House-hunting is exciting; it’s not every day that you get to move somewhere new and get a fresh start. In our experience, everyone has a favourite part of the process. Some people enjoy the viewings and getting to picture themselves living a different lifestyle in each now home, while others seem to find the process of packing up and decluttering incredibly therapeutic.

Unsurprisingly, we seldom hear buyers claiming to enjoy the technical side of the purchase – the paperwork, the searches and the process of liaising and negotiating with the sellers for weeks on end. Of course, we understand; that’s what we’re here for.

We also understand that it’s not always clear what a solicitor or conveyancer actually does. Too often, we speak to customers that have come to us having been previously burned by an advisor that was difficult to get hold of or seemed to be pursuing the same issue for days at a time. To help buyers understand the need for legal representation, here’s a quick guide to what a surveyor does when you’re buying a property.

1 – Helping you understand the process. Solicitors and conveyancers are qualified professionals and will be your key contact for navigating the complicated waters of property law. They are particularly valuable for first-time buyers, as they can explain and simplify the various stages and requirements of the house-buying process.

2 – Conducting searches. It’s your solicitor’s responsibility to carry out certain investigations into the property you are buying, referred to as “searches”. These might typically include:

  • Making enquiries into the planning permission that has been obtained for the building;
    • Determining the quality (and history) of the ground beneath the house;
    • Establishing whether any neighbours or other third parties hold access rights;
    • Confirming the Listed Building Consent has been obtained, where relevant and;
    • Identifying if any development is planned which may affect the property.

If there are any problems or discrepancies, your solicitor or conveyancer will be able to advise you on the most suitable action. This is particularly important if you’re buying an old or unusual property, that may have a complicated legal history.

3 – Dealing with the legalities. Besides the sheer quantity of technical documents, there are numerous demands places on solicitors, such as providing undertakings to satisfy the buyer’s solicitors that the existing mortgage on the property will be removed. Failing to adhere to this undertaking is considered professional misconduct, and has severe penalties, and the nature of these agreements means that they must be provided by a qualified professional.

4 – Arranging your contract. Once they have resolved any legal problems that have cropped up, your solicitor will help you exchange contracts. This usually involves going through the items within your agreement and drawing your attention to any issues you need to be aware of, or actions that you should take before completing the purchase. Once you have signed the contract it becomes a legally binding sale, and there will be penalties if the sale is not completed on the stipulated date.

5 – Completing the sale. You solicitor will manage all the steps required to finalise your property purchase, such as transferring the funds, assisting with your tax return preparation, and making the arrangements for paying your Stamp Duty Land Tax to HMRC. On the day of completion, they will be handing you the keys, ready for you to enjoy your new home.

People occasionally ask whether it’s necessary to hire a solicitor, and the short answer is yes. There are certain processes that legally have to be undertaken by someone with a qualified understanding of the law, without which you cannot officially transfer the ownership of a building.

The good news is, working with a solicitor doesn’t have to be hard work! At Spencer Lockwood Conveyancing Ltd we understand that each buyer has certain priorities when it comes to moving to a new house, and we make sure to sit down with you to discuss exactly what you need. One of our experienced solicitors will begin working on your case straight away. With a track record of moving at the pace you need and communicating updates – before you know it, you’ll be walking into your new home.