The legal process of buying a home, otherwise called conveyancing, can seem confusing. Whether you’re buying your first home or have purchased properties before, dealing with the legalities of what is likely to be your biggest purchase to date may be a daunting prospect. Let’s face it, very few people do it every day!
So, we’re shedding some light on the three biggest conveyancing myths to hopefully help sift the fact from the fiction when it comes to the legal element of buying your next property…
1) I need to use a conveyancer who is close to the property I’m buying
These days so much of the conveyancing process is done online, for example conducting the necessary searches, that you don’t actually need to use a solicitor or conveyancer who is physically based in the same area as the property you’re purchasing, as the correspondence element can easily be handled either by post or online. Of course, some people prefer to actually meet the person who will be dealing with their legal paperwork, and that’s fine too. But it’s up to you to choose what works best for you. Also, it pays to shop around to see who will offer you the better deal, as some firms charge more than others. Make sure you get all quotes in writing, and that they clearly state what’s included, and what will be charged as extra.
2) My conveyancer will arrange my survey for me
This does happen, but not often. If you’re buying a home with a mortgage, your mortgage lender will require a mortgage valuation on the property to ensure that it’s worth what you’re borrowing. In these cases, the lender will arrange for the mortgage valuation, but this is conducted purely for their benefit, not yours. If you wanted a survey on the condition of the property, then this is something that you’ll pay extra for and need to arrange yourself. It may be that the surveyor who carries out the mortgage valuation can also do your survey for you, but it’s up to you to liaise with the surveyor to arrange this. That all said, some solicitors or conveyancers will liaise with the surveyor on your behalf, but not all of them do, so it’s best to check up front when you engage with them to see if this is something they can help you with, and if so how much they’ll charge for doing so.
3) Once the contract has been signed it is legally binding
This isn’t true. The contracts on the purchase of your property are only legally binding once they are formally exchanged by your solicitor or conveyancer with the other party. This only happens when you have given specific permission (or what’s called ‘express authority’) to do so. It’s worth knowing that you may have to give your authority to exchange contracts more than once, for example if the exchange was due to take place the previous day but didn’t – which often happens – your solicitor or conveyancer will come back to you and then ask for your authority to exchange again on another day. If this happens, it’s not that your lawyer isn’t being efficient, they are simply following best practice as, at the end of the day, this is a legal process and a lot of money is involved so they just want to make sure that they are correctly following your instructions.
You can find a Solicitor or Licensed Conveyancer to help you with the purchase of your new home by going on either the Law Society’s website (www.lawsociety.org.uk) or the Council of Licenced Conveyancers website (www.clc-uk.org).