House For Sale? Choosing the right law firm will make all the difference when buying and selling your home

August 1, 2021

Benn Hagger, residential property specialist at Bates Wells & Braithwaite Ipswich, explain why.

Moving house is a life-changing event. It can be stressful, perhaps because the move corresponds with other shifts in lifestyle; needing to move following a divorce or, more positively, downsizing for retirement or upsizing to meet the needs of an expanding family. Whatever the reason, the financial commitment to owning a house and signing up to a mortgage is one of the biggest decisions we make in life, whenever that might be.

For most of us, our home will also be our most valuable financial asset and which we will want to pass on to the next generation.

Buying and selling can be quite complex, and certainly, for those chasing the advantage of the lockdown stamp duty “holiday”, it has also been especially time sensitive.  The media is full of stories of the pandemic effect, prompting the move from cities to country, from flats to houses with gardens and home offices, and reports that the demand for property is outpacing supply.  We read that gazumping is on the increase; an offer to buy is accepted only to be pipped at the post by a higher offer before exchange of contracts. There are horror stories where offers are renegotiated, applying pressure to all in the transaction chain which, at worst, can break the links and bring down the lot.

In spite of all these pressure points, the UK is still a nation of homeowners and so at Bates Wells & Braithwaite, we aim to work with you to ensure that buying and selling your home is as painless and stress free as possible and that this is the right move for you.

The conveyancing process is the process of exchanging the legal ownership of a property and, if buying with the aid of a mortgage, making sure that the loan is secured against the property you are buying.

In brief, the process is as follows:

  • Once you have an offer on your property, a conveyancer needs to be instructed.
  • The buyer will arrange a survey and their conveyancer will carry out searches, raise pre-contract enquiries and review mortgage offers.
  • The seller’s conveyancer responds to the enquiries.
  • After reviewing responses, the buyer’s conveyancer will report to the buyer.
  • All being well, both parties sign and “exchange” contracts; both parties are then legally committed to the transaction, and a date for completion is agreed where the sale monies will change hands.
  • On completion, the seller vacates the property by the agreed time.
  • The buyer’s conveyancer sends any stamp duty payable to HMRC, and registers the property in the name of the buyer at HM Land Registry.

Remember – you are buying a “home” not just a house

The role of the conveyancer is to guide you through the conveyancing process, step-by-step, and advise you as to any potential issues that may arise as well as how these can be resolved. The majority of conveyances are straight forward but not all.  Older properties in particular can be complex with issues such as rights of access or unusual covenants. It is not for the conveyancer to see these as reasons for not buying a property, but it is their responsibility to make you aware of the issues and to look for ways of ensuring that, should you decide to buy, your investment is safeguarded where and if, it can be. Your conveyancer needs to be in communication at both ends of the transaction and to look after your particular link in the longer chain.

At Bates Wells & Braithwaite we know that buying a home is not just a commercial transaction, but a personal lifestyle choice. And because we are not just property lawyers, we can advise on wider aspects such as how to minimise the risks if you are buying with a partner but are not married or how best to leave your home to loved ones in your will. It is all about being on your side as you shape your future for you and your family.

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