Whether you are buying or selling a property, you’ll need to choose a solicitor to assist you with the services for effectively transferring legal ownership of the house.
Choosing the right solicitor is important; knowing your legal work is in safe and professional hands will hopefully make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. A good one will keep you updated regularly, and can support you by answering questions about the process of buying a property.
A solicitor will:
· handle contracts
· give legal advice
· carry out local council searches
· deal with the Land Registry, and
· transfer the money to pay for your property.
What is a Solicitor?
Solicitor is a professional who provides legal services across a wide range of areas on different situations. They can help you resolve legal issues and can give you legal advice.
A property solicitor can act on a wide range of transactions - from residential, buy-to-let, commercial, land development and much more. Solicitor’s services during purchase or sale will include:
Reviewing your contract and title documents
Carrying out council searches like – local authority, land registry, water authority and environmental
Acting on behalf of your Lender
Giving advice and attending to repayment of your mortgage, if any
Reminding you on your obligations as an owner and advising you on all rights, reservations and restrictions that may affect the property
Drawing up and reviewing the contracts
Exchanging contracts and completion
Submitting your Stamp Duty Land Tax return and processing your payment of stamp duty
Completing the registration/transfer of the property into your name
Assisting in the completion of paperwork to be provided to the buyers’ solicitor
Dealing with the Land Registry
Completing and transferring the sale proceeds
Sending the buyer all of the original deeds and sale documentation
During these processes, you will need a good solicitor that will help ease the stresses of buying and selling a property. Luckily, there are a lot of ways to find yourself the right one – and here are some suggestions:
1. Do your research
Take a look on Google for local solicitors in your area. They don’t have to be nearby but it makes it easier for signing documents that must be done in person and helps you build and grow a relationship with them.
Make sure your chosen property solicitor is a member of the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme, a register of solicitors who are authorized and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.
Check out the Law Society’s official database search facility. This can help you find the nearest solicitors in your area, as well as details of their accreditations.
A more effective way of assessing a solicitor is by checking the feedback of the previous clients on the quality of the services they provided. If the solicitor has good reviews, it is likely that you are in safe hands.
Recommendations from friends and family is also a great idea. They might also have recently been through the house buying/selling process so can share some helpful tips and guidance with you, as well as an introduction to their solicitor if they enjoyed their experience with the one they instructed. If they had a happy and hassle-free transaction, at least you will get an idea of what you should expect on the legal service. If they had a poor experience, you can chose to exclude them for your short list.
Ask your lender, mortgage broker or Independent Financial Adviser (IFA) as well. They will have people they have worked with and can recommend.
3. Estate agents recommendations
Estate agents often have local solicitors list to recommend. They have a financial agreement for every client they pass over. Along with the agreement, there might be risky instances they will endorse a solicitor with a poor performance and service as long as they are offered a high referral fee rate.
However, there are also good estate agents that care about their own reputation. Their recommendation will save you extra hours of searching for the right solicitor as they have already evaluated the best ones with the best services.
4. Check the solicitors’ credentials
Take a look at how long and how well the law firm has been operating. Ask yourself if you had good service over the phone when you first enquired? Did you get a quick response? If you want to work with a particular person in the office, are they able to assist you?
Don’t be afraid to question to you solicitor about what experiences they have, their successful transactions and the qualifications they hold.
5. Legal Fees
Solicitors are usually more expensive than conveyancers as they offer a full range of legal services.
You can request a quote from a short-list and see how they each compare. Quotes can vary; some solicitors look at one or more of the below in order to decipher their fees -
· a percentage of the total price of the property
· a fixed fee
· by hourly rate
· some charge extra for completing the stamp duty return
· some charge for acting on behalf of your lender
Make sure that the quote you’ve requested includes all disbursements — for example, Land Registry and search fees and any stamp duty, etc.
It’s always tempting to go for the lowest fee estimate. However, a solicitor or a firm that gives you a quote at very low fees may not be able to provide you with the level of service you’re looking forward to. Afterall, you get what you pay for!
This is very crucial during the transaction process. Some solicitors can take ages to respond to your questions – which is bothersome. Your solicitor should assure you that they will get your instructions on regular basis and provide you with regular updates throughout the process. Keep in constant contact – by email and by phone. You may have even agreed to Whatsapp or use some other type of instant messenger app. Whatever you have agreed between you, ensure you are happy with the time in which you receive your replies and they way in which you are being communicated to.
Know where they are located. Using a solicitor or conveyancer near to your home or work makes it easier to drop off or collect documents if necessary; and there might be local arrangements or leases, which are unique to your area.