Tackling the Legal Process of Buying a House

Once you have your heart set on a particular property, the legal process of purchasing a house begins. Making a formal offer initiates buying a home – based on the asking price and average house prices in the area. And once you have had an offer accepted, you will probably want to appoint a solicitor or a conveyancer to ensure a smooth and timely transaction (although it is possible to do your conveyancing). With a bit of planning, research and guidance from estate agents and property experts, you can give yourself the best chance possible of buying a house hassle-free and at the right price.

Put Yourself in a Strong Negotiating Position

People with houses for sale in your chosen area will most likely want the best price possible for their property. However, if you can guarantee that buying a home will be a smooth and quick process, you could negotiate a significant discount on the asking price.

Before you find a house for sale, you should have your mortgage offer or funds in place. Sellers wanting a quick sale might be prepared to drop their price a little as a reward. Ensure that both the vendor and the estate agent know that you are in a position to proceed immediately.

If you are lucky enough to have no property chain to contend with, this could also strengthen your negotiating position. Of course, you could be a first-time buyer, so your purchase won’t rely on selling a house first. Or, if you are prepared to find a property to rent for a few weeks, you could sell your home first. That would give you the funds you need and the ability to proceed immediately – a situation that should present an opportunity to drive a hard bargain.

The negotiation stage is a time when the assistance of an experienced and talented agent is precious. Not only will agents guide you on equal property values in the area, but they will also assess the vendor’s situation, which could give you an advantage during price negotiation.

Appointing a Solicitor or Conveyancer

A conveyancer is someone who will process the legal documentation, searches, and exchanges involved in a property purchase. They are sometimes qualified lawyers, but not always. Whether you hire a trusted solicitor or a professional conveyancer, you should expect them to complete the following tasks on your behalf:

  • Compile relevant information surrounding the property, including boundary ownership, local disputes and a complete inventory of fixtures and fittings

  • Compile and check certificates of permission and guarantees, including planning permission and energy certificates

  • Assess the legitimacy of the vendor’s ownership

  • Research local searches in the areas

  • Organise the payment of stamp duty

  • Process the exchange documentation and the registration of the title

According to a recent article on the Guardian website, you should appoint a conveyancer at the same time as you choose a mortgage lender. You could save money this way, as some banks want only to work with a panel of trusted conveyancers. You are given a list of approved conveyancers after receiving your mortgage promise, from which you can choose the most suitable based on the following criteria:

  • What they charge, and whether they offer a no sale, no fee payment structure

  • Hidden fees for extra services such as environmental searches

  • How receptive they are to your questions

  • Can they meet your deadlines? And are they willing to update you on the progress of the sale at regular intervals?

Once your offer is accepted, and you’ve appointed a conveyancer, most of the remaining work is done behind closed doors. You will need to provide details of your mortgage, ID and quickly complete the legal paperwork. However, with a good conveyancer on the case, you should be able to look forward to taking possession of your new home tentatively.

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