What is a solicitor’s role when buying a home?
If you’re considering buying a new home, then you’ll be aware that you’ll need the services of a ‘solicitor’. You might also be thinking, what is the role of a solicitor and why do I need one?
The prospect of buying your first home or moving home, can be quite daunting. But don’t worry, Gleeson and your solicitor are both here to help you through the process.
We’ve put together this handy blog to explain how and why a solicitor is an integral part of your home buying journey and how they can help to ensure that your experience is straightforward and as stress free as possible.
What is a solicitor?
A solicitor is “a member of the legal profession qualified to deal with legal matters”. When buying a home you’ll be using a conveyancing solicitor. When you purchase a home from us, we will need to legally transfer the home over to you, once the funds have dropped into our account. Transferring over this ownership, is called conveyancing. So, a conveyancing solicitor is someone who specialises in this specific area of law and deals with this transaction for you.
What does a conveyancing solicitor do?
When you reserve your new Gleeson home, your Sales Executive will most likely ask you for the contact details for your solicitor. Gleeson can recommend solicitors to you, or you can choose your own.
You’re always best checking with your solicitor directly about what they will cover for you, but typically they will:
- Handle contracts
- Conduct property searches
- Transfer the funds and finalise completion
- Offer relevant legal advice
Within this process there are two main milestones to keep in mind, the exchange of contracts and the completion. Your solicitor will do all the nitty gritty things and hopefully all you’ll need to do is sit back, listen, absorb all the info and sign on the dotted lines.
Your solicitor will go through the draft contract and any supporting forms with you. They’ll be there to answer any questions and note down any queries you have. They will then save you a job, and contact us directly to clarify all of this. They’ll make sure the contract is fair, that your deposit is fully protected and cover all the little details.
When the contracts have been agreed, this is when you will sign in readiness to exchange contracts. When contracts are exchanged you will need to put down a deposit of between five and ten percent depending on whether this is your first home, or you’ve just sold a property.
At exchange the transaction becomes legally binding. Both you and us are then contractually bound to finalise the sale of your new home. This normally happens six to eight weeks after you’ve reserved your new home.
In order to speed up the process we will supply your solicitor with a number of searches carried out specifically on your plot by an independent search provider. Your solicitor will check these for you, just to check that everything is in place and how it should be with the sale of your new home.
They may mention the term local authority search. All this means is that they will look at information held by the local authority involving the property you are purchasing. They’ll look into planning permissions or restrictions and who is responsible for maintaining the roads, paths, sewers and all things construction related. Not only will they cover local authority searches but they will also check the land registry, just to confirm that we – the seller is the legal owner of the property you are buying.
They’ll make you aware of any covenants that are in place once you move in. Covenants are standard for new developments when buying a new build home, and we apply these so we can protect the look and feel of your new development. We have a handy covenant guide that our Sales Executive will give you, but make sure to discuss this with your solicitor too.
Your new home is likely to be freehold. This means that you and only you own and are responsible for the building and the land that it stands on outright and in perpetuity. It is your name that is on the land registry as ‘freeholder’, owing the ‘title absolute’.
Leasehold means that you just have a lease from the freeholder (sometimes called landlord) to use the home for a number of years. In these circumstances, leases are often anything between 90 and 999 years, but it does mean that you might have to pay maintenance fees to the freeholder.
Leasehold is much more common on apartments and areas where there are communal areas.
If there are any other searches your solicitor feels necessary in addition to the ones we send to them, they’ll of course let you know and cover them for you.
Once your solicitor has reviewed the searches and advised you on them and any other matters such as the covenants then you are ready to exchange contracts. As previously outlined, this is where you become legally committed to buying the property and when you pay the deposit.
Now this is the exciting part. Legal completion is when a property transaction is legally finalised and you get the keys to your new home. This is the final stage of the process and takes place when our solicitor tells yours that we have received your monies. Your solicitor will arrange for the transfer of monies and will also make sure that any stamp duty is also paid to HMRC.
Stamp duty is a Government tax on buying a property over a certain price bracket, and is only applicable if the price of the home you’re buying is over the relevant threshold. However, due to the affordability of our homes, and the fact that many of our customers are first time buyers (where the threshold is higher than for people who have previously owned a property), we find that the majority of our customers do not have to pay stamp duty.
Upon completion, we’ll handover the keys, any documents you need, appliance warranties and owner manuals so that you are all prepped to be a homeowner!
Following completion your solicitor will register you as the owner at the Land Registry, it can take several weeks for the Land Registry to complete this process. Once it has been completed your solicitor will send you a copy of the updated entry with the Land Registry showing you as the owners of your new home.
The devil really is in the detail, which is why a solicitor is key in the home buying journey. You don’t need to worry about the ins and outs, as that is what the professionals are for but it’s great to be informed about what exactly your solicitor is employed to do and the role they will have in buying your dream home.
We hope our solicitor guide has helped you become a little bit more clued up on the legal side of buying a home. Remember, you can always ask our Sales Executives if you have any further questions.
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