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What Does Your Solicitor Do, when you buy and/or sell property?

WHAT DOES YOUR SOLICITOR DO, WHEN YOU BUY AND/OR SELL PROPERTY?

When you buy and/or sell property, what exactly are you getting when you hand over fees to your solicitor? It’s not always obvious. While you know exactly what you’re getting with, say, a man and van service, it may be less apparent just what a solicitor is doing for you. Sometimes, what with all the other demands on your time and your wallet, you can end up wondering why you even need to have one. What is the solicitor actually up to and how is it helping to usher along the moving-house process?

Your solicitor is responsible for the conveyancing process. The first stage of this begins when you and your solicitor meet and you “instruct” him/her to do the work. A contract will be signed between both parties and your solicitor will make contact with the seller’s solicitor to ask for copies of contracts and other documents, such as the title deeds. Meanwhile, you can get on with booking your man with a van.

Your solicitor will go over the draft contract and additional documents and then “raise enquiries”. You will be asked to go over the documents, too, and tell your solicitor if you have any issues, concerns or queries.

It also falls to your solicitor to help you find out things about the property you’re buying which cannot be ascertained merely from viewing it. A series of legal searches, conducted by your solicitor, can help to find out information which your mortgage company may want, too. These include local authority searches, searches with the Land Registry, assessing flood risk, searches with the water company, environmental searches to determine things like contaminated land, and other miscellaneous searches conducted with local authorities and organisations, all to find out whether there are issues that have or may have an impact on your property or land.

Your solicitor helps with getting your mortgage in place, arranging additional surveys and helping to get your buildings insurance organised. 

Then comes the matters of signing and exchanging contracts. Your solicitor will make sure that before the contracts are signed, you are satisfied that all your enquiries have been answered and that a completion date has been agreed. Between exchanging contracts and completion, your solicitor will help to ensure everything goes smoothly. This may involve your solicitor and the seller’s solicitor reading out the contracts over the telephone to ensure that they are identical. Other tasks your solicitor will undertake include post-completion work such as helping you with the Stamp Duty process and sending a copy of the title deeds to your mortgage lender. 

The above is by no means everything your solicitor does, but it gives you, we hope, the gist. Your solicitor, provided he or she is good and reputable, will be busy at work on your behalf rather than simply twiddling his thumbs and then sending you a bill.