When in the property buying process should you instruct a solicitor or licensed conveyancer?
There is no legal requirement for a house buyer to appoint a legal representative to act for them in relation to their purchase but it makes perfect sense to do so and in most circumstances it will be essential. The legal representative, whether a property solicitor or licensed conveyancer, will have the necessary expertise to make sure the purchase goes through smoothly and guide you through that process.
A property solicitor and a licensed conveyancer are both professionals legally qualified and able to conduct the legal process of buying (and selling) a property for you. Licensed conveyancers are qualified only to practice in conveyancing and solicitors are qualified to offer all kinds of legal services but who generally practice in their area of speciality. Both are referred to in this article as 'Conveyancer'.
If you are obtaining a mortgage, then the Bank or Building Society will insist that a Conveyancer acts for you and in some cases that same Conveyancer will also act for them. Furthermore, the seller’s Conveyancer will in all probability not deal with anyone other than a Conveyancer.
If you have registered your interest in buying a property with a Housing Association it is likely that the Housing Association will have a list of preferred Conveyancers (called 'a panel') and those Conveyancers will be very experienced in dealing with Shared Ownership properties. You are not obliged to use those Conveyancers and may wish to use a Conveyancer of your own choosing who perhaps has been recommended to you. See our useful article entitled 'Selecting a Solicitor'.
It is worthwhile choosing your Conveyancer whilst you are actively looking for a property and checking that they will act for you. By doing this, the Conveyancer can let you know well in advance what identification and other personal information will be required to enable them to act on your behalf, so that when you have had your offer on a property accepted there will be no delay in presenting that information to the Conveyancer who can press on with dealing with the legal documentation.
Whether you choose your own Conveyancer or one from the Housing Association’s panel, you must ensure you have received from the Conveyancer in writing a full note of their fees and outgoings prior to finally instructing them to act.
Do not be concerned if the Conveyancers on the Association’s panel (or your chosen Conveyancer) are not located near to you or the property you are buying. This is not important as all the legal process can be carried out by your Conveyancer from the office as can all necessary identification procedure. It is more important to ensure that your Conveyancer has all the expertise and knowledge required to deal with your purchase than that Conveyancer being local to you.