18 January 2021

Senior Associate Solicitor Ross Siviter explains a solicitor's role in the buying and selling process and also advises on the stamp duty holiday:

What is the process of purchasing a new home?

The process of purchasing a property is fairly complex, however Battens Solicitors are on hand to support first time buyers as well as seasoned veterans of moving home. Initially a solicitor will need to be instructed and then a draft contract is received together with the legal title and associated documentation for review from the seller’s solicitors. Various searches are carried out over the property and a survey is always recommended, but this is initiated by the person buying themselves. Solicitors will then report to the purchaser on the legal title to the property, obtain signatures to the legal documentation before proceeding to exchange contracts and set a date for completion.

How can a solicitor help me throughout the conveyancing process?

A solicitor can assist at all stages of the conveyancing process from initial instruction once a buyer has had an offer accepted on a property, right through to completion of the purchase and then registration of the transaction at HM Land Registry.

What mistakes can happen without expert advice from a specialist solicitor?

There are various forms and documents that are required to be completed throughout the transaction that must be validly signed and sometimes witnessed by an independent person. Without these, the transaction may not be able to be legally registered at HM Land Registry. There are also timescales in place for dealing with the completion of mortgages and deadlines to be met that a conveyancing lawyer would be aware of. You are well advised to appoint a solicitor as early as possible to ensure nothing is overlooked and the transaction runs smoothly.

What can I do if my house purchase or sale is delayed due to coronavirus?

A solicitor should be appointed at an early stage to deal with any issues which may arise during lockdown or as a result of coronavirus. Contracts may still be exchanged and house purchases completed during this time, but it may be that additional clauses are required to be inserted into contracts of sale to deal with the consequence that one or both parties to a transaction may be affected by the virus and therefore a house purchase may need to be delayed as a result. It is best to seek specialist advice from a conveyancing lawyer as quickly as possible if this may be the case.

What should buyers bear in mind when it comes to the stamp duty holiday?

Currently the Government have set the deadline for the stamp duty holiday as 31st March 2021. This means that the house purchase must have completed on or before this date to be eligible for the stamp duty relief. This may of course be extended at the Government’s discretion, but buyers would be advised to instruct a solicitor as quickly as possible as a typical house or flat purchase can take anywhere between 8-12 weeks or sometimes longer to complete. It is crucial that the transaction gets underway now as soon as possible because meeting the deadline becomes less likely as we move into February 2021.

For more information and advice on the conveyancing process, please contact Ross on 01935 846092 Any member of our residential property team in our offices will be able to assist you.