Do I need a solicitor to buy a house?

Do I need a solicitor to buy a house?

Sometimes I’m asked, ‘do I really need a solicitor to buy a house?’.

The idea of buying or selling a house can seem like an endless merry-go-round between banks, solicitors and opposing parties. These types of transactions are often the largest a person undertakes during their lifetime, particularly where it is a family home. When it is done properly, it can bring financial security to that person and their family.

However, the potential problems that can arise from incorrect legal processes can be devastating, and it is vital to ensure that a purchaser or seller receives proper legal advice throughout the conveyancing process.

But does it really need to be as complicated as it seems? What does a solicitor do during the purchase of a property?

  1. Explain terminology: The process of purchasing a property can be daunting, and your solicitor should help you to understand the process and explain the terminology that is used at every stage.
  2. Carry out searches: When buying a property, it is essential to establish that the property is free of problems, such as compulsory purchase orders or environmental concerns. It is also important to find out if building work is planned in the area, and if the property is at risk of flooding. Our experience allows us to handle this aspect of your purchase, so you know that your property is safe and secure.
  3. Raise queries: There are many queries that can arise during the process of purchasing a property, from concerns about the utilities (that serve the property) to ensuring that there are no ongoing problems with neighbours. Your solicitor will ensure that the seller answers all relevant queries, so that your rights are protected, and will feed responses back to you for your consideration.
  4. Draw up contracts: Exchanging contracts establishes your right to purchase the property for an agreed price, and your solicitor will be responsible for drafting contracts that protect your rights. You will be required to sign these contracts prior to exchange, and the solicitor will usually hold them until all parties are ready to exchange. Your contracts will also specify when your purchase will be completed.
  5. Complete your purchase: Completion takes place when funds are transferred to the seller of your new property, and you receive the keys. Your solicitor will handle the payment of Stamp Duty, and ensure that your purchase is correctly recorded with the Land Registry.

If you are buying a house you should always make sure that your solicitor has conveyance expertise. I think it is always best to go by a referral. If someone has recommended a solicitor to you – go with them rather than looking for the cheapest alternative.

Stephen Walsh’s tips on dealing with the conveyance process:

  • It probably isn’t a good idea to try and go it alone with conveyance.
  • Cash buys remove the need to deal with the banks.
  • Make sure not to go outside of the time limit for drawing down a loan from the bank – otherwise, you might have to go through the process again.
  • Conveyance generally costs somewhere between €1,200 and €2,000 plus VAT and other outlay.
  • Go by recommendations when looking for a solicitor.

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