What is a conveyancing solicitor?
In a nutshell, a conveyancing solicitor conducts the legal process that transfers (conveys) property ownership from one person to another. They do the legal legwork: preparing and checking documents, communicating with other solicitors across the chain, organising searches (more on this later) and fact finding about the property you’re buying.
What’s the difference between a conveyancing solicitor and a solicitor?
Conveyancing solicitors specialise in property law and solely focus on property sales and purchases. Although it’s possible for any type of solicitor to act on your behalf, the benefit of using a specialist means the home move process is usually faster and more efficient.
What exactly does a conveyancing solicitor do for you during the home move process?
Draft contract: One of the first things your conveyancing solicitor does is check the draft contract prepared by the seller’s solicitor. The draft contract covers information such as the price you have agreed, deposit amount and any important facts about the title deed (this is a document kept by HM Land Registry detailing current and previous ownership of the property and land), such as boundaries. They also run ID checks on the seller to make sure they are entitled to sell the property.
Searches: Your conveyancing solicitor also conducts searches on your behalf. These searches highlight any issues regarding the property you’re buying in order for you to make an educated decision about your purchase.
Searches are also required by mortgage providers – optional if you’re a cash buyer but strongly recommended.
Some properties will need more searches than others, depending on the type of property and its surroundings, but typically there are three main types: local authority searches, environmental searches and water and drainage searches.
- Local authority searches include information about planning permission, e.g. if there’s a new block of flats about to be built next door you’ll want to know about it. Local authority searches will also uncover any road or rail plans.
- Environmental searches focus on information such as flooding, subsidence or contaminated land issues. Again you’ll want to know if the property has ever been flooded.
- Water and drainage searches check that the property you plan to buy is connected to public water and sewer supplies. These searches will also highlight public drains or sewers running through the property – useful to know if you plan to extend your home at any point.
Enquiries: Your conveyancing solicitor will raise enquiries with the seller’s solicitors. Enquiries are a bit like a back and forth Q&A between the solicitors. Their aim is to ensure the property you buy is mortgageable and sellable. If for example there’s an extension on the property that hasn’t been signed off by building regs or the documents can’t be found your solicitor may require the seller to take out an indemnity insurance. This means you’ll have all the correct documents and peace of mind should you go on to sell the property.
Report on Title: Once your conveyancing solicitor has finished the searches and the enquiries they’ll put all the information they’ve gathered into a document called a Report on Title. This really important document helps you make your final decision about your home buy.
How do I choose the right conveyancing solicitor?
The million dollar question! Get recommendations, read the Trust Pilot reviews, choose a conveyancing solicitor that is responsive, make sure there are no hidden fees – sometimes the ‘best deal’ isn’t all that because of the extras tacked on.
Get in touch today if you want to buy or sell your home quickly and easily.