As first-time buyers, we need to know how to choose a conveyancer or solicitor. They’re essential throughout the purchase process, from having our offer accepted to completion.
Making the biggest financial decision of our lives can be stressful by itself. We want a conveyancer who will alleviate this rather than leave us in the dark, or complicate things further.
I didn’t know anything about mortgages, the homebuying process, or solicitors when I first started browsing houses online and following price movements. One of the benefits of taking several years to save my deposit was that I was able to do a lot of research and feel confident in my decisions when it was time to buy. I’ve compiled everything I learned below to share some of the pitfalls to avoid, and I hope it provides a shortcut for you.
I’m NOT legally qualified in any way, and I’m not a financial advisor. Please use this as only a launchpad to research the firm that’s right for you. I hope until then that my experience gives an idea of what to expect, but your needs might be quite different.
Here’s what I’ve covered below:
- What Do Conveyancing Solicitors Do?
- Why Would I Hate Them?
- When To Research vs When to Hire
- What’s A Memo Of Sale Anyway?
- What You Need To Know About In-house Services
- How To Research Conveyancing Solicitor’s Fees And Compare Quotes
- Why Quotes Vary So Much
- Solicitors Without A Package Service
- Other Questions To Manage Your Service Expectations
- The Steps To Working With A Conveyancer
- How Do I Pay?
I’ll be damned if you still feel uninformed at the end! Whether you need a solicitor now, or several years from now after you’ve stacked some more cash, I hope this post is a resource you can return to during your research to keep you permanently unstuck. The less stuck you feel saving your deposit and navigating the homebuying process, the less likely you are to get stuck renting until the end of days.
What Do Conveyancing Solicitors Do?
Understanding the distinction between different types of lawyers is the first step in how to choose a property solicitor. A conveyancer is still a type of solicitor/lawyer, so I will use the terms interchangeably below. A conveyance lawyer only specialises in property. Other solicitors might be trained in lots of different areas. This might mean they actually charge more than a specialist conveyance lawyer to account for all their other qualifications.
Unless you’re paying them to handle your divorce at the same time(!), there’s no need to pay a premium for a lawyer with broader qualifications. In fact, you may find you get less attention for your money as they may be spread across different cases outside of the realm of property.
“Conveyancing” means legally transferring ownership of a property for sale. Apart from this clue, the reason you need a conveyancer each step of the way is because there are various activities only they can perform on your behalf that need to happen before transferring ownership. (Most first-time buyers don’t need to research remortgage conveyancing, or extending leases before buying their first home, but conveyancers can organise these too).
What do conveyancing solicitors do day-to-day?
They will perform the local searches for you and vet the contracts. They advise you on any problems with either of these and transfer the money owed for the purchase. Finally they get the title of the land transferred to you at the Land Registry when the property becomes yours.
If they’re truly working for you (more on that below), then they should also make sure you don’t run afoul of any red flags in the contracts. A good solicitor will want to know about all the communication you have with the estate agent (and the seller in the rare event that you speak directly), so that they can advise appropriately.
For instance, if the seller agrees to leave behind certain furniture for an extra payment, the solicitor will likely want this built into the contract and overall purchase price, and this shields you therefore.
Otherwise when you collect the keys, you could find an unfurnished house and that separate money lost. Pay the seller directly and if they run off with that cash, then there might not be anything legally binding to show that they verbally agreed to sell you the house furnished.
Can I do the legal work myself?
Although you want to check the conveyancer’s credentials when you hire (more on that below), there is such a thing as doing the conveyancing yourself. However, it’s not often that your mortgage provider will allow this. There’s also just too much risk that you might miss something to your detriment in the paperwork, or screw up the ownership transfer. This could have additional consequences if you end up getting sued!
Why Would I Hate Them?!
Have you never heard a lawyer joke?
Hate is a strong word. (Treat people with kindness, and all that jazz). However, buying houses is passionate business for the buyers and sellers. Just because you’re paying someone doesn’t mean that they will care about your destiny as strongly as you.
Anyhoo, there’s a number of reasons you might not be the happiest bunny if you hire the first solicitor you meet:
- Property is not their specialty
- If you run into extra costs because they’re not approved by your mortgage lender
- They’re in-house and share all your information with the estate agent to benefit the seller
- If the fees make you feel like you’re buying two houses instead of one
- If their service is slow, silent, and requires a lot of chasing from you
Notice that nearly all of these hinge on some due diligence from you. It’s not really their fault if we hire a solicitor that isn’t suitable, except on the last point.
When To Research Versus When To Hire
Research solicitors as soon as you plan any viewings. I had been looking at properties for so long online and tracking prices that I unexpectedly made an offer the first day I went to any viewings because I knew I was onto something good.
Ideally the seller accepts an offer within a few days. Perhaps you know which solicitor you think you want to go with, but haven’t hired them officially yet. You don’t want a last minute scramble to confirm costs.
When you contact your mortgage broker after acceptance, the broker needs to name the solicitor on the mortgage application. The estate agent will also want to urgently put together the memo of sale and can’t do this without your solicitor’s details.
It’s up to you whether you hire a solicitor before or after making an offer. This might hinge on when the solicitor starts the clock running on your bill. You also don’t want to hold any step of the process up by making an offer without having a clue who to choose as the solicitor though.
If you want the broker to get the application rolling and you’re not 100% there with your choice, they might offer to put an in-house firm on the application. It’s in their interests to do this in case you go with the in-house firm anyway. It should be possible to change it within the coming days if you go with a solicitor that’s offering better value. Don’t sign anything the in-house firm sends you if you’re uncertain about hiring them though.
Speak to the broker before hiring
They will check that the conveyancer is on the mortgage lender’s panel. This is the mortgage provider’s list of solicitors they will deal with and they will very likely charge you for the privilege of using a solicitor not on the list.
A decision in principle via a broker references the amounts you can theoretically borrow, but it doesn’t reference who’s offering those mortgages. You find out the lenders and interest rates when you return to the broker after an offer has been accepted. If you’re concerned that you have no idea who your mortgage will be with, you can work in reverse and ask solicitors which panels they are on.
What’s A Memo Of Sale Anyway?
The memorandum of sale is mega important. This is the estate agent’s written confirmation that you and the seller have agreed to the price you offered. Your mortgage broker will usually want to see this before submitting a mortgage application. Your solicitor will also want a copy, and the bank may ask for it via the broker also.
The memo of sale will usually have the following information:
- Yours and the seller’s contact details
- Contact details for both solicitors
- Contact details for your broker
- Details of whether the purchase is cash or mortgaged
- The status of the “lower chain” – that’s you (FTB for first-time buyer)
- The status of the upper chain e.g. there might not be one if the property has tenants instead
- Target exchange and completion dates
- Any other conditions
My EA didn’t have any in-house solicitors, so there was no pressure to use their services. Plus I’d already told them when I made the offer that I knew who I wanted to use. The EA should be quite eager to produce a memo of sale. You shouldn’t feel like they are holding the memo hostage in exchange for you using an in-house solicitor just so that they can get a kickback for referring you. Choose the conveyancer that’s right for you.
You can still back out after the memo of sale because they are “Subject to Contract”. Therefore nothing is legally binding until exchange (with exchange literally meaning an exchange of contracts).
You can’t exchange without a memo of sale in place first. The memo of sale is more reassurance that an offer has been accepted and proof to everyone involved of what’s been agreed verbally so far.
What You Need To Know About In-House Services
When I say in-house, I mean a solicitor under the umbrella of the estate agent, developer, or broker. Or they might be independent brands working in partnership. Keep in mind that when the EA, builder, or broker recommend you their preferred solicitors, they get paid commission.
If it was me in their shoes, I would only refer buyers to the best customer service regardless of commission. Someone’s trust in the long term is worth more than a kickback.
However, we’re not in the habit of buying houses on a regular basis. All these stakeholders might only have one opportunity to earn commission from you. Therefore the common wisdom is that they send buyers to whoever pays them the most, not whoever has the best service. There’s no way of knowing for sure.
Potential drawbacks of in-house solicitors
The broker may suggest that they can escalate things for you with the solicitors they use as a referral partner. Ideally you shouldn’t need a middleman to get the service you’re paying for, and you don’t want to pay a premium for this reason.
In fact, the solicitor might even charge you more to cover the commission they will then pay to the EA/broker! If they try to entice you with the advertisement of a discount, shop around and get a full list of fees. (These are detailed in the next section). It’s important to understand whether this is actually a deal or not.
The other potential pitfall of these arrangements is that your estate agent will likely know every single detail you share with your solicitor. This puts you on the back foot.
You generally don’t want to keep any conversations with the agent secret from your solicitor so that your solicitor can ensure everything is in your favour. The same is not true in reverse. You don’t have much power to negotiate anything with the seller up until exchange if the estate agent knows all your dirty laundry because the solicitor’s loyalty is to them and vice versa.
Are there perks to going in-house?
If a perk looks like a double-edged sword, then yes.
Do NOT feel pressured to use an in-house lawyer in exchange for getting an offer accepted, access to viewings, or any other preferential treatment. You’re serious about buying. Your money is worth a lot to you. Collaborate with someone who agrees rather than anyone who offers queue jumping for a price.
The estate agent gets paid when you complete. You shouldn’t be paying them indirectly before that otherwise you may as well hire a buyer’s agent. Buying property is expensive enough without turning it into a fricking conga line of people rooting around in your pockets. Sheesh.
Various early Help to Buy participants found themselves buying new build houses that were leasehold instead of freehold. They will have had conveyancers advising them. So how did they end up in a bind? Were these solicitors recommended via the developer or estate agent? Were they in cahoots with whoever gave the referral, not the buyer? Makes you wonder, doesn’t it?
I’m not saying never use an in-house solicitor. Base your decision though on reviews, personal recommendations, and whether they’re offering the level of service you need within your budget.
How to Research Conveyancing Solicitor’s Fees and Compare Quotes
First, no matter how you found out about the conveyancer, check they are a member of the Law Society of England and Wales, or Scotland, and a member of the the official Conveyancing Quality Scheme. (Housebuying generally works a bit differently in Scotland. I’m based in the Southeast, so not everything in my posts will be relevant outside England. The information here should still give you a foundation though).
They should also be a member of the Council for Licensed Conveyancers. If these credentials are all hunky dory, then we can get into the nitty gritty of who will provide the best value.
Get really clear on costs. Does the quote include:
- An initial consultation or is this free
- A package of services, or do they charge per hour/per letter/per phone call, or a percentage of the sale
- Local authority searches and stamp duty if applicable
- Land Registry fees
- Bank transfer fees
- Bankruptcy search
- Exclusions if they charge a flat fee e.g. postage
- Leasehold/Help to Buy/LISA fees
- Penalties for late payment
Get out clauses
This might be in the client care letter you receive when you hire your solicitor and should mean you have to approve anything not included in the package before it gets added to your bill.
Get an estimate or fixed price for any services that aren’t included. Many solicitors have a “no completion, no fee” guarantee that if you don’t complete first time around, you won’t pay full fees.
No completion, no fee
A sale might fall through for a few reasons. It’s poor form, but after having an offer accepted, the seller can still technically accept a higher offer from someone else (known as gazumping).
If you can’t afford a bidding war unless you had an offer accepted well below budget anyway, then you are likely to walk away. In a chain there are times when the seller unexpectedly needs more funds for their next purchase (perhaps because they’re being gazumped themselves!) Then they might return, asking you to increase your offer.
Or you might change your mind after a survey, or if you don’t quite get the mortgage offer you were expecting based on the decision in principle. No completion no fee means you don’t end up paying the full solicitor’s bill if the sale collapses. Clarify with them what they really mean by this as there may still be a charge for some of the early work completed.
Let’s say you are trying to choose between a cheaper solicitor without a “no completion, no fee” guarantee and a more expensive solicitor with a guarantee. There might be other ways to recoup some costs if things go wrong.
You can challenge the seller to contribute towards your conveyancing solicitor’s fees if they’re the reason the sale falls through. They don’t have to pay you anything though.
Or if you plan to stick with the solicitor for attempt #2, ask if they’ll perform the next round of searches free. While a solicitor might bill for some of their work after the fact, searches are the part of the process that is usually paid upfront. (More on this below). This is why you are most likely to lose money to some of the disbursements if the sale falls apart. These will have been paid for first and are invariably non-refundable.
Why Quotes Vary So Much
You could end up with quotes ranging from £100 to £1400 or more, and obviously that kind of variation is pause for thought. (£100 also looks suspiciously low). Lots of things can affect a quote though, and it’s down to you to explicitly ask for a price on individual items.
Have an eagle eye for the price of the following:
- The searches
- Leasehold fees
- Help to Buy fees
If you’re wondering why things like stamp duty should be on your lawyer’s bill, it’s because they handle all of the finances involved in the process, regardless of whether this money is going to the seller, the government, the council etc. (When I bought in 2018 first-time buyers didn’t owe stamp duty on the first £300k of a sale. From 1st July – 30 September 2021 there is no stamp duty on the first £250k of a purchase price. From 1 October 2021, this drops to £125k and then you pay a percentage tax in stages on the rest of the property’s value above £125k. Always check the government website for the latest tax bands as they could change again).
If it seems like stamp duty, searches, and land registry fees have been missed off the quote, this might be because they are listed as “disbursements” instead.
The searches you need depend on the property and these are never optional with a mortgage (cash buyers can give them a miss, but it’s risky).
Generally you’d expect:
- A local authority search (which tells you about things like development plans that might affect your decision)
- Land Registry search (to check the seller is the current legal owner)
- Drainage search (to show whether there is a mains drainage connection and water supply
- Environmental search (covers flood risks, landfills etc.)
Unusual searches would be things like chancel repair liabilities (an obligation to pay towards church repairs nearby). Or something very specific to the local geography like a mining search.
Expect to pay around £250-450 for searches. (Now you see why an advertised £100 quote is obviously missing something out).
Tip! The Land Registry charge different amounts depending on the home’s value, so you would expect this fee to be more consistent from one solicitor quote to the next for the same property.
Meanwhile there might be very different fees between three and four figures to deal with leases. This is partly down to the solicitor’s freedom to charge what the like for they extra work involved, and partly down to any particular problems with that lease.
Besides reviewing the lease and its length, they might have to serve notice on the landlord or management company. Or you might need a Deed of Covenant to set out yours and the landlord/managers’ legal responsibilities regards things like repairs.
Help to Buy
If you want to use a bonus from a Help to Buy or Lifetime ISA, the solicitor claims this on your behalf to ensure it goes towards a property purchase. The government capped these charges at £60 though.
Otherwise reviewing the paperwork from an equity loan will take more of their time than a buyer not using Help to Buy. They also have to file an extra “charge” on the title since the government own a share of your home. All of this can add up and supplements of £200-300 are not uncommon.
What about online conveyancing solicitors?
Remote solicitors are becoming more common. These are online-only services, but they are not necessarily cheaper depending on what’s available to you locally.
I only looked at one local solicitors for buying a house near me, and all my other quotes came from remote services. There’s no magic rule for how many quotes you should compare though, or whether the majority of these will come from online. More on this below.
Line up wildly different quotes side by side to see if there are any items missing. If not, ask why they think they’re so competitive. (If it was any other provider, and I fancied the service of the more expensive brand, I would also ask if they were able to lower their quote. I don’t know anyone who has been successful with this with solicitors! Leave a comment if you’ve haggled before).
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Solicitors Without A Package Service
If a solicitor doesn’t charge a flat fee then ask the following:
Do you need a (free) initial consultation?
Do they expect a deposit, or any other advance payments?
The hourly rate
A list of exceptions not covered by the hourly rate e.g. disbursements
Stamp duty if applicable
An estimate of the total hours
An estimate of the overall cost including exceptions
How likely it is the estimate will vary from the final cost
What events might spike the bill and their likelihood
Whether they round up minutes and by how much
When do you incur the first charge
A VAT estimate
Any penalty charges for late payment
Whether they offer payment plans
Whether they charge to handle complaints (run if the answer is yes)
What’s payable if you don’t complete
An agreed spending limit
It’s a long list, but getting into this level of detail before hiring will save you any upsets when the train has left the station. Given such a long list, most first-time buyers will likely find flat fees simpler, providing you’ve queried any hidden costs.
How to control costs without a flat fee
A solicitor that provides an estimated range might be preferable to a rounded single figure estimate that doesn’t give an indication of whether this might end up off the mark by hundreds of pounds or more.
Agree an upfront spending limit. This doesn’t mean that they’ll do everything for that budget. However, if you’re approaching the maximum you want to spend you should discuss the most economical way to proceed. When the maximum is reached in this scenario, they won’t be able to do any more work without agreeing with you first that you’re “happy” to go overbudget.
Questions to ask an hourly solicitor
Will they charge you every time they respond to contact?
Does one contact method cost more than another?
When’s the best time to contact them, so that you’re not paying to be told nothing’s happening?
You might want to save up any questions and try to get everything answered in one point of contact when you do communicate.
Do they round up time spent talking to you? If so, by how much? Otherwise a few minutes here and there might give you a shock when it’s all rounded up.
Conversely, you might also end up paying less than expected if everything goes very smoothly.
Remember a leasehold property takes more of the solicitor’s time and so usually carries an extra fee. This is because they review the lease for you, but they should also explain it to you so that you are aware of ground rent and service charges.
Reading this will clock up some potentially expensive minutes, especially if anything in the terms needs querying. Research leases beforehand so that you don’t need to ask questions you could get the answer to for free.
Other things that can complicate a sale include:
- If the property is unregistered for some reason
- Sales as part of a divorce
- Adding someone extra to the mortgage before exchange
Other Questions To Manage Your Service Expectations
Can someone else cover your case if your designated solicitor goes on leave for any reason?
Also let them know if you’re going on holiday.
Will they be available on the exchange and completion dates?
This relates to the above question. No solicitor available, no exchange…
I didn’t know these in advance because my house was tenanted and I knew the tenant had several months left before the landlord could served them notice. I obviously didn’t expect the quickest of service therefore because the solicitor knew that at the very least I wasn’t going to exchange within the usual estimated 8-10 weeks. Don’t spring deadlines on your solicitor after hiring otherwise though.
If an in-house service is genuinely competitive, will they expect you to waive your right to privacy?
This means they can share any details with the estate agent even if it negatively impacts you and the sale.
Do they have an online tracking system, or how will they keep you updated of proceedings otherwise?
An online conveyancing solicitor is more likely to have online tracking. It’s not necessarily a negative if a local solicitor doesn’t, providing they don’t behave like they are located in Timbuktu.
What are their common timescales for handling different stages of the process?
This way you’ll know when to sit back and when to chase (especially if pursuing an update might cost you). Sometimes it might be obvious to the solicitor that there is nothing to update you. They won’t consider it remiss if you haven’t heard anything for weeks therefore. Let them know what level of communication you expect and when they shouldn’t contact you.
Can you have direct contact details for the conveyancer supervising your case?
Generally queries are handled by an admin team of paralegals and trainees, with the qualified conveyancer overseeing their work. Don’t worry too much if you find yourself communicating with someone lower down regularly.
The personal touch
In fact, in a small business, talking to the admins might make you feel like you’re getting the attention you deserve. In large online conveyancing businesses, the same system feels far more impersonal as you will likely speak to someone different every time.
Remember when I said you have to explicitly ask what the fees are for every aspect of your purchase? The employee that supplies you with the initial quote isn’t psychic. They have no real incentive to ask you upfront if you’ve got a Help to Buy ISA you want to put towards the purchase, for example. They’re just trying to reply on the conveyancer’s behalf. Help them and yourself out by including any details that might affect the information you receive.
If you hire an online conveyancing solicitor, will all their services be handled by email and post? Or will you be able to talk to someone on the phone?
You might feel reassured to know you can visit an office in person easily if there are holdups (unless that costs extra…) Postage to a remote service can add up, especially if you are getting documents verified, or sending sensitive documents by secure courier.
When a local solicitor isn’t an advantage
I know someone who had a solicitor who would only communicate by letter despite being local. This meant every single enquiry made on either side of the purchase was followed by several days of silence while everyone involved waited for them to forward what had been asked by snail mail…Then every single response was typed and posted…
They also had no holiday cover, so no one was able to exchange on the planned date because the solicitor went away!
I only needed to deal with my solicitors once in person (but it wouldn’t have cost extra to drop in). Some solicitors will not enter into a contract with you unless you provide ID in person.
Whether it costs to see the solicitor in person or not, take advantage of any face time. Ask as much as possible, and make a note of the answers. This is the best opportunity to get anything explained in detail versus back and forth clarifying a throwaway sentence in an email or letter, or trying to remember what’s been said on the phone.
There are exceptional circumstances where a solicitor might want to visit a property e.g. because the boundary will be changed as part of the sale. This would be highly unusual for a first-time buyer to be involved in though.
Otherwise living near the solicitor is only quicker and more convenient than posting vital documents if their opening hours line up with when you’re free, or they’re available at short notice.
The Steps To Working With A Conveyancer
Step 1: Get the quotes
Compare quotes from a few different solicitors and balance these quotes with reviews. Make a note also of who is quickest to respond and the quality of their responses.
It’s true in life that some companies are very quick to respond to sales queries and not much else. But if they’re slow to answer any initial enquiries or reluctant to explain their service to a prospect, then things probably won’t get better after that!
Don’t go with anyone who promises to get you to completion by a magic date. No one knows what will happen, and the conveyancer can only control so much anyway. You’ll likely only end up disappointed when it takes longer. (Expect everything to take longer. You’ll be doubly happy if it goes quicker instead).
Don’t ignore in-house solicitors. Use their quotes as a baseline and check your right to privacy.
I used Reallymoving.com to get three or four quotes for online conveyancing services. (They’re a comparison site for other related services like removals too).
Then check any recommendations from friends and family. If you’re still not happy, use the Law Society’s Find a Solicitor tool for more suggestions.
I ended up with the firm recommended by a relative. Their quote came in very close with another. I preferred their response times, location, and the recommendation came from someone who had used them more than once.
Step 2: Hiring
Instruct your chosen solicitor to begin handling the sale for you.
They will send you a “letter of engagement”, or client care letter i.e. you have engaged the solicitor to act on your behalf. Check over the cost breakdown, what’s promised, and the terms and conditions. If you’re unsure about using the solicitor, don’t sign as you won’t be able to change your mind.
Let the estate agent and broker know your choice so you can proceed with the mortgage application and receive a memo of sale.
Step 3: Check what you are buying
The solicitor will check the property information form, the lease if applicable, the energy performance certificate, and the fixtures and fittings form for any irregularities.
Let them know if you think anything is incorrect and don’t rely solely on the solicitor. They haven’t been to the house after all. They won’t find it odd that a carpeted home is being sold with no carpets ticked on the fixtures and fittings form. (This could be an accident, or it might be because the seller plans to rip out all the carpet and take it with them!)
Step 4: Searches and terms of sale
The solicitor will send you the results of local searches i.e. is the home a listed property.
The lender also forwards your mortgage offer and deposit information to the solicitor. (Remember your solicitor is named on the mortgage application).
If there are no surprises from both of the above, there might be no other queries over the terms of the sale. When you are happy with everything the seller must do before you will agree to exchange, then everyone involved can agree an exchange date.
Step 5: Prepare for exchange
Sign the contracts for the solicitor and transfer your deposit to them when they tell you. This will be so many days before exchange to make sure the funds have cleared in time.
Double check bank account details for the solicitor by more than one method for security E.g. if you receive an email saying their bank account has changed, treat this with suspicion and speak to the solicitor offline to verify this.
Top tip! You should also have home insurance in place on exchange day as you become legally responsible for the property after exchange. It’s not really anyone’s job to remind you of this. It will be a mortgage condition though, so protect yourself.
Step 6: Prepare for completion
Agree to a completion date via the solicitor. This will have been discussed beforehand, but it’s impossible to confirm 100% until exchange is done. They will likely send you a bill around now. That doesn’t always mean you have to pay there and then. You will have discussed that before engaging them if you’ve asked the questions higher up in this blog post.
Sign the transfer deed via the solicitor. They’ll pay the seller for you on completion day so that you can collect the keys!
Step 7: After completion
The conveyancer registers the property to you at the Land Registry.
If there’s any stamp duty, this would need paying within 30 days, so the solicitor will forward what you owe.
Final Tip! Ask if they’ll chuck in a will for free. This isn’t uncommon. It’s also a supreme idea now that you are buying a major asset (especially if you already have dependents).
Complain to your solicitor if you are unhappy with their service at any point. Go to the Legal Ombudsman, the relevant Law Society for your country, and the Council for Licensed Conveyancers if you’re unhappy with the resolution, or think you were overcharged.
How Do I Pay?
It’s not ideal to pay the solicitor by credit card. Paying off a credit card in full every month is a great way to build a credit score and might even earn you cashback. You want to keep all your expenses leading up to getting the mortgage as low as possible to show the lender you’re careful though.
The lender can check your credit history after you’ve already got your formal offer. If you have fees to pay as you go along and are relying on credit, they might be put off by a large amount of borrowing on your card. Especially if the amounts are uncharacteristic, or you’ve resorted to plastic because of other sudden bouts of spending. (Large furniture purchases might want to wait until after completion).
It implies to them that you needed to borrow from your credit card provider because you don’t have any spending buffers. The bank really only care about getting paid first before any other debts.
Want help with saving beforehand so that you can pay the solicitor outright? Read How I Saved Half My Wages For A Deposit While Renting In London.
Also try Epic Ways To Save For A House.
How To Choose A Conveyancer or Solicitor
Let’s wrap this up like me on a cold day.
There are some other details to the steps of buying a home, but I just wanted to focus here on how to choose a solicitor in the UK. I’m sure I will write about the other aspects at a later date.
Let me know in the comments what you’d like to know about housebuying steps, or any questions you have about this post. (Remember I’m not a lawyer myself, so I won’t be able to give specific legal advice). Also drop me a comment if you found any of this useful and why.
Here are the key things to remember:
- Hire a solicitor that specialises in residential property
- It’s never too early to research…
…but don’t sign on the dotted line before an offer’s accepted if it’s going to cost you more, or you’re uncertain about the solicitor
- Make sure you get a Memorandum of Sale once an offer’s been accepted
- Research in-house services closely
- Compare quotes and don’t assume there’s no fee if something’s not mentioned
- Expect to pay more in fees for leasehold and Help to Buy properties
- A flat fee (if you verify the cost of all the exclusions) might be cheaper and simpler than other fee structures
- Don’t be afraid to ask what to expect from their service
- Once you’ve hired a solicitor, make it a two-way street: doublecheck all the sale documents and highlight any concerns
- Keep money aside to pay without relying on credit card debt
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