Buying a property for the first time comes with a lot of “Firsts”. You will welcome the first time your offer is accepted, the first time you hold your keys in your hand, and the first night in your new home…
Some of these firsts are exciting, others may be a bit more daunting, which is why you want to ensure that your property lawyer, also known as a conveyancer or solicitor, is there every step of the way. They will work through all the legal stages of the transaction, to get you through to Exchange of Contracts, this means that your purchase is legally binding, and then to Completion, the day that you can have the keys.
You are paying your lawyer to represent you and your interests in purchasing your home, so let’s dive into the in's and out's of what working with a property lawyer means.
First thing your lawyer needs to do is to confirm who you are. They will cross-check your identity with your ID documents and may also carry out an online check and a detailed security call. Getting this correct at the outset avoids delays later.
Setting timescales is important. The legal process of buying a home can be unpredictable. Each transaction is as unique as its buyers, and the truthful answer is that when you instruct a lawyer, they do not know what day you will move in. That said, share your ideal move in date with your lawyer, and they will do all they can to get you there.
Work out what you are buying. Your seller is required to provide you with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) and a Property Information Form (TA6). These provide you with detailed information about the property, energy use and costs. They are also obligated to tell you about any structural issues or property defects they know about. However, a buyer is not always aware of potential problems with their property, so it’s vital that you obtain a survey. It is an upfront cost, but could save you money further down the line.
Countrywide Surveying Services have a range of surveys to choose from, speak to them today to find out more.
What do Searches tell you? Don’t worry, your lawyer will arrange a set of Searches on your property, including a Local, Environmental and Drainage Search. The Local Search will tell you everything that the local council knows about the property. An Environmental Search tells you about flood risk and previous usage of the land. This is important when assessing if there is any risk of contaminated land. The Drainage Search provides you with information about water supply and sewer connections. Once you have the results, your lawyer is there to discuss the results of the Searches and what to do next.
Paperwork is important. Even in today’s digital age, there are certain documents in a property transaction that must be signed on paper. It feels very formal, but is the way to seal a property transaction. You will need to sign the transfer deed, known as the TR1. This is the document that transfers ownership of the property once you complete. Your lawyer will arrange all necessary documentation with you, including contracts and any paperwork that is needed if you are getting a mortgage.
Talking of money. Your lawyer will calculate and arrange with you the transfer of your deposit and final funds to get the property transaction to exchange and finally completion. This is often an exciting time but filled with anticipation. On the one hand, you’re getting close to moving in, and on the other you can see your savings transferred out of your account. It is all very real.
You must have a lawyer to represent you in your purchase if you are getting a mortgage. A lawyer can play a vital part in making the process as easy as possible. If you’re still looking for a conveyancer, we can help. We have specialist property lawyers who are passionate about helping our customers. Conveyancing is what we do, and every year we are trusted to help thousands of buyers and sellers with the legal side of moving home.