Appointing a solicitor

Once you have agreed on a sale or a purchase of a property, you will need to get a solicitor or conveyancer to handle the legal work to transfer ownership of the property to/from you.

If you have never used a solicitor before it might be a good idea to speak to family and friends and see if they can recommend a good local firm.

It is always a good idea to ring a few to get a feel for the different prices and be sure to ask for the total price (including searches and disbursements). Some solicitors will quote for their fees only and so you could find there’s an extra bill totalling many hundreds of pounds if you do not ask upfront. Also get them to email or post you a quote through so that you can compare quotes and so you have something to refer back to.

Don’t necessarily go with one suggested by the estate agent, in many cases these quotes will be higher to cover referral fees paid from the solicitor to the estate agent..

Don’t forget that you may also have to pay stamp duty. This will be in addition to the solicitors fees mentioned above so again, check to see if the solicitor has included or not included these costs within their quotes.

How applications are processed by solicitors (Purchase)

Once the solicitor is instructed they will;

  • Initial instruction pack will be sent to client for the client to confirm in writing that they wish for that firm to act and confirm they understand the process and fees associated.
  • Requested contract from other side (vendors) solicitor.
  • Once received contracts solicitor will apply for searches i.e. coal, water and local authority (most solicitors ask the clients to pay search fees up front and this is normally asked for in the initial pack).
  • Upon receiving contracts the solicitor will raise enquiries with the vendors solicitor
    The client may be asked to go into solicitors to go through paper work and sign the Mortgage Deeds and Contract or they will be posted to the client to be signed
  • On a purchase exchange will happen and then completion (moving date) will be set (sometimes exchange and completion happens on the same day)
  • Solicitor should check that relevant Buildings Insurance is in place before completion

How applications are processed by solicitors (Remortgage)

Once the solicitor receives their instruction, which on a remortgage usually comes from the mortgage lender (but sometimes clients do choose to use their own solicitor for a remortgage);

  • Questionnaire will be sent to client to be completed along with a Mortgage Deed (which is sent to land registry as written confirmation that the clients agree to the mortgage).  Some solicitor firms now have online portals where customers complete the questionnaires online, and can upload documents the solicitor may ask for such as a copy of the home insurance or a bank statement.  However, the mortgage deed will always need to be an original signed copy so they will ask client to print from the portal or will post to client.  If solicitors are using a portal system they will write to client with log in details.  They may also require a Occupiers consent form if there is anyone other than the applicant over 17 that will live in the property with the applicant
  • Once questionnaire is received back solicitor will do a title check to verify the current owner (i.e. to make sure the current owner is the same person applying for the mortgage and also check the current mortgage lender who has a charge on the property)
    Solicitors will then request a redemption statement (confirmation of current balance that will show the interest charged to a specific date).
  • The length of time the redemption statements are valid for varies from lender to lender, however usually when a statement is provided it will be for a specific date and there will be a note to say what the daily interest is after that date.  Example:  Redemption statement from your current lender for the 1st of the following month states £125,000.00 however daily interest is £14 per day, if the solicitors were to complete on the 3rd it would be £125,000.00 + £28 (£14 times 2 days) so total to repay would be £125,028.00).
  • Once the solicitors have all the information in, they will set a completion date and on this date will send over payment to the existing lender to pay off the existing mortgage account and if applicable send surplus to the client.
  • Once completed solicitors inform land registry of the change of mortgage lender so the charge at land registry can be updated.
  • If there is a transfer of equity involved (i.e. removing or adding a name to the property), there will be some transfer documentation that the solicitors will need to draw up and have all parties sign during this process too.