Buying a house in the UK: the importance of hiring a good lawyer

Buying a house in the UK

When buying a house in the UK, you may wonder if spending money on a lawyer is really a necessary step with all the other expenses you already have. Well there's a simple answer to that question: Yes it definitely is! Where most first-time buyers get caught out when deciding how to buy a property, is thinking that buying a house is as simple as when you rent a house properties. Save up a deposit, find a place they like, go to the bank, gain a mortgage and move into their new home. However, paperwork for a new home is an ordeal of exact terminology, reams of rules & laws and there are many, many pitfalls they need to watch out for!

How will a lawyer help me to buy a house?

Having a lawyer isn't just a step to take when things go wrong while purchasing a property for sale, they have a very important preventative role. Lawyers will know exactly what rules you need to follow, will take proper care to check a prospective new home's papers are in order & they will also make sure the home is safe by following due care and diligence to maintenance issues. If this is your first time buying a property, then you probably aren't aware of just how much needs to be done in exactly the right way and order when you want to buy an apartment property as opposed to when you want to rent an apartment. Hiring a lawyer will not only save you days of reading and checking things off exactly, but can also prevent your purchase from falling through by not following proper procedure, and at worst cost you thousands of pounds. On top of that, a good property lawyer will come armed with the knowledge of potential issues that could crop up in the future in your property and will safeguard against these with various contracts, checks & balances. Do you know the difference in legality between buying one apartment and multiple flats for sale?

How much will a good property lawyer cost?

Generally, a good property lawyer will cost in the range of £800 - £2500, however, this will of course depend on many different circumstances. It is also worth noting, this is not an area we would advise scrimping the pennies in! Having a good lawyer working with you will save you many headaches! Just a few examples of the variables in the cost of a lawyer are:

  • Size of the property
  • Complexity of the property's deed (is it a listed building? Does the council have specific rules for that building type? are you buying privately or commercially?)
  • Are you buying in cash or is there a mortgage involved?
  • Does the house for sale have an attached commercial venture I.E. a farm?
  • Do you want to turn a commercial property into residential or vice-versa?
  • How much stamp duty will you pay?

So while most reside within the range stated above, if your new purchase is particularly complex or expensive, the price of your lawyer will, of course, increase!

What exactly does a property lawyer do for me?

A property lawyer (technically called a Conveyancer) takes care of the legality and financing rules behind your purchase, therefore they will be ultimately responsible for making sure your purchase goes through - barring factors outside of their control! First, a conveyancer will receive your contract, information on the seller, information on you, finances & tax needs, any documents about the estate you're buying, including current building and environmental surveys and any other legal documentation about the purchase. Then, your conveyancer will read through all of this documentation to find out what appliances will need replacing as well what building works you might have to undergo before you buy, or are likely to be an issue in the future. At this point they will check to see if you require any special planning permissions for these, as well as any restrictions the building will be subject to from local authorities. They will also check through the local environment surveys to see if a factor outside your property could cause damage to it in the future, such as flood reports, any previous mining and that sort of thing. After this, they will inform you of anything they feel you should know about. Often, cheap houses for sale are cheap precisely because lots of building work needs to be done to them! The next step is your lawyer will receive the contracts from the sellers lawyer and they will examine this very carefully! This step is the most important as it is where the sale could fall through, or at worst you could get locked into a very bad situation! If it all looks good, they will then check through your mortgage offer to ensure it all makes sense and there are no hidden fees or faults. Finally, if everything is as it should be, they will send everything over to you to sign and check through if you would like. You'll then exchange contracts with the seller and can begin the process of handing over money, moving in etc.! If you have used a mortgage to buy the house, then your lawyer will help you send a copy of your title deeds to your lender, then your conveyancer will send you all of your legal documents a few weeks after the sale is completed. That's the importance of having a good lawyer to help you when you've found good houses to buy in the UK!

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