Why Do I Need A Solicitor To Buy My House?

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Buying a house is one of the most stressful life events we can ever undertake.


First, you have to find your dream home (potentially viewing numerous properties on the way), then you need to make an offer for the house you want (potentially bidding more than the asking price to try and have your offer accepted) and then after all of this you will probably have to sell your existing house in time in order to pay for the new one.

So as we can see, timing is everything and if one thing fails the whole chain will collapse around you and you probably won’t be able to buy the property you have your heart set on.

In addition to these timing issues, for most of us buying a house is also the largest financial purchase we will ever undertake. This will therefore involve the stress of dealing with Financial Institutions to try and obtain approval for a mortgage in order to pay for your new home. This will require you to gather up all of your financial affairs and then wait for approval from your chosen lending institution. What happens if they don’t value your current home highly enough and you now don’t have a large enough deposit to meet the Bank’s criteria for a mortgage? What happens if you have found your dream home and then can’t get approval on a mortgage?

With both Time and Money involved as we try to buy a new home for our family, we have two very good ingredients for stress!

Once you have agreed the purchase of your new house and put your mortgage in place you aren’t out of the woods yet as you will need to get a solicitor onboard in order to complete the transaction. You may wonder why you actually need a solicitor as surely you just need to sign a few forms and you are done?

It would be great if things were as simple as this in life, although unfortunately anything to do with people and land can lead to all sorts of complications. When you buy a new home the latin phrase “caveat emptor” (Buyer Beware) is especially true!

It is up to you and you alone to make sure that what you are buying fits in with your understanding of what you are actually buying and that you understand any conditions or limitations imposed upon the property.

To get this right you need to employ the services of a Solicitor experienced in residential conveyancing. Too much is at stake if things go wrong. For example:

  • first and foremost, has the seller the legal title to actually sell the property?
  • has the current owner made any alterations to the property leaving it structurally unsound?
  • does the owner have all necessary building certifications and abided by all necessary regulations (it is worth noting that ignorance is not a valid excuse in the eyes of the law – so if you buy a house without knowing something tough luck, it is up to you to deal with it and this could potentially see you having to pay to have specific actions rectified?
  • are there any rights of way crossing the property?
  • has planning permission recently been granted for a new factory right beside the house?
  • is a new motorway due to be built within close proximity?

As you can imagine this list isn’t exhaustive and your solicitor will keep you right.

Another consideration that you will need to be aware of when you buy your new home is the whole subject of surveys.

You are not legally bound to have a survey carried out, however, common sense would dictate that you need to ensure you know what it is you are actually buying. Please note that there are different types of surveys and they all cover slightly different things so make sure you understand what it is you are actually getting from your survey.

The three main types of report which home buyers tend to consider are:

1.  Mortgage Valuation – a mortgage valuation is not actually a survey and is simply a report carried out on behalf of a lending institution to ascertain the value of the property. The valuation may highlight areas of major work which might impact upon the value of the property although it is not in any way a building survey. Please note that the purpose of this report is to inform the lending institution how much the property is worth so that they know how much they can lend against it.

2.  Homebuyer’s Survey – a home buyer’s survey usually includes a valuation report as well as conducting a survey of the property. This survey is typically suited to any type of property although it does not go into as much details as a Full Structural survey.

3.  Full Structural Survey – a full survey tends to suit older properties, those you may want to alter, those that you suspect have defects or quite unusual homes. It is worth noting though that most Full Surveys don’t include a valuation report whereas a Homebuyer survey does.

As the buyer you are ultimately responsible for making sure you are purchasing what you think you are getting. You therefore need to satisfy yourself in relation to any potential future actions and liabilities. In saying this, your solicitor will make the necessary enquiries to the seller’s solicitor to ensure you have covered the main points in relation to buying your dream home.

As you can see, never mind the stress of it all, there are quite a few complex issues at stake when you are buying your new home.  Your solicitor is there to help you get things across the line and the best advice we give our clients is that as soon as you put your existing house on the market, get in touch with your solicitor to make sure you have all you paperwork in place before you find your dream home. This means that once you agree on a new property you can move as quickly as possible by getting your details though to the seller’s solicitor. Do this and you will be hitting the ground running the time you agree your home. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, if the other side haven’t provided the necessary documentation, your own solicitor will be unable to progress things. They may be the one to tell you that thing have been delayed, again – although this is invariably due to a delay on the other side.

If you have any questions about a future home purchase feel free to get in touch and we can meet up to review the steps you need to take to make it run as smoothly as possible. At Hunt Solicitors we offer a free, no obligation consultation to help you understand any issues you may have so that you can then make an informed decision regarding your own next steps.

This article was written by Darren Rainey

Darren Rainey is a senior Parter with Hunt Solicitors, specialising in property law advising clients in Residential & Commercial Conveyancing