The first time buyer’s guide to conveyancing
You have found your dream first home, the finances are in place and the sale is agreed. Now you just have to find a good conveyancing solicitor. But how do you go about choosing a conveyancer tailored to first time buyers? And why do you need a conveyancer in the first place? This brief guide covers all you need to know about conveyancing as a first time buyer.
What is a conveyancing solicitor?
A conveyancing solicitor transfers the ownership of property from the vendor to you – legally. This involves a variety of steps, some required by law, others required by your mortgage lender, and all of which lead to watertight ownership of your new home.
These steps include checking the legal title of the vendor (their right to sell the property to you) and making various searches. A local search is compulsory unless you are a cash buyer, although you can still benefit from one if you are buying in cash. Other searches may include water and drainage, coal and environmental searches. All of these can throw up information that influences your decision to purchase, as well as your lender’s decision to loan on the property.
Conveyancing steps also include the issue of property information forms, which your vendor must fill in truthfully. These cover all aspects of the property, including any notifiable building works and any disputes with neighbours.
The conveyancer will deal with your mortgage lender, register your (and their) interest in the property with the Land Registry and deal with the transfer of funds between you, your vendor, your mortgage lender, HMRC for Stamp Duty and themselves for their services.
If there are any issues with the transaction, it is your conveyancer who should advise you on how to proceed. That is why, as a first time buyer, you need to choose a conveyancing solicitor that offers a personal service and who you can trust to act in your best interests.
How to choose a good conveyancing solicitor as a first time buyer
There are a number of considerations when choosing a conveyancing solicitor as a first time buyer. With such a big commitment ahead of you, you need to feel confident that you choose the right company for your needs.
Funds are tight when buying your first home and many first time buyers try to scrimp on the costs they have control over. Conveyancing is one of those costs, with prices ranging from just a few hundred pounds to many thousands. In conveyancing, fees are not always an indicator of quality, with some of the lower cost options being faster and more efficient than more expensive firms. Find a conveyancing solicitor that offers low fees, a no sale – no fee guarantee and no hidden costs. They should also promise a fast service and be willing to use modern technology effectively (surprisingly few do).
2. A personal service
As a first time buyer, you are going to have plenty of questions and worries. Nothing is worse than being kept in the dark over such a major financial decision. A good conveyancer will have someone dedicated to dealing with you, who has ready access to your files and who is experienced and qualified to answer all of your queries.
3. Use a local conveyancing solicitor
There is a lot to be said for a conveyancing solicitor that knows the local market. Many national online companies can stumble over local peculiarities, like access rights in terraced back lanes. If you live in London, then a London based conveyancing solicitor is better than a Manchester one. That being said, many conveyancing solicitors have reciprocal agreements with conveyancers in other areas, so if you find a firm you like at a price you are happy with, find out if they do operate on a national basis via local solicitors.