Picking the person who can head off any nasty surprises
NO matter how many times you have bought or sold a property, it is likely that each time new issues and concerns crop up that inevitably slow the process down. In the same way that we at Zoopla stress the importance in researching the local area, agents, properties, sold prices and market, so too is researching the solicitor or conveyancer who will handle the legal aspect of your property transaction.
For most first-time buyers without a shady past, buying a home will be the first time you engage the services of a lawyer. The role of the conveyancer is to check the seller has the right to sell, that the title to the property is sound, that all documents are sent and received and there are no nasty surprises. Here are ten golden rules when dealing with a property solicitor for the first time.
1. Choose a good lawyer. This is key. Scour the internet for someone who is well reviewed, ask friends and local agents for recommendations. What you're looking for is a lawyer who isn't too junior, too swamped by work and is going to return your phone calls.
2. While there is some benefit to a local lawyer, consider lawyers in a different geographic region too. There may be financial benefits to doing this, particularly if you live in London.
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3. Check your lawyer is regulated and there is a complaints procedure in place.
4. Check for hidden extras. Ask for a full fee breakdown before you engage. Make sure it includes charges for searches, bank money transfer fees and whether there is a charge if the sale falls through.
5. For the cheeky among us, well-known professional penny-pincher Martin Lewis, recommends asking your chosen lawyer to chuck in a will for free.
6. Make sure you understand what you're filling in and don't feel stupid asking a lawyer to explain, in non-legalese, what is happening.
7. Feel free to get on the phone and chase your lawyer if there is a delay – you should be touching base at least once a week, if not more frequently. This makes delays less likely, and the longer the buying and selling process takes, the more likely it is to fall through.
8. Let your lawyer know your moving deadlines.
9. Check your lawyer sends documents via e-mail. Incredible as it seems to the Facebook generation, some older solicitors still post all correspondence, which means the whole process moves with the speed of a snail on a tea break.
10. Check some of the important issues for yourself: the Government's Planning Portal will help you satisfy yourself that you are not going to wake up one morning and find your lovely view of woodpeckers and trees has been replaced by a concrete jungle.