A conveyancing solicitor plays one of the most important roles in the property purchase process, and choosing a good one is key to ensuring a smooth transaction. But what is a conveyancing solicitor and what do they do?

What is a conveyancing solicitor?

A conveyancing solicitor is a legal professional who specialises in property law and the transfer of property ownership. They play a crucial role in the process of buying or selling a property by handling the legal aspects involved.

What does a conveyancing solicitor do?

A conveyancing solicitor performs several tasks during a property transaction, including:

  • Property searches: They conduct searches with relevant authorities and organisations to uncover any potential issues or restrictions affecting the property, such as planning permissions, environmental concerns, or outstanding financial liabilities.
  • Drafting and reviewing contracts: They prepare or examine the legal contracts involved in the transaction, ensuring that the terms and conditions are accurate, fair, and protect the client’s interests.
  • Liaising with mortgage lenders: They communicate with the mortgage lender to coordinate the release of funds and ensure the necessary documentation is in place.
  • Handling stamp duty payments: They calculate the stamp duty tax payable on the property purchase and handle the payment process to the appropriate tax authorities.
  • Facilitating Land Registry transfers: They oversee the registration of the property transfer with the Land Registry, ensuring that the new ownership is legally recorded.
  • Managing financial transactions: They handle the transfer of funds between parties, including the payment of the purchase price, deposit, and any outstanding fees or taxes.
  • Providing legal advice and guidance: They offer professional advice and guidance to clients throughout the transaction, addressing any legal concerns and ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Overall, a conveyancing solicitor ensures that the property transaction proceeds smoothly, legally, and in the best interests of their client.

Why do I need a conveyancer?

While it is not a legal requirement to hire a conveyancer, there are several reasons why it is highly recommended. Firstly, navigating the legal aspects of property transactions can be challenging without the expertise and knowledge of a trained professional. Mistakes or oversights in the process could have significant financial or legal consequences.

Additionally, mortgage lenders often require the involvement of a trained conveyancer to mitigate their own risk. They want assurance that the property is legally sound and that all necessary checks and documentation have been completed accurately.

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How much does it cost for a conveyancing solicitor?

The cost of hiring a conveyancing solicitor can vary significantly depending on various factors such as the solicitor’s experience, location, the type of property being transacted (residential or commercial), and the complexity of the case. Some solicitors charge a fixed fee, while others may charge an hourly rate or a percentage of the property’s value.

It is recommended to obtain quotes from different solicitors and compare their services and fees. This allows you to select a conveyancing solicitor who offers a fair price for the specific requirements of your property transaction.

What costs are involved?

When using a conveyancing solicitor, there are several costs involved. These can include:

Solicitor’s fees

This is the primary cost and covers the services provided by the conveyancing solicitor. The fees can vary depending on factors such as the complexity of the transaction, the value of the property, and the solicitor’s experience.

Search fees

These fees cover the cost of conducting various property searches, such as local authority searches, environmental searches, and drainage searches. The fees can vary depending on the location and the number of searches required.

Land Registry fees

These fees are payable to the Land Registry for registering the change of ownership of the property. The amount is based on the property’s value and can vary.

Stamp Duty Land Tax

This is a tax levied by the government on property purchases above a certain threshold. The amount is calculated based on the property value and the prevailing stamp duty rates at the time of purchase.

Additional disbursements

These are additional costs incurred during the conveyancing process, such as bank transfer fees, property fraud checks, and property survey fees.

It’s important to discuss and clarify the costs with your chosen conveyancing solicitor upfront to have a clear understanding of the overall expenses involved in your specific property transaction.

How to choose a conveyancing solicitor

To choose a solicitor for your property transaction, consider the following points:

  • Recommendations: Seek recommendations from trusted sources, such as friends, family, or colleagues who have recently used a solicitor for a property transaction.
  • Reviews: Read online reviews and testimonials to gain insights into the reputation and service quality of potential solicitors.
  • Recommendations from professionals: Consider seeking recommendations from professionals involved in the transaction, such as mortgage brokers or estate agents who have experience working with solicitors.
  • Terms and policies: Enquire about the solicitor’s terms, including whether they offer a “no completion, no fee” policy. Also, find out if they charge abortive fees if a sale falls through and whether their fees are applicable to subsequent property transactions.
  • Total costs: Discuss and clarify the solicitor’s total costs, including their fees and any additional disbursements or potential hidden costs.
  • Expertise and specialisation: Ensure the solicitor specialises in conveyancing and has experience with transactions similar to yours, whether it’s residential, commercial, or leasehold property.
  • Communication and responsiveness: Look for a solicitor who communicates effectively, responds promptly to your queries, and keeps you informed throughout the process.
  • Accreditation and professional memberships: Check if the solicitor is a member of recognised professional bodies such as the Law Society’s Conveyancing Quality Scheme (CQS) or the Council for Licensed Conveyancers.
  • Accessibility and location: Consider the solicitor’s location, as local solicitors may have better knowledge of the area and easier access to local authorities.
  • Personal connection: Trust your instincts and choose a solicitor with whom you feel comfortable and confident in their abilities.

Obtain quotes from multiple solicitors, compare their services and costs, and take the time to evaluate their suitability for your specific requirements before making a decision. By considering these factors, you can make an informed decision when selecting a solicitor for your property transaction.

What details to I need to provide to get a quote?

To obtain a quote from a conveyancing solicitor, you typically need to provide the following details:

  • Property details: Include the address and type of the property (e.g., residential or commercial), as well as any specific characteristics that may impact the transaction, such as leasehold or shared ownership. It’s important to also state if the property is freehold or leasehold, note that share of freehold flats will still count as leasehold even though they have a share in the freehold.
  • Transaction type: Specify whether you are buying or selling the property, or both (if it’s a simultaneous transaction).
  • Purchase or sale price: Provide the estimated purchase or sale price of the property.
  • Mortgage details: If you are obtaining a mortgage, provide information about the lender and the loan amount.
  • Additional services: If you require any additional services, such as help with lease extensions, new build purchases, or shared ownership, mention them to ensure an accurate quote.

How long does the conveyancing process take?

The average duration of the conveyancing process for houses or flats can vary based on several factors. Typically, the process takes around 8-12 weeks, but it can be longer or shorter depending on the complexity of the transaction and various circumstances involved.

Some factors that can affect the timeline include:

  • Property chain: If the transaction is part of a chain where multiple properties are being bought and sold, the process may take longer to coordinate all parties involved.
  • Mortgage approval: If you require a mortgage, the timeline can be influenced by the lender’s approval process, including the completion of necessary assessments and paperwork.
  • Property searches: The time it takes to conduct property searches can vary depending on the local authority and other relevant organisations involved.
  • Legal complexities: If there are legal complexities associated with the property, such as leasehold arrangements or title issues, it may require additional time to resolve them.
  • Buyer and seller cooperation: The efficiency of communication and cooperation between the buyer, seller, and their respective solicitors can impact the overall timeline.

It’s important to note that these timeframes are estimates, and the actual duration can vary depending on the specific circumstances of each transaction. Looking to purchase a house? Get in touch with our expert mortgage brokers today.