Tuesday, 27 July 2010
Buying a Home: How to Handle the Legal Documents
by Clare Stevens
Shopping for a home can be a little more complicated than finding the property and the money to pay for it. Between you and the night you sip champagne on the porch of your newly acquired house lie mounds of paperwork, with very small print, and jargon that you probably have neither the time nor inclination to wade through.
Why you need a conveyancer
That’s what conveyancers are for. As solicitors who specialise in real estate properties, they can handle all the documents and make sure that you are fully protected by the law.
For example, if you’re selling your home, your conveyancer will prepare the contracts and the property deeds. If you’re buying one, he will coordinate with your mortgage lender and handle all the necessary searches to make sure that you’re not being swindled out of your well-earned pounds. These include a local authority search (to check if your property is sitting on what will later be converted into a highway), a drainage search, a land registry search (so you know you’re talking to the real owner of the property), and a land charges search (to assure the mortgage lender that you can afford the payments).
Some counties have an even longer list of required searches, making a conveyancer even more important. For example, Cheshire county residents need a brine search, to detect if the levels of minerals present in the ground can affect your house or your health. Most conveyancers will also evaluate your property for any damages or hazards that may need repair or correction, which he will then use to negotiate for a better sale price.
Your conveyancer will also be the one to deal with the solicitor of your house’s seller (or buyer, whatever the case may be). He will prepare your offer sheet, schedule the necessary meetings and negotiations, and then prepare the final contracts. Once the sale has actually been made, your conveyancer will also take care of the deeds and make sure that the necessary documents are given to your mortgage lender.
Choosing a conveyancer
With the large amount of money involved in purchasing or selling a home, and the paperwork required by the institutions that will lend that money to you, the fees of a conveyancer are well worth the investment.
Some conveyancers charge a fixed rate, others set the amount according to a value of the property. However, fees should not be the sole determining factor behind your decision to hire someone as your legal representative. Choose someone that you’re comfortable with, who offers excellent customer service, and will update you between the long stretches when documents are being processed. As a rule, legal firms that specialise in conveyancing are more likely to provide this kind of dedicated service. You are guaranteed that you are talking someone who knows the ins and outs of real estate, and will not have to worry that the person assigned to you isn’t too busy in the courts to work on your documents.
It’s also important to ask what is included in the fees, to uncover any hidden charges or at the very least clarify who will shoulder small costs of processing paperwork, such as documentary stamps.