Published 12 Mar 2020
A Buyer's Guide To Choosing A Good Solicitor
If you decide to purchase a home through Shared Ownership, you will need to appoint a solicitor to handle the legal aspect of the buying process. It is important that you choose a good Solicitor, preferably one that has specific knowledge of Shared Ownership.
Mark Sellers, a Partner at one of our panel law firms, Penningtons Manches Cooper explains why you need to instruct a solicitor and how to choose one.
Why do I need a solicitor?
When you purchase your Shared Ownership home you will need to sign legal documents and a contract will need to be drawn up. You will need a solicitor to provide legal advice and help explain legal terms and provide information on terms such as:
The shared ownership lease
This is a document between you and the housing association that you buy your home through. This document records your purchase and sets out the ongoing terms after you buy your property. Information on the lease includes details such as: what share you have bought in your new home, how you can sell in the future and what your responsibilities are concerning your home.
When buying a home, you will pay a deposit towards your purchase, the balance will be made up of a mortgage from your chosen lender. The mortgage lender will require you to sign a mortgage offer and place a charge on your property.
Searches and enquiries
As part of the home buying process, your solicitor will raise enquiries and obtain a variety of official'searches' to find out more information about a property you plan to purchase. They will review the answers and explain them clearly to you, and will also check that the housing association has good title to sell you an interest in your home.
After you have completed your purchase and paid the purchase price, your solicitor will register your purchase at the Land Registry. Once the registration is complete, you will be able to view your details as the new home owner. The registration guarantees your title to your home.
There are several key steps to be carried out when buying a home and both you and your lender will need a solicitor to act on your behalf.
Where can I find a Solicitor?
There are many ways you can go about choosing a solicitor:
Housing Association panel
Peabody has a recommended panel of law firms which we recommend to our customers, these solicitors are reputable and experienced in acting on shared ownership purchases.
You will be able to look at possible firms of solicitors through the usual search engines. Most firms of solicitors have websites which are designed to help clients select a firm which has the necessary experience. See our comments about costs below.
If you know someone who recently bought a property, why not ask them who they used? They could recommend their solicitor to act on your behalf.
The local press
Local firms will advertise their services in the local press, either in newsprint or online.
Ask your Mortgage Lender
It might be worth asking your Mortgage lender (or mortgage broker) if they can recommend a solicitor to you.
Alternatively, there may be a firm of solicitors on your local high street. If you go into their reception, they will be able to quickly tell you whether they will be able to advise you.
How to choose a Solicitor?
After you have shortlisted possible solicitors, you'll need to contact them to discuss your legal requirements, prepare a list of questions to ask and select a solicitor that can meet your needs. If you're purchasing a Shared ownership home, make sure they have experience of advising on Shared ownership transactions.
It is important that you also reach an agreement with the solicitor about costs. Not only solicitor’s fees, but additional costs such as:
• Bank transfers
• Land Registry fees
• Stamp Duty Land Tax
• Disbursements – for example copying charges.
Also consider asking how long the transaction will take and whether the solicitor has previous experience dealing with your housing association.
What to expect at your appointment with your solicitor
Finally, once you have chosen your solicitor, you will need to make an appointment to see them. You should also tell your housing association who will be acting for you on your purchase.
At that meeting you will need to:
• Be prepared to provide the solicitor with documents confirming your identity. All solicitors must carry out identification checks for all their clients.
• Make initial payment towards solicitor’s costs, particularly the cost of searches which will be incurred.
• Tell your solicitor if there are any pressing time limits. For example, if you need to complete by a certain date and/or before your current tenancy comes to an end.
When purchasing a property, these tips will help you get prepared and equip you with the information needed to help you find a good solicitor who will be easy to communicate with to help the buying process progress as stress free as possible.