an increase in DIY conveyancing transactions in the UK. Although this may seem like a way of saving money, it can also be very risky and expose you to petrifying pitfalls and scary shocks that could turn your dream home into a house of horrors.
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What is conveyancing?
Conveyancing describes the legal process of buying a property and the land it is on. It involves transferring legal ownership from the seller to the buyer.
What does a Conveyancing Solicitor do?
The role of a Conveyancing Solicitor is to investigate the legal title for any hidden horrors. They will ensure that their client knows everything they need to know about the property, so there are no frightening surprises once the transaction goes through.
Exactly what conveyancers do may seem like a mystery, but our transparent approach will reveal the legal magic behind the conveyancing process.
Firstly, the Conveyancing Solicitor will carry out an identity check. This helps to prevent sinister offences such as money laundering and mortgage fraud. An ID check will reveal any phantom purchasers hidden in disguise.
Draft contract package
The solicitor acting for the seller will provide the draft contract pack to the buyer’s solicitor. This includes a draft contract of sale, the seller’s property information forms and any warranties, guarantees, planning permission and building control certificates. The pack also contains the title deeds and plan of the property.
Significantly, the job of the buyer’s solicitor is to check that the seller is able to transfer what he has been contracted to sell. The Conveyancing Solicitor will identify any spooky defects or problems raised by the title which could turn into a nightmare for the buyer.
While there are currently no official searches to check a house is haunted, built on an ancient burial ground or over the Upside Down, there are a number of searches the Conveyancing Solicitor will routinely carry out on all transactions. These are the Local Authority Search, Environmental Search and Water and Drainage Search. These important search results will reveal if there is something strange in your neighbourhood.
Local Authority Search
A ghastly amount of important information is revealed by a Local Authority Search. It shows details of planning permissions both granted or refused, building regulations as well as other factors like whether the property is situated in a conservation area or subject to a tree preservation order – especially important if the house is in an enchanted forest or next to a pumpkin patch!
Among other things, it checks for contamination, for example landfill sites nearby discharging hazardous substances. It also examines predictions of flooding. No swamp creatures here!
Water and Drainage Search
This search will reveal whether the property is connected to the public water supply and sewerage. Is there a spooky siren lurking in the water?
The Conveyancing Solicitor will raise enquiries based on the search results and the information contained in the draft contract pack.
The buyer’s solicitor will then use their legal magic to produce a Property Report for the client. This report includes information about the property they intend to purchase such as details relating to search results, the mortgage (if applicable), any restrictive covenants or rights of way. Is there a creepy crossroad used by local demons? Is there a shared Highway to Hell?
Once all is agreed, contracts are exchanged and the deposit is paid. It is at this point you are legally bound to complete the purchase. X marks the spot where you sign the contract!
This is the day the sale is finalised and the property is legally transferred to the buyer. The buyer’s solicitor will receive the mortgage advance from the lender. They then pay the balance of the sale price to the seller’s solicitor. Completion means that the house, ghosts and all, is yours!
This is the final stage of the conveyancing process. The Conveyancing Solicitor will arrange for any Stamp Duty Land Tax to be paid. They will register the buyer as the new owner with the HM Land Registry. Your ownership of the property is now set in stone!
This article from Citizens Advice summarises the conveyancing process and how to choose a conveyancer to do the legal work.
Can I do the conveyancing myself?
Most lenders will require you to appoint a solicitor if you are taking out a mortgage on the property.
If you are not using a mortgage, it is possible to do the conveyancing yourself. However, it is important you understand the added risks involved with DIY conveyancing transactions, otherwise they could come back to haunt you!
This article from the property website Zoopla outlines some of the dangers of DIY conveyancing.
Why do I need a conveyancing solicitor?
DIY conveyancing seems tempting to avoid solicitor fees. However, the complexity of the conveyancing process should not be underestimated. It demands a huge amount of time and effort and involves a frightening amount of paperwork. DIY conveyancing could drain the life out of you!
The DIY route also exposes you to a scary amount of risks. Any defects or issues relating to a property are much harder to spot by an untrained eye. If a potential problem is not spotted and dealt with, the purchase is likely to fall through, into the Upside Down.
Moreover, any mistakes made during the course of the conveyancing process will attract personal liability. The seller’s solicitor could take advantage of your lack of experience and you could in turn be sued. Unlike qualified professionals, you will not be protected by professional indemnity insurance, meaning you could incur significant extra costs. Thus, many would argue that opting for DIY conveyancing to avoid solicitors’ fees is not a risk worth taking. It could turn into a nightmare! Jeepers creepers!
The Homeowners Alliance outlines the potential risks of DIY conveyancing:
“There is also added risk to doing the legal work yourself. If you go through the process incorrectly, the seller’s solicitor could take advantage of your inexperience, you could be sued, and end up spending far more in legal and court fees than you would have done on a conveyancer.”
You will find that the cost of a conveyancing solicitor is far less scary than the potentially bone-chilling cost of resolving issues associated with DIY conveyancing.
How much does a conveyancing solicitor cost?
As with all professional services, the cost of conveyancing varies. At Crane & Staples, we are proud of our quality work and providing a professional, friendly and premium conveyancing service at a highly competitive price.
Our fees are fully transparent, so there are no scary surprises in your bill. For full details of our pricing, and to generate an instant fee estimate, please click here.
Can conveyancing be done online?
There are many online conveyancing services in the UK. However, there are potential problems if using one of these services. You may not receive the same quality, specialist advice that you would receive by instructing a reputable firm of solicitors. Some online conveyancing firms take on extremely high quantities of work, which may not suit your requirements of a conveyancer.
You should always check that the conveyancer you are instructing is properly insured and has verified accreditations and reviews. For example, a reputable conveyancing firm will be accredited by the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Service (CQS). They may also have other accreditations such as Lexcel. Whilst we are not members of any magical guilds, you can read about our other prestigious professional accreditations and awards here.
However, if it is your preference to manage the majority of your transaction remotely, we can use some modern magic to offer you a safer way of doing so. We can conduct online video calls with you to keep you updated on your matter and verify your identity. Our systems include a digital app and electronic signature software. This ensures you can track your case progress and sign any documents online, if you would prefer. We will always guide you through any electronic signing process and check your documents are signed correctly, so it is not a scary prospect.
How long does conveyancing take?
The average residential conveyancing matter takes between 8-12 weeks but this can vary. Of course, there are many different factors which will affect how long the process takes. For example, the process may be delayed due to there being a lengthy chain, problems with the property title, issues with the buyer’s mortgage application or a delay in getting the search results back.
We will always keep you updated and do our best to manage any delays that are beyond our control. We carefully shine a light on the process and safely guide clients through their conveyancing transaction, so there is no need to hide under the covers!
Your Local Conveyancing Solicitors
We are solicitors specialising in conveyancing and property law, in Welwyn Garden City, Hertfordshire. Whether you are buying a haunted mansion, a house on Elm Street or a cabin in the woods, we would be pleased to assist you with your property transaction.
We are the only law firm in Welwyn Hatfield ranked for Real Estate in the Chambers & Partners UK Guide. This legal guide profiles the best solicitors in each region of the UK. We are very proud to be part of it.
We are also ranked number 1 for Housing and Property Solicitors in Welwyn Hatfield, on the Review Solicitors website. You can read all our reviews here.
As a result, this positions us as one of the best Solicitors for Conveyancing in Hertfordshire.
Get in Touch
The Conveyancing Solicitors at Crane & Staples are experts in residential conveyancing and will use their legal magic to make sure your new property leaves you spell-bound, not spooked.
If you need a solicitor, in your neighbourhood, who you gonna call? Crane & Staples!