Posted on 12th July 2019

Do you Need a Solicitor to Buy a House

Martin Williamson, Director & Head of Residential Property
Martin Williamson, Director & Head of Residential Property

As the head of residential property at a longstanding law firm, and the author of this column, I know a thing or two about buying and selling homes. However, something I hear frequently is ‘why do I need a solicitor when moving to a new house?’

Anyone who has moved before will know that it is a stressful time, with a lengthy to-do list that can see even the most organised person feeling frazzled.

A solicitor is to buying a home what a Nepalese Sherpa is to climbing Everest - guiding you through the buying and selling process, with the ability to explain the journey you are undertaking and helping you navigate the potential legal issues that may come up. As they deal with hundreds of homebuyers every year, they are able to tell you exactly what you need to do at every stage of the purchase or sale and provide you with expert advice.

Legal queries can frequently pop up when buying a property, so buying or selling a home without help from a skilled conveyancing lawyer is a huge risk. There are several legal documents that need to be completed, which is both complicated and time-consuming, and can be daunting for those who have not come face to face with them before.

If you’re applying for a mortgage, your lender will insist that you hire conveyancing professional as part of the terms of the lending. Buying a home is one of the most expensive purchases you will make in your life, so it’s worth making sure your money is in safe hands.

Very occasionally things can go wrong during the process and having an experienced professional can lead to the resolution of these issues in a fairly painless manner. This can provide you with some much-needed peace of mind while you’re focussing on the logistics of your move.

When you’re purchasing, searches are the most well-known task conveyancing lawyers deal with. These are investigations to tell you and your mortgage provider about any little secrets the property holds before you buy. If anything abnormal is found, the solicitor can then advise you what needs to be done to resolve the issue. They will also be honest with you if there are problems that cannot be resolved.

When you’re selling, they’ll ask you all the ins and outs of your property, such as what alterations have been carried out, any instances of flooding, or issues you have reported with neighbours, so that your buyer can get a full picture of your property.

Your lawyer is also responsible for drawing up the contracts that form the legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller, protecting both parties from potentially being let down if the other person gets cold feet or a better offer. These contracts will be exchanged by the solicitors when everything is in order and a date has been agreed for completion – which is the day the keys to your new home will become available.

When completion day comes, your conveyancing lawyer will carry out all the necessary steps to ensure your purchase goes smoothly, including transferring the funds to the relevant accounts. They will also make the arrangements to pay any Stamp Duty Land Tax and register you as the legal the owner of the property with Land Registry.

As you can see, the conveyancing lawyer in an essential part of the buying and selling process. They are working away in the background to make sure you don’t have to deal with any legal headaches yourself.

Please note: This article is intended as guidance only. No responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by Latimer Hinks. In addition, no responsibility for loss occasioned/costs arising as a result of any act/failure to act on the basis of this article can be accepted by the firm.

By Martin Williamson, Head of Residential Property at Latimer Hinks Solicitors​