While this may seem like a rather straightforward question, there are a multitude of different things that you need to consider. This is why we thought it would be useful to put together a thorough discussion on this subject. If this is something that you want to learn more about, read on as we discuss whether or not you need to hire a solicitor to buy a house.
The Difference Between Solicitors and Licensed Conveyancers
Both conveyancers and solicitors are fully licensed and regulated as professions. The Solicitors Regulatory Authority regulates solicitors. The Council for Licensed Conveyancers regulates licensed conveyancers. Both follow similar conveyancing practices and procedures.
Most property solicitors take on other types of cases, such as matrimonial or personal injury, in addition to conveyancing services, making it hard for clients to contact them when they need to. Attorneys who specialize in conveyancing provide similar services to licensed conveyancers.
Licensed Conveyancers specialize in property law. They deal mostly with residential property, but some deal with commercial property and estate law. All Licensed Conveyancers are office-based, so they are easy to contact at all times.
Now that you understand the difference between solicitors and licenced conveyancers, we can get into the different options that you have to choose from when buying a house. Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of ways to go about doing this. Here are the three ways you can approach buying a house:
Do Everything Yourself: While this is a valid option, it's not one that we recommend. Attempting to approach conveyancing with no prior experience and expertise will hurt you in the long run. While it may seem tempting due to the amount of money that you'll end up saving, it's ultimately not worth it as your inexperience and lack of knowledge will bog down the entire process. The money you save won't be worth it, so it's best to just work with a conveyancer or solicitor when purchasing a house.
Work With a Solicitor: When you purchase commercial property, agricultural land, or any other type of property that’s not a standard residential freehold or leasehold, use a lawyer. Licensed Conveyancers, that is licensed to transfer property ownership, deal with these situations only occasionally. Buying a house does not have to be a complicated process but it can turn into a legal nightmare if you don’t understand the legal process. Valuable property, in particular, will require more legal work and will therefore require a more comprehensive contract of sale.
This is why we recommend that you use a solicitor if you are purchasing a property worth over £2 million. Most conveyancers only handle sales that top out at £2 million (they have insurance limits). So, in conclusion, you do not need to use a solicitor to buy a house, but the house purchase will be more complicated than a small purchase, and it does require some legal work. I recommend using an online conveyancer if you don't have the option of trying to get an in-person solicitor. Remember, do not try to do the legal work yourself as it’s beyond your area of expertise.
Work With a Conveyancer: A licensed conveyancer is in charge of examining every document, every contract, and every land or property transaction to ensure that everything is in order. They can do everything that a solicitor could do in a conveyancing transaction — they have all the same legal authority.
A licensed conveyancer is an expert who has passed a strict qualification process, and who specializes in the legal transactions of buying and selling property in England and Wales. Licensed Conveyancers have the authority to witness affidavits, which means they can legally take statements saying that a particular fact is true.
How to Choose a Conveyancer or a Solicitor
Picking the right solicitor will help you purchase a house and will give you the best chance of success, saving time, money, and stress. To help you choose the right one, here are a couple of things that you'll want to keep in mind.
When you buy a home, your conveyancing solicitor will act as the middleman between you and the mortgage lender that you have chosen. This is often referred to as the ‘acting for the lender’ process and involves your solicitor carrying out due diligence on the property to make sure that, from a legal perspective, it is suitable for lending on. If you are buying a home with a mortgage, you must make sure that the solicitor that is working with you is a member of your lender’s approved solicitor panel.
The cost of working with a solicitor or a licensed conveyancer can vary considerably between firms. You should get a quote from a few companies to compare prices. Once you have a few estimates, you should check exactly what each firm includes in its prices. Make sure you pay attention to the fine print. Read over the contract carefully to ensure that you are not agreeing to anything you did not intend. If a price seems too good to be true, make sure that it's not a ploy to add on extra charges later.
You’ll also want to work with a solicitor or conveyancer that is proactive and responsive. How did the conveyancer or solicitor that you've chosen to work with respond to your quote request? Did they complete it quickly, or did you have to chase them for answers? If they took a long time to get back to you, or you had to chase them, they might not be the best option.
Aside from the things we’ve already mentioned, another great way to find a reliable solicitor or conveyancer is to ask for recommendations. We suggest asking your network for solicitors or conveyancers that they’ve worked with in the past. Doing this will make it less likely to work with a solicitor or conveyancer that won’t be as helpful as you’d like.
We hope this article proves to be useful when it comes to helping you make the most informed decision when purchasing a house. With this information, you’ll be able to properly gauge all your options. And while you may still face some difficulty even if you do work with a solicitor or a conveyancer, the entire experience should go infinitely more smoothly.
If you’re on the hunt for instant online conveyancing quotes in the UK to help with your journey, Conveyancing Calculator has got your back. Whether you’re purchasing a home, moving, or selling a property, we’ve got you covered. Visit our website and use our calculator today!